I am officially in love with Carmel! It's the most charming little town complete with art, beaches, wine and dining. And it's full of unique B&B-style hotels that add to the appeal of a retreat destination that welcomes tourists without feeling too cookie-cutter touristy. I have always wanted to visit, but thought it was such a far drive that I'd "do it some other time". Boy, was I wrong! The road trip from the LA/OC area is very pleasant and you can get up there in under six hours. Now that I've been, I can't wait to go back!
I had the pleasure of spending the weekend at Hofsas House Hotel - if you've been to Carmel you may recognize it as the adorable pink hotel. Family owned for more than 60 years, this German-style establishment is welcoming and boasts a central location. In our spacious room we had a king bed, two chairs, a dining area, fireplace, fridge, and microwave. For $30 you can also add a wine package that includes a bottle, two cheeses, and crackers - very reasonable and perfect for enjoying next to the fire. From our balcony we had a view of the ocean and when we walked out the front door we were surrounded with beautiful flowers and trees. The setting was so serene.
In the morning pick up complimentary breakfast that includes local pastries, fruits, juice, and coffee. While you're in the lobby, the knowledgeable staff is happy to help with information and suggestions. We even had the pleasure of meeting with the Hofsas House owner, Carrie. She takes great pride in the hotel that her grandmother built, and knows all about Carmel. We asked her so many questions and were thrilled at how much she helped us sort out our day. Plus we have the same alma matter, so I liked her even more (Go CSUF!). Having such a cheerful start to our day in turn made us excited to explore.
And if all that weren't enough to convey how marvelous Hofsas House is, the hotel is rated four out of five stars on Trip Advisor and has a Certificate of Excellence from the site, earned for consistently great reviews.
When venturing out, you won't need to take the car to explore, leave it at the hotel (parking is free!) and walk around the city. You'll feel as if you're in Europe as you stop at restaurants, partake in wine tasting, and admire the many courtyards and secret passageways of Carmel. I am kicking myself for not getting any pictures of the town. I was so in awe of everything that I completely failed on photo taking.
In between exploring Monterey, we spent our time wine tasting. I highly recommend purchasing Wine Walk-by-the-Sea tickets and splitting it between two people. For $65 you'll get nine tastings at 15 different tasting rooms, and if you buy a bottle, some places will let you keep your tasting ticket. The two of us were able to each drink at four tasting rooms and we still have a few tickets left. And the tickets don't expire so they can be used on the next trip! Our favorite location was De Tierra Vineyards. Great staff, good pours, and a wonderful Merlot that my friend purchased. We also got a bottle of Sauvigon Blanc at Wrath that is delicious. It's worth making a stop at Caraccioli Cellars for the Rose Brute, just don't expect good service. Keep in mind that all of the tasting rooms are within walking distance, so you don't have to worry about catching an Uber. Whereas places like Napa are spread out, in Carmel you can easily walk from hotel to all of the locations. And everyone walks, so even at night we felt safe.
Are you dying to take a trip to Carmel yet? I already want to go back and it hasn't even been a week! I wish I'd extended my stay for an additional day. While we did everything on my travel list, I think having an extra day in Carmel would have been perfect. You can enjoy an entire trip without having to leave the town. On Sunday we checked out with the sunrise and headed to Carmel Beach. This is an absolute must! The pristine white sand, vibrant blue water, Pebble Beach view, and dog-friendly rules made for a memorable morning and finale to our Carmel weekend.
-The town loves dogs! You can take them with you everywhere including Hofsas House.
-October is a great month to visit. Weather is nice and fog is minimal so you have clear views.
-Clint Eastwood is a resident and was a former mayor. You'll see homage to him throughout the city.
-Take time to explore the 42 passageways and courtyards. You'll feel like you're in a fairy tale.
-The 17-Mile Drive and Monterrey are only minutes away (roughly $10 via Uber to Fisherman's Warf).
-Have dinner at Dametra Cafe, it's delicious.
-Grab all the fixings for a picnic from 5th Ave. Deli and take it to the beach or on a drive.
Be sure to check out my tips for road tripping to Carmel, plus guide to visiting Monterey in one day.
And check out Hofsas House when you travel to Carmel!
Disclaimer: I was invited a complimentary stay at Hofsas House Hotel and Wine Walk-by-the-Sea tickets in exchange for honest reviews. All thoughts are my own.