Enjoy Carmel without hurting your wallet

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA,- If there’s a more romantically spectacular place in California than Carmel, we’re hard pressed to find it. Carmel-by-the-Sea, a small oceanfront community also has a reputation as being a bit pricey.

Unparalleled ocean views, gourmet dining and first rate shopping experience all add to Carmel’s never ending appeal which drives prices out of bounds for many travelers. Thankfully, options are available that can make Carmel a regular in your travel destinations. With some careful planning, you too can experience the splendors of Carmel offers without breaking the bank.

Consider a mid-week visit during the offseason and you’ll find yourself saving big while avoiding the peak weekend crowds that descend upon Carmel.

Lodging: Affordable with Great Location

For lodging, The Hofsas House is an affordable option with an ideal location and friendly, helpful staff. This Bavarian styled hotel recently celebrated its 70th year and we’ve been here several times. You’ll love its walking proximity to everything Carmel! You can easily park your car and forget it during your entire stay. Mid-week rates vary on rooms, but at around $125 night, it’s an incredible deal for a premium location.  Rooms are large, clean and comfortable. Inquire about checking into an ocean view room with a fireplace. Family size accommodations are also available here. Perfect for on the go, complimentary local pastries along with juice and coffee are provided each morning in the lobby. There’s so much to see and do in Carmel, so we often rely on the staff to find some  great options for affordable fun.  Learn more at Hofsas House.

Lunch Break

With the car parked and bags unpacked, to begin enjoying Carmel simply walk out your door. There’s plenty to explore in the three short blocks before getting to the main strip of Ocean Ave. Carmel is a fantastic place to ditch agendas and meander at your own pace amongst the shops and eateries until finding something stirs your interest. On a budget, Carmel Belle is a yummy, funky style, very casual eatery to grab a bite. Grab a seat in the back by the fire place and enjoy some of their delicious menu offerings. Lunch for two can be had for around $30. Breakfast is also served. Visit Carmel Belle

Unparalleled Beauty

When it’s time to take a break from window shopping, head down Ocean Ave toward to beach and hang a left on Scenic Rd. Walk a short distance and hop on the Scenic Road Walkway for one of the most incredible oceanfront strolls anywhere in the United States. We suggest walking all the way to Carmel River State Beach. Be sure to bring a camera and dress in layers. There is a public restroom along the walkway. NOTE: We highly recommend planning to visit this area just before dusk to soak in over the top view sunset.

After a busy day of walking, we took our tired legs back to the Hofsas to refresh for dinner. We decided on the short 2 mile drive to Lugano’s Swiss Bistro located in the very cool Barnyard Shopping Plaza. A Carmel institution for over 20 years, Lugano’s is a traditional Swiss /German eatery heavily decorated with items brought back from Switzerland. We quickly settled in with a cold glass of Spaten and Central Coast red wine before ordering the Schnitzel with spatzli which reminded us of home cooking at its most scrumptious. We indulged a bit with the dessert fondue. Assorted fruits, toasted marshmallows and lady fingers to dip in melted chocolate. Yum! Dinner for two is reasonably priced, drinks and dessert added only slightly to the budget. The Lugano’s experience far exceeded our expectations and we eagerly anticipate our next visit. Check their tasty offerings online at Lugano Swiss Bistro

For more opportunities, check out our Carmel and Monterey Travel Guide