Oh Carmel by the Sea you are definitely my favorite short trip destination. California wouldn't be the same without you. Your white sand beach is... Ok, ok, I will stop serenading about Carmel by the Sea, but it is really my favorite place away from home to spend some time relaxing and to unwind. It was back in 2011 that we visited Carmel for the first time and we felt so good there. I love it so much, that I researched to buy a cabin there. Yeah, no chance. But hey, it's only about 2h south from San Francisco, so you can whether do a day trip or stay for a weekend. Last time we stayed over night in a cozy cottage boutique inn Vagabond's House Inn. Can only recommend, even if it's not on a budget. It's worth. So if you are looking to escape from the San Francisco summer, here comes my 48 hours Carmel by the Sea guide.
Your weekender is packed and you are ready to hit the road. Ideally you have prepared a small provisions bag, so you don't loose time on breakfast. If not, make a pit stop in Davenport at Whale City Bakery for a hot coffee and freshly baked pastries. Tip: Don't forget to smell the eucalyptus trees.
Continue on Highway1 for next 53.5 miles to Monterey...Enjoy the view!
Monterey is more touristy then Carmel but definitively worth visiting. Tip: Park your car in the side streets, like in this area, so you don't have to care about being town away or paying $15/h for parking space. Go with the crowds. Stroll the trails of John Steinbecks, legendary Cannery Row, to the Bay Bike bike rentals. Splurge the money (about $25/day) to rent a bike and go on a memorable 17 mile drive bike ride. The 17 mile drive is one of most beautiful and unique landscapes on earth. It will take your breath away one way or another, but it's worth. Don't forget #1: tons of sunscreen on your face and water in your backpack. Don't forget #2: You are not on Tour de France; enjoy, make stops, take pictures, watch the sea lions, watch the birds, smell the cypress trees, feel the salt air, relax.
The ride should take about 3-5h(map), out and back. Don't try to make a whole loop back to Monterey. We made this mistake once. It's too long and it gets pretty hilly. Finish at Pebble Beach. There is a grocery store, Pebble Beach Market, with outside tables. Treat yourself with some bites, lay down on the lush grass and be proud that you made the first half. Just joking, it's not bad, believe me. Head back to Monterey, if you need a small shopping recreation, I suggest the Antique Mall, the largest antique store I have ever been too. But do not overwork your trip companion's patience if he/she is not so into vintage as you are. You can get lost in this store. Time to leave for Carmel...
Try to get to Carmel between 6-8pm. Grab a sandwich or salad from Bruno's Market & Deli; and walk the Ocean Ave down to the beach. This beach is amazing. White sand, open horizon, green trees, pure magic. Stretch your blanket, make yourself comfortable. I have eaten my way through many cool and delicious restaurants, but nothing can beat a good sandwich on a blanket with blob of sunset.
As the sun goes down, make an evening walk through Carmel. Did you know? They don't have street lights, so all the light comes from the homes, stores, restaurants or string lights on the trees. It's ferry-tale like.
Carmel River Inn , Normandy Inn , Svendsgaard's Inn ,
There should not be watches on Sunday. But as you have to check out around 12pm and breakfast is served until 10am, you will probably get up at 9am. Most hotels in Carmel deliver small breakfast to your room. Yoghurt, egg, muffin, toast with jam, some fruits and coffee is not your usual brunch but totally enough to start the day. If it's not enough for you, you can grab some delicious pastries from Carmel bakery, on your way to the beach. Now it's time for relaxing. And you can do it, all day long. In between we played volleyball, listened to the local guys playing guitar on the beach, walked the coast and strolled the downtown. There is a mid size mall with mostly hi-end fashion boutiques you can find in any other downtown. Even if not on a budget, Carmel's small business and art galleries are so charming. So make sure to stop by. But actually you are not here to shop, right? Although, I bought a skirt at Anthropologie. Shame.
My favorite store in Carmel is Cottage of Sweets on Ocean Ave.Here you will find everything sweet tooth heart is craving for. If you are looking for some lunch or dinner, there are tons of options. We had last time some sea food at Flaherty's; Clam Chowder at it's best. The times before we got some really good food at: Little Swiss Café(cash only) & Katie's Place
Round 7pm-8pm you should hit the road back home. This way you will have enough time to prepare yourself for Monday, have a shower and fell a sleep probably in 5 sec after you hit the pillow.
Hope you guys found some inspiration to make you weekend feel longer and if you have any questions, let me know! As always, would love to hear your day trip tips!