Unique Experiences with Each Visit
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA- Sure, there’s the splendor of the unparalleled California coastline dotted with Cypress trees, lush forests, hidden beaches, soft sand and rocky shores. Certainly there are fairy tale inspired homes, magnificent castle estates of the rich and famous perched along rocky cliffs and hidden among the wind swept forest. Yes, world class dining, shopping with easy access to recreation with some of the finest scenery in the world are all packed into a relatively small geographic area.
Yet, no matter how frequently one visits Carmel-by-the-Sea, there’s always an excitement that you’ve barely scratched the surface. Perhaps, that’s one of its most inviting draws. There’s always much to learn and experience here.
As regular visitors to Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula, we bring you new travel ideas and old favorites. Along the way, we gained an appreciation for new experiences that have previously eluded our purview.
First Stop: Entertaining & Educational
Gael Gallagher’s zest for Carmel and California’s Central Coast is infectious. Like so many of us, this affable, well-spoken former Bostonian fell in love with California immediately upon arrival. Settling here decades ago, Gael is a fount of knowledge and local insight. She has been sharing her love of the region with visitors and locals for well over 30 years. A seasoned tour guide by any measure, Gael imparts an kaleidoscopic look into Carmel’s past and present offering a glimpse into the future as you wind your way through the secrets of Carmel’s hidden alleys and courtyards. This tour is a perfect first stop and will help shape and color your perspective in Carmel. No Google or Wikipedia search comes close. Gael offers a first rate experience from start to finish. Learn more at https://www.gaelgallagher.com/
THINGS TO DO in CARMEL
Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Exploration and Sightseeing
Wish to explore the Carmel region minus your car and without breaking a sweat? Mad Dogs and Englishmen has brought the perfect solution to Carmel. This new bike shop offers pedal assisted bicycles that accommodate virtually any level of fitness.
We decided to go for a spin and came away as mightily impressed as all the other cyclists we chatted up with as they returned from their rides. Jennifer greeted us upon arrival and provided information on the different levels of bicycles. Some are geared for the serious cyclist seeking a vigorous workout while others are aimed toward casual riders preferring an electric propelled experience. With our sights set on an extended ride that would include some impressive hills and cool winds, we opted for the Tracker Vintage Electric Bike. With a seriously cool retro look and bold headlight, we selected a couple of funky looking helmets. With a range of up to 50 miles and speed of about 20 mph, off we went. (TIP: Ask for gloves to keep your hands warm!) Pedal as you like, press a button when you don’t! A computerized gauge keeps track of your battery and speed. Regenerative rear breaking (similar to a Prius!) helps boost battery life.
17 Mile Drive for Free!
The only thing left to do is explore and have fun! It’s easy to lose track of time, considering a half day to full day rental is a wise bet. Locks are included and bicycles can enter the magnificent 17-Mile Drive free of charge! The ride to Pebble Beach Lodge for a bite and drink is a terrific break point. Riding along 17- Mile Drive and exploring Carmel by bike is a more sensory filled experience than car travel. Of all our visits to this area, this will certainly be remembered as one of the most exciting. We couldn’t help but think, these just might be the perfect bicycles for avid travelers and retirees. For an amazing experience you won’t forget, check out Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop.
As one of California’s major grape growing regions, it’s only natural that Carmel-by-the-Sea is a popular stop for wine lovers. Carmel has a burgeoning assortment of wine tasting rooms tucked among the scenic alleys and courtyards throughout the village. A perfect accompaniment to a day of shopping and noshing on bites around town, enjoy tasting rooms from Hollywood moguls to local vintners. They all have one thing in common, a love of wine. Explore Wine Tasting in Carmel.
Whether you crave something casual or upscale, eateries throughout Carmel serve up delicious food with great ambiance. For this adventure, casual was the order of the day. We checked in on an old favorite and visited a newly renamed bistro in town.
Etats-Unis – French American Bistro
Formerly known as Lafayette French Kitchen, the owners recently renamed this French American Bistro to Etats-Unis. Located on Dolores St between 5th & 6th Ave, Etats-Unis is known for serving up Chef Peters take on traditional French comfort food. If the weather is agreeable, grab an available bistro table outdoors for a more authentic experience. Under the warm glow of the coastal sunshine, sit back, relax and peruse the menu over a bottle of wine while choosing from French favorites such as Escargot, Bouillabaisse, Crepes and more.
For seafood lovers, the Bouillabaisse is a tasty choice. A traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille, Bouillabaisse evolves to reflect different local regions where it is served. Served with Maine Lobster, mussels and clams along with country bread with rouille (a spicy mayonnaise), it’s a delicious blend of flavors and spices in a French classic. My better half opted for the Crepe with Nutella, banana, strawberries and whipped cream. “Definitely one of the better crepes I’ve had!” was her response. It’s a great day when sunshine, good food and wine come together in a scenic outdoor setting of Carmel. (Lunch for two runs about $30-$60) Learn more at Etats-Unis
A local favorite, set on the corner of 4th and San Carlos, Brophy’s has become a regular stop during our trips to Carmel. Brophy’s Tavern includes a solid selection of import and craft beer and specialty drinks in addition to scrumptious eats. Arrive during happy hour for great deals and a lively crowd.
An easy stroll from all points in Carmel, Brophys’ menu includes some bar favorites with a twist. Over the years, some of our best bets include the Giant Pretzel with (Bacon & Chive Cream Cheese, Spicy Sauerkraut Mustard), irresistible Truffle Fries (House Fries, Herbs, Garlic, Parmesan, Truffle Oil), Filet Mignon Sliders on French Roll to classic Fish and Chips. Brophy’s is a relaxing place to unwind with some beers and burgers after a day around Carmel.
A fun, casual time with a friendly staff awaits at Brophy’s. Dinner and drinks for two will only set you back a very reasonable $50 or so. Check out Brophy’s Tavern
WHERE TO STAY
Vagabond House Inn
Built circa late 1920’s, the Vagabond House is a Bed and Breakfast Inn that preserves a golden slice of vintage Carmel while providing modern era lodging comforts. With 11 spacious rooms surrounding a lush courtyard with fountain and fire pit, the Vagabond House gives one the sense they’ve arrived home to a family retreat in the country. It’s a warm and welcoming place to call home during your stay in Carmel. (Many thanks to Randall for the great hospitality!)
Each afternoon, between 4 and 6 pm each day, Vagabond guests from around the globe meander over to the intimate lobby for wine and cheese happy hour. Jazz music and a crackling fireplace play host as guests chat and mingle to share their day’s Carmel adventures. It’s the perfect pre-dinner gathering before heading back to your room to refresh for an evening on the town.
Breakfast in Bed
Carmel mornings can be a bit cool and damp. With your room’s fireplace keeping you toasty warm, the Vagabond delivers fresh breakfast and a pot of coffee to your room. Your preferences are noted upon check-in, just pick a time and you’re all set!
(RAVE: Ah, it’s good coffee!)
A bright and naturally lit spacious room with a nice view of the tree line is filled with much of Carmel’s character. The wood-beamed ceiling, gas fireplace and sliding barn door give way to a heated bathroom floor, an oversized retro looking tub and super large shower stall. The king sized bed provides super size comfort with a double pillow top mattress, ultra-comfortable down blankets and pillows.
(RAVE: Bed comfort & sleep quality = 5 Stars!)
Vagabond House Experience
Our stay at the, Vagabond House was a serene, extraordinarily comfortable and delightful experience with just the right blend of old style flair and modern travel. The Vagabond is a welcome option in Carmel when you want to relax and unwind in one of America’s most spectacular travel destinations. For planning your next stay or special occasion explore the Vagabond House Inn.
No matter how frequently you visit Carmel, there’s always something new, different and entertaining worth discovering. Carmel is one of the remarkable destinations where life seems to automatically switch gears, encouraging its visitors to slow down, rejuvenate and heal their spirits.
Guess you might say, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a Fairy Tale Kind of Town.
Carmel in Winter
The winter months are a perfect time to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea. Not only have the crowds diminished, but the Village’s inns offer favorable rates and value packages. Click here to view lodging options.
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