California Coast Adventure: Carmel-By-The-Sea


The next leg of our California adventure began with a tea latte/blueberry scone breakfast as we packed our rental car and watched San Francisco disappear in our rearview mirror. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to be heading to Carmel (where Clint Eastwood was once Mayor) to celebrate our one-year anniversary.

Having done my research, I knew there were a few things I wanted to do en route. Heading down Hwy 1, our first stop was Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Built in 1871, this light station served to guide ships on the Pacific Coast of California and is home to one of the most beautiful coastal views. Not only is it a preserved state park and a designated California Historical Landmark, but it’s also still an active Coast Guard aid to navigation. The bathrooms left little to be desired (read: hole in the ground), but it made for a good laugh and the breathtaking views made up for it.

Next stop, Carmel! Via the scenic 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey peninsula that hugs the Pacific Coastline, a must-drive if you’re heading down the coast. We stopped along the way to take a few snapshots (like of well know 250 year old Lone Cypress) but for the most part we just appreciated the beauty and breathed in the fresh ocean air.

We arrived in Carmel just after lunch and decided to grab a bite and check out some local shopping before heading to our resort. I’d read online that a great spot for breakfast or lunch was a café by the name of Carmel Belle. Located just off Ocean Ave. (the main strip for shopping), it was incredibly quaint and had an Open-faced Roasted Mushroom Melt that didn’t disappoint. We spent the next couple hours poking in and out of local shops and Carmel Plaza—an adorable outdoor shopping experience.


The resort we chose to stay at was Carmel Valley Ranch and simply put, I never wanted to leave. We were greeted with such welcome and because it was our anniversary were upgraded to one of their most beautiful suites—just because. We were incredibly taken aback by the hospitality and it truly made our stay that much more special. To say the suite was beautiful would be an understatement. Check out the pictures in the slideshow below to see for yourself. We were able to relax and unwind before heading to the Lodge for a delicious celebratory dinner where I believe we ate most of the menu, including a tomato and burrata salad, hand-pressed ravioli with sage butter and candied walnuts, truffle fries and a dessert that didn’t last long enough for me to remember what it was. I wish I had photos of the food but it didn’t last long enough to snap a pic. Had we skipped dessert we would have been first in line for homemade complimentary s’mores by the pool.

After being lulled into a food coma, we woke up to birds chirping, turkey’s gobbling and deer running about. Carmel Valley Ranch is 100% animal friendly and these critters are just a few of the local clan that will be hanging around during your stay. Though the queen bee is most certainly Roxy, a 4-year-old English Bulldog that lounges around the lobby stealing all the attention. I fell in love with her instantly, especially because she’s smart enough to require the bribe of a treat in order for you to take her photo.

We enjoyed a breakfast of homemade granola and yogurt with freshly squeezed orange juice followed by checking out the grounds and shopping in their spa gift shop, which I highly recommend checking out. Not only is it filled with local handmade products and treats, but it also has for purchase the homemade Carmel Valley Ranch products that are supplied in your room. I’ve become obsessed with the Lavender Body Lotion made from lavender grown on the property.  Don’t even get me started on the honey made on location in their bee yard.

My only regret is only booking one night before heading further down the coast. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that we’ll be back because the alternative isn’t an option.

Where to next? The coastal drive and Big Sur!

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