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We had the best time in Carmel, California as we checked off some details on our wedding to-do list two weeks ago! It’s one of our favorite places in the world and we feel so lucky that we get to say “I DO!” there! I wanted to share what we did as a few of our readers have asked for a Carmel travel guide along with what our recommendations are. The city is absolutely beautiful and full of character, charm, and breathtaking views that will keep you coming back time and time again!
We flew into Monterey Airport around 11:30, picked up our rental car and went straight to Carmel. The airport is about 10 minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea so it’s super convenient to get up and go! The first time we went to Carmel we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco and the drive was magnificent. It’s quite a bit more to fly in to Monterey but if you’re balling on a budget – fly into San Francisco or San Jose!
After we got our rental car we drove around for a bit and hopped on the 17-Mile Drive. The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses, mansions and scenic attractions, including the Lone Cypress (behind Paul and I), Bird Rock and the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees. The first picture above is Pebble Beach Golf Links and it’s the No. 1 golf resort in America. We both wanted to do check out the shops and restaurants so it was a perfect time to stop. Paul was actually going on a golfing/bachelor trip to Scottsdale, AZ right after our trip and he forgot all of his golf attire so I took full advantage of this opportunity to find some clothes that actually fit him properly and I scored a cute white pullover with Pebble Beach embroidered on the front. They had such cute shops for the entire family. If you’re wanting to stay at the resort, The Lodge gives you that ultra luxe, oceanfront view experience with elegant dining to match. Rather pricey, but fabulous none the less.
We checked in to The Getaway which is right in the middle of Carmel-by-the-Sea. They had great room accommodations, a complimentary happy hour every day from 4-6, and complimentary breakfast each morning. What more could you ask for?! We really enjoyed our stay there (especially the happy hour) and it was priced pretty reasonably!
We had a delicious dinner at Roy’s at Spanish Bay – highly recommend! At 5:45 every night, a bagpiper walks the golf course and performs at sunset. It’s so magical and a beautiful tradition at Spanish Bay.
Second day in Carmel, we had a busy day ahead! We started it off by walking to Katy’s Place (my favorite breakfast spot) from our hotel. They have, I kid you not, 30 different variations of Eggs Benedict and the New York Steak EB is TO DIE FOR. You will not regret it! They only accept cash so make sure you stop by the ATM.
After breakfast we drove around the neighborhood and then we had a meeting at our wedding venue, Mission Ranch. It’s nestled on the most gorgeous piece of property and none other than Clint Eastwood owns it. They have a phenomenal restaurant and hotel accommodations for your stay in Carmel. We can’t wait to get married here!
After our meeting we had a little time to kill so what better way to fill up our afternoon with some shopping in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We found a designer vintage shop called Foxy Couture. Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Celine…you name it, they have it.
After shopping we had lunch at the Cypress Inn Hotel. The late Dorris Day was the owner, it’s a dog-friendly staple in Carmel. I had the chicken salad and Paul had the burger, both were pretty good! My grandparents are also staying here for our wedding, they have a little yorkie named Gigi and they can’t leave her at home because she’s too much of a diva. So Cypress Inn was there hotel of choice!
If you’re looking for an upscale resort in the valley, look no further than Bernardus Lodge & Winery. This is where we are having our rehearsal dinner and the staff is phenomenal. So phenomenal that you’re greeted with complimentary wine the moment you walk in. We spontaneously ended up going to the spa for massages that afternoon and it was everything we didn’t know we needed! The spa facility is impeccably decorated with a private pool off the lounge.
For dinner we ended up back at Mission Ranch for sunset. They don’t accept reservations, but there is always a line out the door when they open at 5:00. If you’re wanting a chance to dine there, get there as soon as possible! It’s our absolute favorite.
Something that I absolutely recommend doing is driving to Big Sur. We didn’t have time to go this trip but we went the first time we visited Carmel. It’s breathtaking views of the ocean will mesmerize you and make you feel like you’re on set of Big Little Lies. They having hiking trails, farmers markets, and great restaurants! If you have kiddos, Monterey is always a great place to explore as well as they have the world famous Monterey Aquarium and canneries.
That will be the ending of this Carmel travel guide! It’s my favorite place on earth and I hope you all have a chance to visit! If you have any questions or need more recommendations feel free to send us a message!