Exiting a coffee shop in Carmel, my husband turned and said to me, “Maybe old men just know what’s up!” See, we’re in our late twenties, but everyone in line at the coffee shop was easily over sixty. Now, I know what you’re thinking, the over-sixty crowd may not sound that exciting, but even though we were younger than many of our traveling counterparts, we did not mind. Instead, we decided that older people must have a better sense of what is good in life, (and Carmel is so good that we actually would love to live there).
Here is what won us over about Carmel-by-the-Sea:
1. Carmel is a dog lover’s dream. Dogs in the hotel room, no problem. Dogs off least at the beach– great. Dogs welcomed in restaurants and stores, of course! Some restaurants even feature dog menus, not that we ordered a hot dog for our pup or anything…
2. Pristine white sand beach with turquoise water. Need I say more?
3. Everything is just so darn cute. Cute town, cute restaurants, cute houses. Cute. Think German gingerbread town and then put it on the ocean in California.
4. Delicious vegetarian options abounded everywhere we went– as an on-and-off vegetarian, this was a huge plus. I was never tempted to eat meat because the vegetarian options were thoughtfully crafted to actually taste good, with multiple restaurants serving exclusively vegetarian cuisine.
If you’re headed to Carmel anytime soon, here were the places we loved on our trip, (I’m a big fan of passing along travel ideas because, if you’re anything like me, word-of-mouth suggestions go a long way in curing indecisiveness). Likewise, if you were not planning to hit up Carmel until you added a few more years, think again. It’s the perfect romantic getaway for you, your significant other, and your dog.
Monte Verde Inn: We ended up at the Monte Verde Inn because it had solid reviews and was reasonable at just $99/night during the off-season. We visited in March but it seemed like the inn was willing to make deals on the phone, so peak summer travelers should ask about specials.
We were highly satisfied with our room at that price– shabby chic decor, private patio (unit 9), breakfast delivered in a basket daily, five blocks to the beach, great restaurants around the corner, and dog-friendly. The only downsides were the small size of the room and the comfort of the bed, but at the price the pros far outweighed the cons. All of the other inns that appealed to us started at $200 or more per night. We’d happily return.
Casanova: Walking distance from our hotel, delicious Italian fare with beautiful patio. The atmosphere and food live up to the price, providing the perfect romantic dinner. I highly recommend the house wine and the vegetarian ravioli.
Parker Lusseau Pastries & Cafe: Located only ten minutes from the Monterey Aquarium, this bakery was a real find. Delicious, healthy sandwiches and incredible desserts! Friendly owner and staff to boot. If I were getting married in the Monterrey area, I’d want my cake from here, but since I’m already married, I’ll settle for returning again for lunch (and dessert) sometime.
Mon Chay: I was skeptical about vegetarian Vietnamese food in Carmel, but this was amazing. Possibly my favorite Vietnamese restaurant of all time! Located directly off of Highway 1, it is a five minute drive from the village in a cute shopping center full of twinkly lights, (did I mention that I like twinkly lights?!). The food was fresh, healthy, affordable, and delicious!
Carmel Beach: No leashes required, friendly dogs, friendly people, gorgeous water, white sand… Alex and I ran with the dog each morning on the beach, definitely the highlight of our trip.
Monterey Bay Aquarium: Last, but not least, Alex and I hit up the aquarium in Monterrey. So cool. My favorite was the gigantic octopus, (I never knew that octopus were so intelligent or affectionate!). Absolutely worth a visit.
Aspirational House Hunting: We also spent a couple of hours wandering around the village, looking at the houses for sale. When an older couple asked if we were house-hunting, we happily replied that we were aspirational house hunting. So many cool places to daydream about… Now we just need five to ten million dollars to spend…
Next time you visit the area, send your tips my way. We plan to be back, many, many times. In fact, you might just have to visit us when we live here someday… Hopefully it will happen before we get old, but even if we have to wait, we’ll be visiting regularly until then. Carmel-by-the-Sea is the perfect weekend getaway, regardless of your age. Your dog, and hopefully your significant other, will agree.
Featured writer: Olivia O’Bryon