On our last trip to San Francisco we took a detour south to charming Carmel-by-the-Sea to visit and stay with a friend. Known as a European-style village where celebrities lived and where Clint Eastwood was once the mayor, it did not disappoint as a pleasant two-day place to rest and relax.
It was a two-hour drive south of San Francisco, and as we didn’t have a car with us we were able to request an Uber lift there! Referred to often as Carmel, it is a largely residential neighborhood with two story houses nestled in wooded areas near Carmel beach. There are plenty of nearby hotels if you don’t have friends to stay with like we did. Two hotels that I found recommended were The Hideaway and Cypress Inn.
Once settled at our friend’s house, we left to get breakfast at a quaint neighborhood breakfast spot on the corner of 5th Avenue and Dolores, Friar Tucks. We got your standard breakfast fare of toast and eggs with coffee, surrounded by locals and served to you by a waitress who has worked there her whole life it seemed.
Then we headed out to an area called the “Golden Rectangle”, which is within walking distance. The main street, Ocean Avenue, is lined with shops, restaurants and art galleries. The neighborhood itself has an artsy feel to it, and is a great place to pick up a scented candle, souvenir sweatshirt, a bottle of wine at one of the wineries or maybe even a piece of art!
We visited Dawn’s Dream Winery [7th and San Carlo, (831) 659-2649]. It wasn’t at all crowded, and you could just walk into the spacious and breezy front room and take a seat for a wine tasting with knowledgeable staff. We bought a bottle of their Pinot Noir as a gift for our hostess.
There are a ton of restaurants in the area to try. Two reasonably priced places we ate at that we enjoyed were Demetra Cafe [Corner of Ocean & Lincoln, (831 622-7766], a Greek restaurant with authentic menu options (though I was satisfied with their Gyro sandwich for lunch), and Mission Bistro [Corner of Ocean and Lincoln, (831) 622-7766], American food with Californian flair, where I had the artichoke appetizer and sea bass entrée. A restaurant we walked by in the evening had such a romantic vibe to it, we swore we have to come back to try it some day, Forge in the Forest [Juniper between 5th & 6th, (831) 624-2233].
To explore all the restaurant options, go to Carmelcalifornia.com
A visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea isn’t complete without a stop at the beach, which is within walking distance of the Golden Rectangle. As our trip was in late September, and this is northern California, it was rather cloudy and chilly that day, but the beach was still scenic and serene.
If you have time there is a walk way along Scenic Road for beautiful views or to stop and watch the sunset. If you have even more time for a visit, and are the outdoorsy type, you will want to plan a walk through nearby Mission Trail Regional Park. There is certainly a lot of exploring to do there.
For us, we parted this pleasant village by the ocean, our thoughts lingering on the words from the poem “Carmel Point” by Robinson Jeffers:
Top 5 Things To Do
- “Golden Rectangle” shops and art galleries
- Restaurants and Wineries
- Carmel Beach and Scenic Road
- Carmel Point
- Mission Trail Regional Park
Date of trip: September 2018