It was a no-brainer for me when I was asked to come and visit Carmel-by-the-Sea. I’d only been to California one other time for a research conference when I was in college, so I was excited to have the opportunity to visit for leisure.
Carmel is in the middle of the California coast, north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco, and right near Big Sur, if you’re familiar with that. It’s a tiny city – just one square mile and only about 3,800 residents – and my favorite fact about it is that there are no street addresses. That’s right, every business owner and resident must pick up their mail at the local post office because there are no street numbers.
My Carmel trip began with a flight to the Monterey airport which, happily, was just a 10 minute drive from my inn. I stayed at the quaint and charming Carmel Garden Inn, which has only 10 rooms, all named after flowers. My mini-suite was called “Lavender” and had a kitchenette with wet bar, two beds, a nicely remodeled bathroom, and a private patio.
Carmel has a mild climate, with an average high of 65 degrees and low of 48 degrees year-round, so I was advised to dress in layers while visiting. I like to travel as light as I can, so I only brought a carry-on sized suitcase and filled it with mostly neutral clothing with a few pops of color. For shoes, I packed a pair of Toms, a pair of dressy but comfortable sandals with a Cuban heel, and a pair of workout sneakers. (Check out the links for the exact shoes I brought.)
Fun fact: don’t even bother bringing high heels to Carmel. They’re illegal! Seriously, if you really want to wear them, you have to apply for a permit!
Two of the many awesome things about the Carmel Garden Inn were the totally free wine and cheese happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. and the free breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. every day. I took advantage of the happy hour two times while I was there, but I had the breakfast every day!
After arriving, I had a couple of hours of R&R before walking to our first day dinner spot, Vesuvio. Chef Pèpe has several business ventures, including this restaurant and another restaurant in town. The ambiance at Vesuvio was beautifully moody and the Italian fare hit the spot after a long day of traveling from coast to coast.
I had the Cioppino Rosso. I did not regret it. It consisted of prawns, scallops, mussels, clams, calamari & crab in a spicy pescatore sauce over capellini.
For dessert, I ordered the spumoni alla napoletana gelato. The cherry and pistachio combination was the perfect nightcap, and I went to bed full and happy that night.
Admit it, you’re booking your flight to Monterey now, aren’t you? I don’t blame you. Carmel is wonderful.
Comments & Reviews
Robin (Masshole Mommy) says
Look how cozy that Inn looks! I would LOVE to grab Chris and head there for a romantic getaway!
Marybeth Hamilton says
First, heels are illegal in Carmel?!? That’s so bizzare! Someday I want to go on a lovely, beachy getaway all by myself that also offers free wine and cheese. It looks like such a dream come true!
I love that heels are illegal–they should be banned everywhere as far as I’m concerned! I would love to stay in a little town like that–peaceful and quiet and the rooms and that patio look so inviting!
Jenna Wood says
I hope you enjoyed your time here in California! I’ll have to hunt down PepeCello, it sounds divine!
Derek L says
I would love to try that gelato, my 2 favorite flavors
Karissa @WithOurBest (@withourbest) says
How relaxing! And free wine and cheese happy hour? Can’t be un-happy (hour) about that!
Robin (Masshole Mommy) says
It doesn’t get better than wine and cheese, does it? My kind of place.
That looks like such a neat place to go. I think the food looks amazing too!
Well it sounds like you had an amazing time. A warm cozy inn and great food sounds like heaven to me.
Amanda L says
High heels illegal? I’d be in trouble! Looks like a really nice getaway though.
Rebecca Bryant says
Wow what a beautiful place you got to visit. I Love California can’t wait to go back in March.
What a beautiful destination and the food looks amazing! This is a trip I would love to go on and it looks like a great place to relax!
Janis @MommyBlogExpert says
I live in SoCal and really miss Carmel. I haven’t been there in years but because of your post I’m already a planning a trip north.
I love the small quaint beach towns in California. It looks just adorable in Carmel-by-the-Sea!
Looks like a fun place to stay, I’ll definitely have to add this to my list. I’m always looking for new places too stay.
Looks like a lovely place to visit
Mmm… that Cioppino Rosso looks so good. I have heard all good things about Carmel by the Sea!
Lois Alter Mark says
We haven’t been there in years but I remember it being beautiful. I definitely want to go back after reading this!
That inn looks so cozy! It definitely makes me want to visit!
What a beautiful place to visit.
As a Midwesterner that used to live in Los Angeles, the culture differences can be overwhelming. But the food there more than makes up for it!
Michelle F. says
It looks like so such a great place to stay at. I love the free wine and cheese!
Amanda || Growing Up Madison says
My daughter visited California this past summer and she loved it there and said she’s now thinking of moving there permanently. Guess it kinda reminded her of NY.
This looks so beautiful! I would love to stay there!
Claudia Krusch says
It looks so beautiful! I would love to have enjoyed time there! It looks like you had an amazing time!
OH my, everything looks amazing. I’d love to go to Caramel, so pretty!
Tonya C says
We moved from California a few years ago and man, I sure do miss it. Carmel is stunning! Enjoy your time there.
Stacey- Travel Blogger says
This place looks so beautiful. I would love to visit Cali.
valmg @ Mom Knows It All says
High heels are illegal?! Wow! It sounds lovely there. I love fireplaces and miht have never left the room.
Carol Bryant says
As a dog writer and blogger, I know Carmel by the Sea is very pet friendly and plan to get there on a future cross country trip with my family, and the dog is part of that!
That’s great to know. Finding somewhere for our pets can be stressful. I’d love to be able to bring them along.
It really is! There was a poodle party that weekend at one of the other hotels in town.
Carol Bryant says
Omgoodness a poodle party? How fun is that!
That dessert looks delish. Sound like you had a wonderful stay! I’ve never visited Carmel but would love to one day!
Vera Sweeney says
Oh my gosh the food looks amazing! What an amazing patio to get to relax on, I could totally enjoy a cup of tea there.
Adriana Martin says
I have heard so many good thing about Carmel now I need to visit soon looks so cozy and great food too!
Amy Desrosiers says
What a cozy place to chill out at! I love fire places and the fact that the wood was there ready for you.
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
I visited Carmel by the sea once when we were driving from San Fran to LA! It was such a beautiful place! Your dessert looks incredibly delicious!
Jessica Harlow says
I live in Maine and have only visited Washington State on the west coast. I’d love to visit California and would definitely include a stop in Carmel!
Jaime Nicole says
Wow, how peaceful and lovely. I went to Carmel for a day trip about a decade ago and it was great, but I obviously need to get back there!
Alli Smith says
I would love to visit this quaint place for a nice, relaxing weekend. Looks like a great place to unwind and the food looks incredible.
Mama to 5 BLessings says
Sounds like a wonderful relaxing place to stay! I do not wear heals anyway so I would fit in!
Carmel is one of my favorite places in CA. That picture of the succulent in the planter is amazing and really shows what the temperature is like there.
Amanda Ripsam says
Maybe it’s because of how tired I am but that bed looks so warm and inviting. I don’t think I would want to leave it. Plus it’s raining and chilly here in Michigan.
I’ve always heard that Carmel is one of the most gorgeous places on the west coast. I’d love to visit one day. Your pictures certainly have me eager to get there sooner than later!
High heels are illegal!!!! Ok that is my kind of place.
Aunesty Reikofski says
I haven’t been to Carmel in years…your pics make me want to head back to California and spend a week at the beach.
I want to go to Carmel by the Sea now! I saw your photos on instagram and I was so jealous. California is beautiful and it looks like you had a great time.
I have never heard of that city! It sounds like my kind of town. I don’t wear heals ever so I am good with that rule! It looks like a beautiful place that I will have to check out at some point.
Great post dear! I love it:)
Savannah Miller says
It looks like you had a lovely time! My hubby and I are going to start to travel, we may need to check out Carmel 🙂
Beautiful. A perfect place to write for hours and hours. 🙂 wow.
Sara P. (@SensiblySara) says
I don’t wear heels but I am having a hard time understanding why they are illegal in Carmel! It looks like you had a great time! I know I would have enjoyed that inn.
Catherine S says
This looks like a great place to stay and all the food looks yummy. I will add this to my must visit list.
Elizabeth O. says
Very beautiful! I love the beds, it looks so comfy, I don’t think I’d want to leave. Everything makes you feel so at home.
Ah Carmel! It is one of the places in the world I’d love to visit. I hear it’s so beautiful there. When I used to work at the Hyatt we had property there and before kids…well lets just say I wish I took advantage of my employee perks.
Jennifer Stewart says
I have never been to Carmel but I want to go. The only place I went to in California was Napa, which was great, but I am so ready to experience other parts of CA and all the food and sights that it has. This would be a great place to start! Love your photos too!
It really is a charming place! I’d love to stay in one of the flower rooms. So cozy!
Oh, it looks like a magical little place to visit. I love that you can’t wear heels, I don’t own any so I would fit right in.
Sarah Bailey says
Oh my goodness what a lovely looking place – that room and the food, if I could I would be on my way now! x
Looks like such a charming and relaxing place. Not to mention, that food has me salivating!
dana vento says
this truly looked luxurious and beautiful.. while the food looked sumptuous.
Looks like a really comfy place to stay. Carmel by the sea sounds really awesome too, sounds really inviting.
Carmel does look wonderful! Not gonna lie, I could use an escape like that right about now!
This is so beautiful! And the food looks delicious!
Carmel by the Sea seems like it is a fest for the eyes and tummy. I would love to explore sans kids and take a break at a beautiful place like this.
Donna Ward says
What a fun adventure – and I didn’t know high heels were not legal there. We’ve been there, as we used to go to the area annually – and were married at Big Sur – Honeymooning at their wonderful cabins – I love the Carmel Garden Inn, it looks cozy
Wow, it must have been an amazing wedding!
Jennifer Clay says
This looks like it is a very nice place to stay and have a relaxing time. The food also looks really good.
That is so quaint. It looks like a fun place to go. Those beds are so cozy!
Kelly Hutchinson says
I honestly don’t think I have ever seen such a gorgeous room. What a great place to visit!
Toni | BoulderLocavore says
My Grandparents lived in Pebble Beach so I spent a lot of time in Carmel while I was growing up. It is such a charming place. I hope you walked around and enjoyed the beach too!
Cindy (Prime Beauty) says
I was there as a child on a family trip, would love to visit again!
Amber NElson says
That looks like such a great place to visit! How beautiful!
Oh my, what a fun place to travel. I have never been to CA, but would love to go one day. The Cioppino Rosso sounds amazing
tara pittman says
Looks like a nice place with great food. I love the no heels rule
Amy Desrosiers says
I wish I was brave to come out of my “travel” shell. I would love to visit and see and experience this destination.
Mistee Dawn says
Sounds like a beautiful town and that little Inn is so adorable! And the food looks amazing!
Ann Bacciaglia says
Carmel-by-the-Sea looks like an amazing place for a vacation. I love that the rooms are named after flowers. The food looks so delicious.
I love going to California. I will have to check out Carmel next time. Vesuvio looks like an amazing place to go for a delicious meal.
It does look incredible. I love seeing the sights, but food is one of my favorite reasons to travel.
Elizabeth Lampman says
This would be a fantastic vacation. Carmel Garden Inn looks like a great place to stay. Free wine and cheese happy hour and a free breakfast every day is fantastic.
Oh man, was it awesome!
Free wine and cheese? That’s awesome! I could stay there all afternoon. 🙂
Looks like a nice place to visit and the food was look awesome. I would love to visit there
Kristin Wheeler says
What a quaint Inn to visit. Next time I am in CA, I will have to check it out. Love the rooms!
Looks like the perfect place to get away and relax a bit. I don’t mind the no heels rule… hate those things lol. Amazing food and love the accommodations you had… beautiful.
Sarah L says
I don’t even own any heels anymore. Beautiful place, good food.
Chelley @ A is For Adelaide says
OMG what a trip! I would love to travel back to the West Coast!
Stacey- Travel Blogger says
I agree, this looks like an amazing trip! I would love to go to California.
I’m so jealous!! It looks like it was a fantastic holiday. Wow the food and the place seems phenomenal.
Autumn @Mamachallenge says
That looks like a great place to visit! I would love to take a trip there!
[email protected] says
That hotel looks great. The foods look wonderful.
Janis @MommyBlogExpert says
I live in Southern California and haven’t been to Carmel in years. Thanks for your post which reminded me that I need to visit that beautiful little seaside city soon.
I’ve been to California a number of times, but never that far north. Beautiful place! And how crazy is that about the high heels
Annie M says
I have the luxury of being just an hour away from Carmel. Such a gorgeous place! Did you go do the 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach?
I did that drive once in college, and it was just stunning. The trees make it feel like a movie set.
What a lovely place! I would LOVE to spend a few days there!
Jennifer Williams says
That would make great weekend get away for us – I am going to have to share this with my husband. Such a beautiful hotel and that food looks amazing.
You two would love it. It really was a romantic setting.
We travel to Carmel-by-the-Sea every once and awhile on our way up the coast. This looks like a great place to check out next time we are there. Carmel is such a beautiful place to visit. Would love to live there.
I’ve never been, but it sounds like a great place to visit.
Angie Scheie says
I’ve only been to Carmel once, but it is so beautiful! Your pictures are lovely, and that gelato is making my mouth water!
Carmel by the sea I love the food especially the desert the cherry and pistachio gelato awesome thanks for sharing.
I love California, but have never visited Carmel-by-the-Sea. Your post makes me want to visit and stay in that beautiful lavender room and visit that fabulous restaurant too.
Sabrina @ Dinner, then Dessert says
Carmel is a beautiful place to visit! Sounds like you had an amazing time!
Ciopinno is my favorite seafood dish and so pricey at most restaurant. I’ve never been to Carmel by The Sea. Looks nice
This looks like a really nice place to stay. I should plan our next vacation here.
Your room looks awesome and the food looks delicious. I would love to visit Carmel someday.
I’ve never been to California, but I’ve heard that the weather is beautiful. 65 average year round certainly works for me! I’m in NY and we go from super hot and humid to 20 below in what seems like ten minutes around here. I’d love to visit a place without a rapidly changing climate!
Kam Kay says
It’s been a few years since I last visited Monterey, but I have fond memories. Thanks for reviving them. Hope to visit there again soon!
I’ve never been there, Love the beds decor, and those foods are looks yummy.
Wood Arts Universe says
I have been there .. great place to stay
Jasmine Watts says
Wow, sounds like great place to stay!! All the pictures are stunning!!!
Jonathan Key says
I’ve never been to Carmel by the sea but it does look like so much fun! Seems like a very restful environment too. The room looks amazing and the food looks delicious. May have to take the wife up there one day!
Michele D says
I’ve never been to that part of California but it looks so lovely! Those food pictures are making me hungry. Ha-ha
Karlyn Cruz says
The good looks great, especially the dessert. My travel wishlist is growing!
Chrystal | YUM eating says
That place is super cute! I have never been to California. I have a cousin who lives outside of LA. One of these days I am going to have to visit her. I might just have to put this place on my ‘travel idea’ places to visit list.
Rebecca Swenor says
I have never heard of Carmel before but it sounds peaceful and looks gorgeous. It is different how you need a permit to wear high heels there. Carmel Garden Inn looks amazing and so does the food.. Thanks for sharing.
Never been to Cali and those pictures are certainly calling me to visit. 🙂
Marcie W. says
I just love California and consider it such a blessing to live within driving distance of the state. Carmel looks like a quaint and quiet destination, which is exactly what I need these days.
Rocio Chavez says
Oh my goodness – how cute is this place. And the food – OMG delish!
Looks like an adorable place! Are heels really illegal? That’s awesome!
Looks like a really good place.
Hibby and I don’t leave Oklahoma too often. This would be a fun getaway without the children.
I love the bedding wow! Also those dishes look super tasty. wow. thanks for sharing.
Bonnie @wemake7 says
I’ve never personally been to California but would love to. Carmel looks really beautiful.
Shaney Vijendranath says
Love the bedroom. It looks so cozy. Since I’m having like four hours of sleep at the moment, I wouldnt mind jumping in.
Paula Schuck says
I would love to go on a vacation in California. I do not wear heels so the no heels law would be fine with me. This looks like a great place to stay.
Shann Eva says
Looks like a wonderful place to visit. A great place to stay, great food, and a cute room….plus, the weather sounds fabulous. I wish I could book my flight right now..seriously.
Shelley Zurek says
Carmel just went on my bucket list. I must go there to stay in that charming inn and try the Cioppino Rosso! Seriously, what this about high heels being illegal?
The room in the Inn is absolutely beautiful. I love how comfortable the beds look.
Ashley Gill says
I want to go here!!! This looks amazing! That dessert.. Oh my gosh, Yumm!!
Wow, I can’t believe high heels are illegal. It sounds like my kind of place, lol!
I know right? Haha.
K. Lee Banks says
Looks like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing your trip through such great pictures. I would love to stay at that Inn!
Lisa Rios says
Carmel looks like a beautiful place to stay & the Lavender suite looks absolutely fabulous. Oh I am in love with that cherry and pistachio dessert so much. Would love a visit for sure.
Ranesha Wilson says
New bucket list item. Free wine and cheese yum.
rosemary palmer says
This is one place in Cali I would love to visit. That inn is so cute – my kind of place. you had me at wine.
That’s funny about the permit. It does look like an amazingly peaceful place to visit.
Uplifting Families says
This looks like a cozy place to stay. I would love to visit Carmel, I haven’t heard of it until now. Illegal to wear high heels, that is kinda cool. High heels are horrible for your feet and back anyways.
Elizabeth O says
This post brought back memories of my time in Monterey. It is a truly beautiful part of California. 🙂
Camesha | Mama Motivator says
Carmel is beautiful! We’re in Los Angeles and have taken weekend trips up that way.
This looks just lovely! Glad you enjoyed!
Katie Reed says
Everything looks so nice. I really love the beds with the wicker headboards. They look so comfy and charming.
Omg being the total foodie that I am, of course I’m going to have to comment on the food! Everything looks absolutely delicious!!! Yum!
maria s. says
What a beautiful place to visit. Everything looks incredible, especially the food and all of the amenities.
Debbie Denny says
Gosh that looks like a fabulous place to stay. Love that heels are against the law. Beautiful room.
Shell Feis says
That place sounds amazing! That’s so crazy about the high heels though, I wonder why that is!
Holly @ Woman Tribune says
Carmel sounds like a seriously cool place! I love that there are no street addresses. I’m not sure how I would feel about it if I lived there, though, since if we’re being honest here, there are some days where I’m not too keen on leaving the house and so I don’t. I guess I just wouldn’t get my mail on those days. It does look like a lovely place to visit, though.
Haha. I know what you mean – sometimes leaving the house just isn’t worth it!
Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen says
Carmel by the Sea looks like a really nice place to stay! I would love to stay there.