Things to Do in Carmel on a Couple’s Weekend

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My husband and I recently snuck away for THREE nights alone, kid-free, to the incredibly romantic Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Our long weekend was pretty much perfect, thanks to our hosts at the Hofsas House boutique hotel, who arranged the most beautiful itinerary of things to do in Carmel.

I am going to share our exact itinerary of things to do in Carmel on a couple’s weekend, because if you follow it, or close to it, it quite simply doesn’t get much better!

Carmel is an ideal getaway for a romantic anniversary or special birthday. You will fall in love with the area (and each other) all over again!

Day One:

We wanted to drive up the coast and took the 101 North to the Scenic Highway One through Big Sur. We made several stops, each of them worth it.  We left Orange County at 6am and drove into Carmel-by-the-Sea right at 3pm.

Places to see on a drive up the California coast:

Montecito – After we got through LA traffic we grabbed a coffee at Starbucks in Montecito. You could also stop in Santa Barbara for breakfast. When you hit San Luis Obispo, you will make the transition to Hwy 1, after which we turned off the highway and checked out the Morro Bay Rock.  If you leave early, the seaside town of Cambria is a good stop for lunch. Just South of Big Sur in San Simeon by Hearst Castle is this amazing turnoff to check out Elephant Seal Beach. It’s wild. After San Simeon you will hit the stretch of Big Sur. Breathtaking.

Stay at the Hofsas House Hotel 

We loved the Hofsas House hotel in Carmel. See my previous post here on a review of the property.

Dinner at Mundaka

First night, walk out a few blocks to Mundaka for dinner.

Note: High heels are not permitted without a permit in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For real. Uneven pavers are not heel friendly! Bring your comfy flats; everywhere in Carmel-by-the-Sea is casual.

The restaurant had a super cool vibe and was very romantic. Their Spanish style tapas menu allows you to enjoy a variety of unique dishes. All organic, local, homemade from scratch, amazing.

[Photo credit: Mundaka]

Day Two:

Take the Carmel Food Tour

I recommend doing the Carmel Food Tour at the beginning of your visit ~ this was hands down the BEST way to get an introduction to all the culinary delights the town has to offer.

The leisurely three-hour, guided tour includes stops at Carmel’s most interesting attractions (history, architecture & culture) with stops to sample tastings at seven unique eateries.  

Tours run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am – 2pm and cost is $69pp. You can buy tickets online and use promo code SPRING2013 to save $10 on any tour.

We LOVED the tour. It was the perfect mix of food and wine pairings, and enough to make you feel like you had a satisfying lunch, but not like you overdid it. The owner and tour guide Staci, was a doll and made the tour not only interesting, but also very fun.

 [Group photo credit: Carmel Food Tour]

Take the 17-mile drive

About one hour before sunset, take the gorgeous 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach to The Inn at Spanish Bay to enjoy a cocktail from The Lobby Lounge on the outside patio overlooking the golf course and ocean. Spectacular.

At the end of the golf day, a bagpiper makes his away across the greens. It was surreal. Call ahead to see what time the bagpiper plays.

Note: You have to pay an entrance fee to take the 17-mile drive, around $9.75, but take that to the restaurant and they will back the amount out of your bill.

Dinner at Fandango Restaurant – Pacific Grove

After your time at Inn at Spanish Bay, head into the adjacent town of Pacific Grove for dinner reservations at Fandango Restaurant, a 30 year tradition in the area.

From fresh seafood to its famous rack of lamb or prime beef, every speciality is full of flavor and reminiscent of the culture and flavors of European kitchens.

My hubby and I had a cozy table right in front of the fireplace, if you make a reservation, ask for this table if available. I enjoyed the filet and lobster tail ~ my husband opted for the short ribs. Delicious. 

Day Three 

Visit Point Lobos State Park

After all the wining and dining, we were ready for a little exercise, so we headed down to take a walk at Point Lobos State Park, which is only a few miles away from Carmel.

It was a breathtaking hike along miles of majestic coastline. Definitely worth a visit.

Go Wine Tasting

Did you know that Monterey was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2013?

To get a taste of the region’s best wines, pick up The Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea Wine Tasting Passport.

For $50pp, the taster is entitled to one $10 flight at each of seven different tasting rooms (a $70 value). It can be used on one day or spread out over the weekend. I would recommend getting the passport when you arrive so you can spread out your tastings.

Wine tasting was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The tasting rooms were all so charming, like this Galante Tasting room, tucked in the back of a courtyard.

Departure Day (sniff sniff) 

In the morning, get a coffee and take the 8 block walk down to the beach from Hofsas House. It is a stunning stretch of white sand, anchored by the greens of Pebble Beach golf course.

We hit the road around lunchtime on a Sunday, took the 5 instead of the coast, and were home in exactly 6 hours. Not too bad.

Once you visit Carmel, you want to go back again and again.

A very special thanks to the Hofsas House hotel for hosting my husband and I and for arranging such a spectacular weekend.  Their European-style hospitality and concierge service can help you plan the perfect weekend based on what you are looking for in your stay.

[Disclosure: I was invited to the Hofsas House as a part of a media stay to facilitate a review and was given tickets to the Carmel Food Tour, Wine Tasting, along with dinner credits at Mundaka and Fandango to help enhance our stay. All opinions are 100% my own and this is not a compensated post.]

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Hofsas House Hotel Carmel Review ~ An Enchanting Getaway!

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My husband and I were recently invited to stay at the Hofsas House hotel in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea for an enchanting getaway. It was my first time visiting Carmel ~ it won’t be my last. This review is about our lovely accommodations, stay tuned for a post on all the things we did in this charming seaside town.

A family-run boutique hotel for over 65 years, Hofsas House offers warm European style hospitality with a goal to make you fall in love so you will want to return again and again.

Whether a romantic weekend celebrating a special anniversary, a girls’ weekend shopping and dining, or a family road trip (even the dog is welcome!) this is an area of California everyone should explore at least once in your lifetime.

I not only fell in love, I fell madly in love with Carmel-by-the-Sea; one of the best getaways my husband and I have ever experienced.

Our adventure started bright and early on a Thursday morning. Wanting to take the Scenic Highway One through Big Sur and drive up the coast, we hit the road at 6am. Getting through LA was the toughest part of the trip, but once we hit the 101 we were smooth sailing.

We made about six stops along the way ~ this state is so amazing. The word MAJESTIC kept coming to mind…

If time permits, I can’t more highly suggest taking the drive up the California coast. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

We arrived  in Carmel around 3pm just in time for check in. When we drove into town we were immediately captivated by its beauty, reminiscent of a quaint European village.

One of the largest inns in the one square mile town known as Carmel-by-the-Sea, each of the 38 rooms is different and uniquely decorated in Old World Bavarian-style.

The property felt like visiting your Great Aunt Helga in Germany and staying in her cozy haus in the countryside. Since my husband’s family is from Germany, we felt right at home.

Forget the big screen TV’s, you don’t need them. The property and entire town felt like stepping back in time. A time when people strolled instead of power walking while looking down at a phone. Sigh.

Here is our spacious ocean view king suite…

Upon arrival to the room, we were greeted by one of their speciality amenities, the Monterey Wine & Cheese Pairing, which you can opt to add on to your stay for only $30.

Once we were settled, we opened up the crisp Ventana chardonnay and delectable cheese and crackers for a lovely appetizer before walking out to dinner.  This was an amazing way to start our Carmel experience, especially since we were hungry from the long drive! YUM…

Our ocean view room was impeccably clean (big for me) and featured a king sized bed with lovely linens, wood-burning fireplace, small kitchenette with microwave and mini-fridge, and the cutest pink Dutch door (which every room in the inn has) allowing us to open the top to let the ocean breeze in.

Hofsas House Offerings 

Here are a few of the features you can find at the hotel:

~ Heated swimming pool (it was 80 degrees when we were there!)

~ Pet friendly rooms and pet concierge service

~ European style dry saunas

~ Off-street FREE parking (thank you very much)

~ Free continental breakfast (pastries, yogurts and great coffee)

~ Free WIFI (thank you very much)

Each morning we would go to the lobby where an employee would ask if they could make us a carafe of coffee to take to our room, which we did.

I love a hotel that offers a few free nibbles in the AM to tide you over until you get out and about…

 Your Personal Carmel Concierge

One of the best parts about staying at the Hofsas House, was Carrie the owner, and her staff.

Her grandmother Donna Hofsas (photo left on wall) founded the hotel six decades ago, and Carrie spent summers as a child helping her grandmother at the Hofsas House. You can definitely say hospitality is in her blood!

The passion for her boutique hotel and the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea was evident in the sparkle in her eyes.

Knowing we were going on a romantic weekend away, she helped create the perfect weekend itinerary to help us explore and enjoy all the different things the area has to offer.

If you stay at Hofsas House, PLEASE take advantage of their knowledge of the area and chat with them on things to do and allow them to arrange activities for you.

To me, this is what made this hotel so special.

Location, Location, Location 

Overlooking the quaint seaside village, the Hofsas House is walking distance to central Carmel, the beach, shops and dining.

You could easily pull up, park, and not get in your car again the rest of the trip if you didn’t chose to.

However, if you want to venture out, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove are only a short drive away.

Scenery like this is walking distance from the hotel. Magical, and impossible not to fall in love…

Ways to Enhance Your Stay

The Hofsas House prides themselves on giving guests options to enhance their stay with packages and add on’s such as:

~ Beach fire kit and s’mores bundle with blanket and flashlight to take down to the beach ($60)

~ In room his and her couples massage starting at 45 minutes ($160)

~ Romantic room decor for special occasions ($75)

~ Beach fire set up for you including flowers, s’mores, blanket, flashlight and message in the sand ($139)

~ Partnerships with 6 golf courses with golf fees starting at $65pp including cart.

~ Hospitality partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, if tickets purchased through Hofsas House, you can receive a two-consecutive-day pass for the price of one.

~ Tail wagging package including dog frisbee, dog bed, tips and recommendations for your stay and pet-friendly businesses.  There is a $25/night fee for one dog and $40/night additional fee for two dogs.

 Pricing & Tips on Staying at the Hofsas House

The Hofsas House room rates are refreshingly reasonable, and they offer many different types of rooms depending on what you are looking for.

Many have fireplaces, kitchenettes, private balconies, and they also offer three family suites and two deluxe suites.  If traveling with children, their family suites were AWESOME!  Some have two separate sleeping rooms and two separate bathrooms. The perfect set-up.


I would recommend not booking online, but calling the hotel to make your reservation, so they can help find out more what you are looking for and place you in the room that will be most comfortable for you.

This way you can let them know if you want a fireplace, private balcony, two separate sleeping rooms if traveling with kids, or the most economical choice, etc.

Use their concierge services!

Like I mentioned before, Carrie was incredibly helpful in suggesting the most amazing things to do and experience on our stay.

They can help you plan an itinerary, make reservations, purchase tickets, etc. so I highly suggest calling and chatting with her so you can utilize this amazing resource.

We had the time of our lives. Thank you so much to Carrie and the Hofsas House for giving us a getaway we will never forget! And you better believe we WILL be back!

Follow Hofsas House on Facebook

Disclosure: I was invited to stay at the Hofsas House complimentary as a part of a media stay to facilitate a review. All opinions are 100% my own. LOVED IT!

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