Updated: Aug 4, 2021
For years, I have wanted to visit the beautiful beach town of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. Quaint, charming, and historical, it is such a unique spot that many rave about!
We decided to plan a getaway to Carmel this summer and stayed at local boutique inns in the area (something we do every time we travel! We love visiting and supporting other boutique properties and learning from our experiences in the process!) Stick around the end of the post for a link for a discounted rate so you can plan a trip too! La Playa Carmel was our first stop.
La Playa Carmel is a historic mansion with lush European gardens and incredible ocean views. Our first night in town, we enjoyed a short walk down to the beach and caught sand crabs while the sun went down. Back at the property, they offer sangria in the afternoons and warm chocolate chip cookies in the evenings- such hospitality! Everyone took an evening dip in the heated pool, too! We enjoyed their massive breakfast spread the next morning and sat out in the garden while the girls spent an hour playing the large chess set, then we walked to downtown and browsed shops and had morning coffee- it was perfect!
In the last stretch of our stay, we hopped over to Hotel Carmel. Hotel Carmel is located right in the heart of the charming Carmel village, so it was also the perfect home base to walk to shops and dining. Their front desk is built out like a family room, complete with tape deck library and tape player! I found an old favorite of mine, any other Rod Stewart fans out there-? Our favorite dinner was at Brophy's Tavern in Downtown Carmel. Located in a charming dutch-looking building which it shares with the hotel front desk area, the food was wonderful and the ambience was fun and unique too! The girls enjoyed playing with the real vintage jukebox, while we had the most amazing Cobb salad and the big pretzel was a favorite for our girls.
While we were in town, we ventured out to both Carmel and Monterrey and loved all the activities along the beautiful coastline. On our first day, we splurged for a luxury rental from Turo as we cruised through the scenic 17-mile drive along the rocky coast. Our girls loved watching out the window at the beautiful water and we made lots of pitstops for photos and seashell collection.
We then stopped off at Pebble Beach, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world! We walked around and took in the sights and learned about the PGA Tour events that take place their annually. It was so gorgeous and both girls bought stuffed animal souvenirs from the pro shop.
While planning our trip, someone recommended we look up Mission Ranch, owned by local celebrity Clint Eastwood. We lucked out by popping in without a reservation and were seated right away. The view from their restaurant is like something out of a movie, and we got to watch as they brought in the sheep grazing in the fields. Inside, there was a piano player and singer, and quite a lively crowd of locals, but it wasn't long before we were all singing along and dancing in the bar. When in Rome, right??
On a whim we took the girls to Dennis the Menace Playground, a huge park that has massive slides, bridges, mazes, a rock climbing wall, and more! The girls had so much fun, we would highly recommend this spot if you are traveling with young ones.
While in the area, you guessed it, we had to make a stop at the iconic Monterrey Bay Aquarium! Did you know that the creators of "Finding Dory" drew inspiration for the movie from this very aquarium? We see why they did... we were able to wander through for hours admiring the adorable otters, penguins, octopi, and more. We even spotted tiny Strawberry anemones, who knew?? Afterwards we shopped on cannery row, got coffee from a new cult-favorite Captain + Stoker, and bought goodies from the downtown farmer's market. What a day!
All-in-all, we had a wonderful time and would love to visit again! Our friends at Classic Hotels & Resorts (who own both properties) have offered us a discount code for our followers to use on their own beach vacation. Use the code "STRAWBERRY" for 10% off of their best available rate* at either property - or click the direct links below to have the promotion applied automatically:
Book Now - La Playa Carmel
Book Now - Hotel Carmel
*blackout dates apply
I hope this can inspire you to plan a getaway to the California coast for you and your family, too.
-Amber & Carson