Known as: "A village in a forest overlooking a white sand beach," Carmel-by-the-Sea is located on the Pacific Coast just a short 90 minute drive south of San Jose.
This quaint village is only 1 square mile, most of which is residential tree-lined streets. Adding to its charm is the lack of street lights, parking meters and house numbers.
Shops, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, gourmet food shops and art galleries line the main thoroughfare of Ocean Ave. where locals and tourist can find just about anything they need.
Keeping with the village feel hotels are boutique style and small. On a recent visit to this sea-side town I stayed at the Bavarian inspired Hofsas House Hotel. Built in 1957 Hofsas House is a family owned and operated property that strives to provide guests with exceptional hospitality and service. Personal touches like free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, in room fireplaces and lovely views add to the charm of this establishment.
I was greeted upon arrival by owner Carrie Theis and treated to a delicious wine and cheese selection picked specially for me from the local Cheese Shop. Carrie's love for the area was evident in our conversations with her as she helped us plan our stay.
Though everyone thinks of Napa or Sonoma when they think of California wine, there are a lot of vineyards scattered throughout the valleys of Monterey County. Unlike Napa & Sonoma Carmel makes wine tasting more accessible by offering people an opportunity to savor without ever having to think about transportation. As part of the "Wine Walk by-the-Sea" program you can purchase a Wine Tasting Passport ($65) that allows you to walk to 9 of the 14 tasting rooms all located within blocks of each other. You could easily spend an entire afternoon sipping wines on this self-paced, self-guided stroll around town.
If wine isn't your thing I suggest heading to Point Lobos State Reserve for some hiking and possible wildlife sightings. Grab a picnic lunch from 5th Ave. deli, located a few blocks from Hofsas House, to enjoy at this picturesque state park.
Save time for a quick visit to the Carmel Mission either before or after Point Lobos. The historic mission is still a working parish and the only California Mission to still have its bell tower dome.
Known as a food destination Carmel has a number of dining options at every price level. From casual coffee shops and gourmet markets to charming bistros and fine dining establishments, everything you'd want to eat is within walking distance. (Look for full dining report coming soon)
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a fun filled girls wine weekend or a family vacation Carmel-by-the-sea has something for everyone.
This experience was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.