Dreamy California Weekends | Carmel-by-the-Sea

A few months ago we spent a long weekend in Northern California. We watched the HBO series, Big Little Lies, which is filmed in the Carmel and Monterrey area. The scenery left an impression on us and inspired a trip to see this part of the country ourselves. I was excited about the trip but didn’t expect it would go down as one of my favorite vacations. We have been fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful places in the world — New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Switzerland and the list goes on. The bar is set pretty high. Well, Carmel-by-the-Sea left me in awe. Are you looking for a dreamy, romantic getaway? Look no further…

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What To Do

Drive U.S. Highway 1 | It is so incredibly gorgeous. Do not miss this drive! You really don’t need a plan… just drive for however long you desire! There are spots along the way to stop to take in the views and get photos. I highly recommend stopping at Nepenthe for a meal or snack.

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17-mile drive in picturesque Pebble Beach |This is an easy, short drive with beautiful views and some seriously impressive homes. Yes, we did Google a few of the addresses to see if we could figure out who the lucky people are to live there!

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Hike in Point Lobos State Reserve |The park has several coastal trails with views of the sea and wildlife. The park rangers were very helpful with providing guidance on which trails to take. From our perspective, this is leisurely walking rather than strenuous hiking. A great way to spend a few hours!

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Walk through the town of Carmel | Prepare to fall in love! I mean… the houses, shops, restaurants! Definitely one of the most charming towns I’ve ever visited. We didn’t do any actual shopping (think luxury stores!) but enjoyed getting lost in the neighborhood streets.

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Visit Carmel State Beach | When we were there in April it was too cool for swimming or lounging, but still a beautiful spot for walk or to take a few chairs and blankets and enjoy the views!

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Monterey Peninsula Trail | We actually stumbled onto this spot. We were driving and noticed a beautiful trail along the water. We decided to hop out and walk for a few minutes.

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Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey |Monterrey has a very different vibe than Carmel. The wharf is pretty touristy but still a fun place to check out and/or eat.

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Where to Eat

Mission Ranch Restaurant |This was our favorite restaurant. The views are just so beautiful (seems like I keep saying that)! I loved the mix of farm and ocean vibes. The outdoor patio is so cozy and a great spot to enjoy a bottle of wine.

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Pacific’s Edge | We had dinner at this restaurant as well. And, again, the views were just incredible! This restaurant is located in a hotel, the Hyatt Highlands. The food didn’t strike me as exceptional but I would definitely return for the views.

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La Bicyclette |This is a European restaurant located near the center of town. We shared a delicious pizza here for lunch after hiking in Point Lobos. This would be a good dinner spot as well!

Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting | Good spot in the center of town to have coffee and breakfast.

Nepenthe | Located along US Highway 1 in Big Sur. Another restaurant with great views and food!

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Where to stay

We stayed at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa. The reason we selected this hotel because I had enough points to stay for there three nights. It was fine — I’d give it somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars. It’s in a central location, clean, and spacious rooms. There’s also a pool, restaurant, golf course, and spa. So, it does have the “resort” feel.

Other hotels worth considering: Mission Ranch, Cypress Inn, Hyatt Highlands Inn. I think the best way to search for hotels is through TripAdvisor.

How to use points

Our flights and hotels were covered through points. We flew from Baltimore-Washington (BWI) to San Jose, CA on the outbound trip. On the return, we flew from Oakland, CA to BWI. San Jose is the closest major airport to Carmel. On the way home, we went spent a day in San Francisco so that’s the reason we flew out of Oakland. My ticket was 22,000 Southwest points roundtrip. Ben flew for free as my companion. We stayed three nights at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa. The hotel was 15,000 points/night so 45,000 points total. The value of the flights and hotel was $1,500!

It was a wonderful weekend that we will remember forever. Still keeping our fingers crossed that someday we will land in California, permanently!

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Emily KenneyComment