Carmel-by-the-Sea: Travel Guide for California’s Seaside Dream

You’ve probably never even heard of it, but a couple months ago I ventured to a little seaside town in California called Carmel-by-the-Sea. It was actually recommended by my mother (yep, the one who HATES traveling) as a peaceful place to get some R&R. So my friend/co-worker/fellow world traveler decided to take a short adventure to Carmel before making our way to Napa later on that week.

How Do I Get There?

I’m so glad you asked! Anna and I both flew into SFO and rented a car. The drive takes about 1.5 hours down the 101 and is both terrifying and freaking amazing. There’s also a nearby airport – Monterey Regional Airport – that’s super close but probably super expensive (didn’t look much into it because we #ballinonabudget).

What Should I Do?

The 17 Mile Drive

Nestled in the historic neighborhood that’s home to Pebble Beach (it’s an amazing golf course for those of you who are like “WTH is that?”), this is probably Carmel’s #1 tourist attraction. However, it is completely valid and worth your money because it’s absolutely stunning! About every mile, there is a scenic overlook into something that is pretty much freaking amazing. Please see below for details of what you can look forward to!




Big Sur

One of my favorite parts of the trip was driving down the PCH because there is no better way to take in the West Coast. There are a ton of lookout points on the drive to Big Sur National Park, but my fave was over the Bixby State Bridge (below).

Downtown Carmel

There are tons of shops, coffee shops, more shops, more coffee shops, and food downtown that are fun to explore. Pretty much everything in town is there, so I recommend finding a place that’s close enough to walk or just a short drive away. We stayed at an Airbnb in Carmel Woods (about a mile from downtown).


Where Should I Eat?

La Bicyclette

If you want breakfast and a bomb latte, look no further. For real, we ate here TWICE. I had the bohemian breakfast and THE BEST FREAKING FRENCH TOAST OF MY LIFE. No joke. And your girl loves her breakfast food. This cafe is definitely a must for your trip to Carmel. True story – Anna joked at work last week that, “a trip to Carmel is worth it just for the food at La Bicyclette”. This is cafe is no laughing matter, people!



It was our token fancy dinner spot…and we ended up just splitting a bunch of stuff (including Mac n’ Cheese) with some killer cocktails (definitely try the Blackberry Brut Margarita). Classic. If you are looking for a ~*~romantic~*~ date night spot, this would be your best bet.

The Cheese Shop

Anna and I sort of stumbled upon this on our unintended search for Anthropologie (:)), but we LOVED this local shop. The cheese was plentiful and the wine was a heck of a deal. If we weren’t headed to Napa after, we would have taken a couple bottles home! If you decided to stop in, try their three wine tasting and a “chunk of cheese” for $15.95.



If you aren’t planning on camping in Big Sur but still want to have an adventure (#neature), I recommend hiking to Nepenthe. Despite that our hike was a little longer than anticipated (real talk, I was wearing my Spanx Faux Leather Leggings and Adidas…aka not prepared), the views were worth it.

We may have been the youngest people in the town, but we still loved our time in Carmel. What are some of your favorite places on the California coast?




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