California’s central coast is home to many great towns worth exploring. One of my favorites is Carmel-By-The-Sea. It balances luxury and laid back, foodie and outdoors, and makes for one of my favorite weekend getaways. Being a short drive from San Francisco and having it’s own smaller airport just a few miles down the road, it can be a perfect way to explore the town with a weekend in Carmel.
While it can get pricey during the high season, the great thing about Carmel is the weather is beautiful all year round. Think about visiting in the late fall, over the winter, and early spring. You can sneak away from the winter weather around most of the country and get discounted rooms all throughout the city.
Spend a weekend in Carmel, exploring all that the town and region have to offer.
Note: Some stays, tours, passes, and meals were provided at no cost to the author. As always, all opinions remain my own. You’ll find affiliate links in this post which allow me to continue to improve Traveling Nine to Fiver. I hope this article is useful for you.
Go Cute or Classy With Your Accommodations
There are so many places to stay in Carmel. Some are right along the main drag, many are cute cottage like spots, some are expensive resorts, and you can often find a few with a great deal especially in the off-season.
Consider something a little unique by staying at Vendange Carmel Inn & Suite, the area’s only wine-themed hotel. I had a great stay a few month back, read a little more about. Here you’ll find fundecorations, good wine, and all the amenities you need.
Of all the cottage spot near the main drag take a look for a good deal at the Carmel Village Inn, a short walk to just about everything and a great breakfast in the morning.
If you want to step up the luxury and stay right in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you’ll want to check out La Playa Carmel. Thinking the coast is more your style for a splurge? If so get away from downtown and enjoy the breathtaking view at Hyatt Carmel Highlands.
Enjoy The Foodie Culture of the Town
For a casual breakfast visit From Scratch. Diner style and absolutely delicious, it’s a perfect place to fill up before heading out on your adventure. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lazy lunch pop over to The Cottage. Enjoy a latte with some salmon and lox or a breakfast burrito.
For a lazy lunch on the beach, swing by the Cheese Shop and pull together your own cheese inspired picnic to enjoy down on the sand.
For dinner, you’ll find countless options around the city. My most popular recommendation by friends is consistently Damertra Cafe, a greek restaurant right on the main drag. If you’re thinking pizza you won’t want to miss La Bicycelette. Or if tapas sounds more your style for the evening check out Mundaka.
If you need more ideas check out my favorite spots to eat around Carmel and throughout the Monterey Bay area here.
Get Outside With Beaches Trails and More
Whether you want a grand adventure or to just soak in the sun, there are so many great outdoor adventures right around Carmel.
If you’re just looking for a lazy outdoor day, wander down to Carmel Beach. Take a dip, walk along scenic drive or have a bonfire in the evening.
Thinking of taking a hike along the coastline? Just south of Carmel you’ll find Point Lobos State Park. The park has short walks to scenic views, hikes anyone can do, and if you’re looking for something longer a 7-mile loop around the park.
For some of the best views in the state and great hiking trails, drive down to Big Sur. Stop and see the view Bixby Bridge and take a hike to Pfeiffer Beach.
If you’re thinking of getting out on the water you’ll want to head up into Monterey for a chance to go whale watching and see all the wildlife up close.
Wander Your Way Around Local Wineries
There are two great ways to wine taste in Carmel. The first is heading up to the Carmel Valley. Just a few minute drive from downtown you’ll find breathtaking vineyards and a chance to taste many of the regional wineries. You can drive up yourself, rent a driver, or get a ticket to hop on the Wine Trolley.
Another great way to wine taste in Carmel that allows you to skip the car is the Carmel Wine Walk. There are 15 different tasting rooms in the downtown winery that take part in this walk. You can buy a pass from the city that includes 9 tastes for just $65. A great deal when most tastings in the city cost $15. Split it between two people are use it over the course of the weekend.
If you’re looking for even more wine country, consider heading up to the Soledad wine region. Read about a few of my favorite spots in that neck of the woods.
Enjoy a Luxurious Weekend in Carmel of Food, Wine, & Coastline
No matter where you stay and what you do it’s hard not to enjoy a weekend in Carmel. For me, the town offers some of the best of my favorite things – food, wine, and the ocean.
On top of Carmel itself, there is so much to explore around the region. Head south to come across Big Sur, east you’ll wine country and the Pinnacles National Park, and north Monterey has so much to offer. If you’re staying longer than a weekend in Carmel, be sure to check out some of my “Best Things to Do Around Monterey & Carmel”.