Coronavirus fears continue to keep American travelers stateside this summer rather than traveling abroad. Luckily, within the United States there are plenty of destinations that will make you think you’re in another country and you don’t have to use a passport to get there. One of my personal favorites is Carmel, California.
Known for its dramatic rocky coastline and world-class golf, vacationing in Carmel can make you feel like you have been transported to a village in the Irish or English countryside rather than the central California coast. From fairytale cottages to French bakeries, this town oozes charm and offers the perfect vacation for people of all ages and interests.
My dad and husband are big golfers so anytime I am in Carmel, I’m usually tagging along on one of their golf trips. I love tagging along because on the days I do choose to golf, I get to take in some of the most amazing views in the entire world and many of the courses in the area are walking only, so I get a great workout in as well.
My husband’s favorite golf course in the area and the one that he dreams about on a regular basis is the Cypress Point Club. This golf course is private and very old school which is really cool to see. Carts are not allowed and you are accompanied by a caddy when you play. Most of the caddies at the club have been there for more than 30 years and they know every turn of the course like the back of their hands so it is really fun to play with them. Aside from the outstanding golf, the views on this course are INSANE. The iconic cypress trees that the course is known for line the greens and you can hear the Pacific Ocean breaking on the rocks just feet from you. You might even meet a seal or two when you play.
Other outstanding golf courses in the area are of course, Pebble Beach, Pasatiempo, Spanish Bay and Spyglass. My husband is an engineer so he is really drawn to the design of these courses and has told me so much about them. One of his icons, Alister Mackenzie, designed Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. These courses are as beautiful as they are challenging, but they make for a wonderful experience. One of my favorite things to do is meet my husband at the Tap Room at Pebble Beach for lunch after he’s done playing golf for the day. There’s something just so fabulous about having a glass of wine and a juicy cheeseburger in the classic mahogany bar.
If you’re planning to stay in Carmel, I like to start my days walking along the beach and then popping up to Ocean Avenue for a bite to eat and some shopping. Keep in mind that it is never really warm in this part of California so even though it is a beautiful, sandy beach, you likely won’t be swimming. I usually bring lots of layers when I’m in Carmel because the mornings and evenings are cool and the afternoons are warm. I also love seeing the “Fairy Tale Cottages.” Hugh Comstock designed a series of Fairy Tale cottages in town that are so idealic, they make you think you are at Disneyland. They have walking tours available and this is something you don’t want to miss!
If you’re interested in getting out of Carmel for the day, taking the stunning 17-mile drive to Monterey, should be a top priority. This windy road will take you to one of the world’s most fabulous aquariums. The aquarium is located on Cannery Row…I don’t know about you, but I had to read the book Cannery Row in middle school and all I can say is that A LOT has changed on Cannery Row since that book was written, but it is really fun to explore and great for kids.
The dining options in Carmel are fabulous and will make you feel like you are definitely not in the U.S. My family and I love La Bicyclette and no trip to Carmel is complete without stopping there. This French bistro has wonderful food, service and a wine selection in an incredible environment. Lafayette Bakery is also a must stop for my francophiles out there.
For an elevated dining experience, you can’t go wrong with a chef’s tasting and wine pairing at Aubergine. Roux, L’Escargot and Il Tegamino are also incredible.
If you’re looking for more classic food, the Tap Room at Pebble Beach and Brophy’s Tavern are my go-to’s.
Carmel is not a big town so there are not a ton of places to stay. I highly recommend booking a house to stay in if you are in a group, but if you prefer hotels there are some wonderful little gems in the area. I did include the Post Ranch Inn on my list because it is so amazing. It is about an hour away, but it is one of the best hotels in the world and I dream of staying there one day.
For my hotel selections IN the area, I love L’Auberge Carmel. You can’t beat the location and it is a romantic, charming and luxurious spot. The Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay are obvious choices for the golfers out there. Bernardus Lodge and the Hyatt Carmel Highlands are luxurious and modern, but not in town. The Mission Ranch in is a great option for those not trying to break the bank on a hotel.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Carmel-by-the-sea with me! Leave me a comment and let me know where you’re traveling or dreaming of traveling to this summer!