It’s hard to describe the breadth of natural beauty that one can see in such a small area that encompasses Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley. The light in the valley, the Cypress trees along the coast, the white sand beaches, and the plentiful hikes are just some of the reasons that would pull the two of us back out to Carmel in a heartbeat. If only we could get our pal, Orvis there – Carmel was one of the most dog-friendly locations we’ve ever visited!
Carmel Valley Ranch
There are plenty of memorable parts from our stay at the Carmel Valley Ranch, but the one that remains at the forefront of our memories is definitely the light. Whether at sunrise or dusk, the light in the valley – over the rolling hills and filtered through the branches of the scraggly, old live oaks, bathes every part of the property in richness and warmth, and helps its visitors settle into a perfect state of relaxation. Read and see more about our stay at Carmel Valley Ranch here.
Point Lobos State Reserve
We spent the better part of a week exploring some of California’s most beautiful scenery, but we both agree that Point Lobos was our favorite spot from this trip. Read and see more about our two visits to Point Lobos here.
Lafayette Bakery & Cafe
On our drive out of town down to Big Sur one morning, we stopped at this French bakery for a couple of ham and cheese croissants to take with us on the road. Breakfast was delicious, but what we loved the most about Lafayette was the locals-only vibe.
The Cheese Shop
Picnicking while on vacation has quickly become one of our favorite ways to experience a new location, and lucky for us, this aptly named shop in town provided us with two nights of picnic provisions, including two cheeses (a Paso Robles Goat Gouda & a Spanich Manchego), a bottle of Luli Pinot Noir, and our favorite Marcona almonds.
Bruno’s Market and Deli
We’d read about the famous deli tri-tip sandwiches at Bruno’s in the NY Times, which turned out to be the perfect picnic supplement to the cheeses and wine we’d picked up at The Cheese Shop. Standing in line at Bruno’s, we again felt like we’d happened upon a local’s favorite in a town quite full of tourists.
With a name such as this, one would certainly expect Scenic Road to be quite beautiful, but we were stunned by both the homes and the views when we happened upon this road while driving in Carmel. We ended up circling back to park on this Cypress tree-lined street overlooking the ocean to get the full effect while walking the Scenic Bluff Path.
Carmel Beach & Carmel River State Beach
We picnicked on both of these beaches two evenings in a row and had delightfully different experiences at each one. Carmel Beach, located right in the center of town off of Scenic Road, attracted a few more people, and because it’s one of the few off-leash dog beaches in the area, a number of happy dogs. We felt right at home watching the pups run up and down this beautiful stretch of the coast, and even made a few friends while we were there. Carmel River State Beach caught our eye on the windier of the two nights because it seemed a little more protected from the elements. That evening, we shared our meal with only a seal and a pair of seagulls!
Our final meal of the trip before we left for San Francisco was breakfast at Katy’s Place. The Fresh Berry Pancakes are not to be missed!
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.