There is no denying just how large The United States are. Each state is filled with treasures and gems to unlock, but I am pretty partial to my native state of California. Bursting with destinations no matter which part you are in, The California Coast truly is considered “The Gold Coast” for good reason. If you embark on a road trip or some kind of adventure to see The Golden State, the possibilities are endless. But, one piece of advice? Make sure Carmel-by-the-Sea is at the top of your list to see.

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA: AN IDEAL WEEKEND GETAWAY

Ideal for a weekend getaway, Carmel-by-the-Sea is whistling distance from Big Sur, and your mid-stop gateway to either San Francisco Bay or Los Angeles. Massive pine trees and winding roads fill the Monterey Bay and let’s not forget you are where the historic 17 Mile Drive lays. For an itinerary of sights to see and food to eat, read on to discover my picks for the best of the best in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California!

STAY

The only hotel I have ever stayed at is The Hofsas House Hotel. Built in the 1940’s by the Hofsas family, the hotel is now managed by their grand daughter, Carrie Thesis. The Hofsas House is a catch-22 as they make it quite difficult to want to leave the grounds. European-style cottages with fireplaces, patio decks with an ocean view, heated swimming pool and morning breakfast with local pastries, The Hofsas House makes it so you can park your car and not use it again while you are visiting. Which, brings me to my next excursion…

SHOPPING

A quaint, old world village awaits you to eat, sip, and, maybe, shop-til-you-drop. Many shops could rival those on Rodeo Drive with their high-end boutiques and specialty stores while you will also encounter funky, eclectic shops like The White Rabbit – a fully loaded, exclusive Alice in Wonderland haven that will leave any Lewis Carroll fan in awe.

If you are on the lookout to bring home kitchen goodies, you will love The Cheese Shop and Kurtz Culinary. The Cheese Shop has some of the best selection of cheeses in the area, so make sure you block out enough time for the unassuming Kurtz as this shop goes on and on with countless varieties of spices, oils, seasoning, sauces, kitchenware and more. Added perk? They make it hard to leave as pretty much all of their food selection is available to sample.

A Bavarian welcome at The Hofsas House, Carmel-by-the-Sea (c) Mary Lansing-Farah. FWT Magazine.

A Bavarian welcome at The Hofsas House, Carmel-by-the-Sea (c) Mary Lansing-Farah.

WINE

What’s a California destination without wine? With Carmel-by-the-Sea not too far from Napa Valley, you will see many vineyards during your stay, and wineries galore. I am especially partial to Wrath, who have some fantastic chardonnays that manage to hold off on the overpowering creamy notes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a buttery chardonnay, but, have encountered some much too mighty. For some incredible pinot noirs, I love a stop at Caraccioli Cellars on Dolores Street. Dim and intimate, Caraccioli has their vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the ‘it’ spot where you will find most vineyards in the area. Carmel’s climate makes pinots thrive and deliver such smooth, silky notes. I am particularly a fan of their 2012 pinot noir, as I love its tobacco and pepper notes.

To hit up nearly all the wineries in Carmel-by-the-Sea during your visit, I highly recommend their Wine Passport. It never expires which means you can keep it in your glove box for return visits, too!

DINE

Dining is a must in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Each visit, my husband and I make our way to Dametra Cafe for lunch. It’s a lively Greek cafe where you will often find the family-owned restaurant serenading you while you enjoy your meal. As someone who is gluten free, you may just think you have died and gone to heaven when you enter Flaherty’s Seafood Grill. Nearly everything can be prepared gluten free – even calamari, which I had never been able to try. Their weekend brunch is just as tempting. Try the eggs florentine or benedict while you relax in their restaurant and bar.

For a Parisian-style breakfast, I love Lafayette. While I was unable to experience their homemade bread, my husband, who mind you is not one to boast, went on about how fantastic theirs was, as well as their jams. Their coffee was bold, and the perfect fog lifter to my tired, groggy self.

When dinner time rolls around, I vote for The Grill on Ocean. Elegant, with great wine list to boot, The Grill is an exceptional fine dining choice in the heart of the village. Despite its upscale vibe, The Grill is brought down a notch with fun paper tablecloths and crayons at your table!

PLAY

You are just steps from one of the most gorgeous beaches in California when in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Overlooking Pebble Beach, you can play a round of golf at one of the most renowned gold courses in the world. Or perhaps take a drive over the scenic 17 Mile Drive. If you wish to bring Fido along, rest assured that Carmel-by-the-Sea has often been dubbed as one of the most pet-friendly cities in the nation. Many restaurants even offer doggie menus and treats. It’s a kick to see the pooches at the wineries.

And, don’t forget about Big Sur. While they were attacked by recent mud slides, they are in the midst of rebuilding and much of the iconic route is indeed still open for the flocks of visitors to see. Big Sur even has its own village of shops and sights to see, and will gladly welcome you.

So, tell me, what will you do first when you arrive to Carmel-by-the-Sea?!