Travel Guide: Weekend in Carmel, California

January 25, 2017

If you’re a looking for a quick and romantic getaway from SF, Carmel needs to be at the top of your list. Here’s a recap of my weekend, plus all the places you can’t miss.


I’ve said it once and I’ll probably say it a million more times: one of the best things about living in San Francisco is the quick access to some incredibly gorgeous places. One of the places that people kept recommending as a top spot nearby was Carmel-by-the-Sea, just about two hours south from SF.

MM and I recently spent the weekend in Carmel and it was magical. Like actually magical and like you’re living in a fairytale land. Carmel-by-the-Sea was formerly an artists colony and is still an artistically-rich town. The houses don’t even have addresses because back in the day they felt that it allowed for more creativity and brought neighbors together as everyone had to get their mail from the center of town. While the town has certainly modernized since those days, I love that you can still find the quirky details throughout the hidden pathways and cottages. Sticking with its unique history, Carmel has held onto some silly laws, like you need a permit to wear high heels (but we met the mayor and he said you probably won’t get in trouble for breaking this one).

Carmel is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway where you can escape city life, enjoy ocean views and eat at top notch restaurants. If you want to get away with your dog, I cannot recommend Carmel enough. It is literally the most dog friendly place I’ve ever visited. There’s a fun dog-friendly beach filled with playing pups and dogs are allowed in many restaurants and cafes and can even join you in wine shops for tastings.

Carmel Beach

After eating our way through Carmel and checking out the local culture, here’s my must list for when you make your way to this sweet city.

Where To Stay in Carmel

Carmel Country Inn: This is where we stayed and it was perfect. Like many inns, it’s very dog friendly–they even have a welcome sign in the lobby welcoming your pup and they have an array of tasty dog treats. In addition, they also have a delish array of people treats too. I’m a snack addict so I loved how the lobby had tons of snacks for us to grab throughout the day. The staff was extremely friendly and our room was complete with a cozy fireplace. The hotel is located just a short walk from town.

Carmel Country Inn

Enjoying coffee and breakfast on the porch of Carmel Country Inn before heading out for the day.

Happy Landing Inn: We walked through this bed & breakfast and it was just the cutest place I’ve ever seen. There are only seven rooms and each one is unique and of course, dog friendly. The inn features beautiful gardens and an outdoor fireplace. The rooms are very reasonably priced, starting at $195 and includes breakfast delivered to your door each morning–sign me up!

Carmel Inns

Touring Happy Landing Inn, I want to stay here next time we visit!

The Hideaway Inn: This place recently went through a remodel and the updated rooms and lounge feature a modern, welcoming and homey style. Guests are invited to a daily breakfast and an evening wine and cheese reception.

Cypress Inn: If you and your pup are looking for old world charm with a modern touch, stay at Cypress Inn, which opened in 1929 and is noted as “probably the most famous dog-friendly hotel in the country.”

Where To Eat in Carmel

La Bicyclette: European Country Cuisine and perfect for a cozy dinner for two.

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Butternut squash prosciutto pizza from La Bicyclette

Dematra Cafe: Delicious Mediterrean food. We went for lunch and I highly recommend The Great Greek salad. At random times there is singing from the staff which is a special treat.

Casanova: We sadly didn’t make it here but people were raving about this famous spot. Next time for sure!

Carmel Belle: A dog friendly restaurant–as in you can bring your dog inside! This is pretty rare, even in the most dog friendly areas. A nice casual spot to stop by for a quick bite or a cup of coffee.

Carmel Coffee House and Roasting Co.: I loved this spot for a cup of coffee and a pastry.


What To Do In Carmel

For such a small town, this place has a lot going on! We were only there for a weekend but we were able to see and do a lot.

Carmel Food Tour: Those restaurants I mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the culinary adventures you can have in Carmel. Fortunately, the Carmel Food Tour was born! You can choose from a brunch or lunch tour and you’ll get to experience Carmel in a uniquely foodie way. The tour takes you on a leisurely stroll through the center of Carmel, stopping at specially selected restaurants. The guided tour is an amazing way to experience a lot of Carmel in just three hours. You’ll get an inside look at the town that goes beyond the delicious food.



Our brunch food tour ended at La Playa Inn with the most incredible Bloody Mary’s EVER. They’ll custom make each one based on your tastes. If you don’t do the food tour, make a special stop at some point at La Playa for the Bloody Mary’s and fresh juice mimosas.

The Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea: Purchase a Wine Tasting Passport for $65 and you’ll get access to one $10 tasting flight at each of the nine tasting rooms located throughout Carmel. You can use it in a day, across the weekend, or even throughout multiple visits back to Carmel. I recommend buying the passport when you first arrive in Carmel and then as you’re exploring, when you spot a cute tasting room you can easily pop in for a few sips. I loved how you had the freedom to wander around and taste a wide variety of wines throughout town. Also, many of the tasting rooms allow dogs inside.

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Wine tasting with your dog? Seriously what is better. This one is from Carmel Road which features wines that Drew Barrymore helped create!

10 Cent Drinks at La Playa Carmel: This is one of the quirkiest things we encountered in Carmel and we loved it. Every Sunday night from 5-5:10pm, the bar at La Playa (a gorgeous hotel with ocean views), welcomes guests to enjoy a ten cent drink. You have to pay with a dime and it only lasts ten minutes (but don’t worry, they seem to let it go longer as they offered ten cent drinks for at least 30 minutes when we went). La Playa hosts this event each Sunday in honor of former hotel owner Bud Allen and to encourage people to meet and chat with new people. The night we went it was a packed house full of warm and friendly energy.

Don’t forget to check out the sunset while enjoying your ten cent drinks, I mean look at these colors!

Walk Along the Dog Friendly Beach: Whether or not you have your pup in tow, head to Carmel Beach for a leisurely afternoon stroll.

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Dog Friendly beach

17 Mile Drive: I’m bummed we ran out of time before embarking on this drive, but if you have time after exploring Carmel, take the scenic 17 mile drive and check out The Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay and the fairways of Pebble Beach Golf Links. This is at the top of my list next time we head back to Carmel.

Wander Around: Honestly, just aimlessly walk through town! Go off the main road, find hidden pathways and journey with no agenda. The town is full of beautiful gardens and there are succulents everywhere you turn (my fave).

Carmel California

I think this list should keep you pretty busy for the weekend.

Until next time Carmel, which I hope is very soon!

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Leave a Comment


  • I stumbled on your site as I was searching info. on La Playa’s Sunday “Bud Allen Hour.” Lots of good recommendations in this post! I recently started working in Carmel and love seeing the nice plugs! I also must comment on your doggie – SO cute! Looks like it may be a Westie or have a lot of Westie in him/her. We had a Westie for 7 years and love that breed so much!

    • Thanks so much for reading! Carmel is such a gorgeous spot, so much to do and see. And yes–I think my pup is a westie schnauzer! who really knows, but he seems to have the head of a westie and the body of a schnauzer 🙂

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