Carmel by the Sea. It could be the sweetest little town on earth. Like a seaside village out of a fairytale, Carmel delivers beauty in abundance. It's no wonder artists, writers and poets have thrived here for over a century. Founded by bohemians and romantics, the creative spirit of Carmel charmed us all. Here's a look at our afternoon in Carmel-by-the-Sea!
Look, maybe touch, never pick was our motto. Little girls love to pick flowers!
Flowers, flowers, everywhere! The streets of Carmel are made up of meticulous cobble stone alleys which lead to hidden courtyards, manicured boulevards hosting a lush canopy of trees, and hanging baskets of the prettiest west coast flowers and vines. Thatched roofs cover tea houses, art galleries, boutiques and inns. It's pure romance.
The Carmel Bay Company had the most beautiful lamps with shell shades. Perfect for a cozy reading nook in my future thatched cottage or hobbit hole, right?
It was easy to spend the entire afternoon wandering in and out of shops, just soaking up the ambiance. I did a bit of research ahead of time on where to shop and discovered the Carmel Hat Company. When I saw it in person, I hopped right in. It took merely 5 minutes and I was out with the prettiest handmade sun hat I've ever seen. Surprisingly, it wasn't even that pricy at $45 US. If you like hats, don't miss this shop!
Bakeries, sweetshops and patisseries everywhere and I take one single photo of a Starbucks. Doh!
Carmel was beautiful, romantic and very worth visiting. Being completely transparent about our experience here as a couple with two kids, I have a few additional comments. When seeking places to stay during our time in Monterey I did some research. The majority of Inns right in Carmel seem to be targeting couples. It was hard to find a room that would accommodate 4 and a few outright stated that they don't market to families. Oddly enough though, Carmel is notoriously dog-friendly and most hotels and restaurants welcome "fur-babies". Go figure. I swear my kids slobber and chew on things a lot less!!!
The dining scene is bent strongly towards adult tastes so if your kid isn't one to enjoy oysters or espresso you might find yourself a bit challenged in finding options. Luke and Todd did enjoy a gourmet PB&J though!
I am almost always proud of Luke and Eve for how they show manners and restraint in shops and restaurants. Overall I think they did as best as they could browsing jewelry shops and clothing boutiques with me, but having Todd right there to keep a close eye on things kept the experience pleasant. You can really sense when a shop owner has an issue with young kids, so when that vibe came up we excused ourselves promptly. No use making anyone upset, including ourselves. We also set a reasonable time limit to the browsing and stopped for a snack before returning to the beach. Kids deserve to have a break and you can't expect them to go a whole day minding themselves - that's not much of vacation at all, is it?
As always, there's just never enough time to see it all. I am so glad we were able to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's a must stop over during a California Coast road trip. Such a classy, scenic little town, right on the oceans doorstep.