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!
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
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]
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.
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.]