Considered one of the most romantic places in the world, (Travel + Leisure readers voted it No. 3 after Paris and Venice) Carmel is nestled on the Monterey Peninsula, southeast of golf mecca Pebble Beach and north of dramatic Big Sur.
A bit out of the way, though only 15 minutes from the Monterey Regional Airport, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a good mix of a destination — it’s an easy-going California resort town and not overrun by tourists. Carmel is well-known as a sublime spot to relax and be pampered. The nearby “destination” courses such as Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach are truly epic golfing “bucket list” holes for golfers. And the area’s luxurious inns and spas, gorgeous beaches, cute downtown, and smart watering holes are top notch. Plus, the weather is beautiful.
Carmel’s dining scene is to die for. Try Aubergine restaurant within the exquisite Relais & Châteaux L’Auberge Carmel or Andre’s Bouchee, a fine, French inspired yet casual local hotspot. It’s a wine shop too. La Bicyclette is another delicious dining choice to consider.
You can also experience the area’s fine wineries without traveling too far. Carmel boasts several wineries’ tasting rooms accessible on foot or via a short drive. Hahn’s offers reasonably priced wines, and Wrath’s KW Ranch Pinot Noir is a delight. Pessagno Winery has great chardonnays and pinot noirs, and Galante Vineyards is lots of fun. Bernardus is a must visit winery just a bit east.
Pebble Beach’s famous “17-Mile Drive” is absolutely worth the jaunt; you’ll see magnificent homes perched on bluffs next to manicured golf courses and a timeless ocean view. Don’t miss the Carmel Mission museum. This venerable 1770’s era California mission is still an intriguing place to visit and learn about early California history. Make time for a visit to the Tor House, former home of poet Robinson Jeffers.Even Carmel’s surfing scene is a hit. Surprisingly more surfers come to Carmel-by-the-Sea than nearby Santa Cruz. “We’ve got bigger waves and better sand,” according to “Mike,” one of the local dudes.
(AAA Traveler Spring 2018)