Carmel by the Sea

Long weekends are perfect for road trips, good food and relaxing at the beach. Little did we know when we booked our long weekend trip to Carmel that we would also be moving into our new apartment the day before we left… but despite the craziness of the move, we still managed to destress and have the best time!

Carmel by the Sea is just an hour and a half away from where we live, making it an easy day trip destination. With the extra day off work, however, we thought it would be fun to book a little weekend getaway to this little coastal town. A road trip on Highway 1 (“Pacific Highway”) is on our bucket list so we decided to knock out a small portion of of it by starting in San Francisco and driving down the coast to Carmel. As you can see from the map below, there is still so much more to cover, both North and South!


Knowing we’d be in the car for a couple hours, we left early Friday morning and drove to San Francisco to start our day with a 3.5 mile urban hike at Land’s End. You would never know you’re in the city with the beautiful trail that you’re walking on! It was the perfect way to work up an appetite and get a little exercise in. The views of the sunrise, Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean were incredible!

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We stopped for breakfast at Zazie and without hesitation asked for iced coffees and their famous cream cheese coffee cake. It’s famous for a reason! Mo ordered their banana walnut stuffed French toast and I chose scrambled eggs with roasted veggies and a side salad. Perfect road trip fuel.

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After finishing breakfast, we hit the road and drove south on the Pacific Highway, passing through Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, enjoying the scenic views. We arrived in Carmel early afternoon and checked in at our B&B, The Hideaway. We loved its location, the large outdoor patio, and the complimentary daily wine and cheese happy hour, which was a perfect place and way to relax.

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I had absolutely no idea how cute Carmel was, but I think I must have told Mo a hundred times how much I loved it. It is a very dog-friendly town so don’t leave your pooch behind! There are so many little shops to wander in – everything from homemade fudge to an Alice in Wonderland themed store. The buildings have unique character and there are beautiful secret flower-filled alleys. If you’re lucky, you might even find a coffee shop in one.

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I did have a couple of runs to get in during the weekend so I happily took advantage of Scenic Road and the 17 mile drive as my routes. Both were very hilly, but the scenery was worth it! It was abnormally hot the weekend we were there – Carmel is typically in the 70’s during the day, but it hit mid-90’s. It was nothing compared to Sunnyvale, where the temperature reached 107º! After getting my runs in early to avoid the heat, we walked down to the beach to cool off.

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One of my favorite parts of our trip was the kayak tour we did in Monterey. During the two hours that we were out on the water, we saw harbor seals, sea lions, jellyfish, otters, starfish and neon sea anemones. It was so fun to see the animals up close! Afterwards, we stopped for lunch at Sandbar and Grill on the pier for grilled fish tacos and shrimp and chips. Possibly the best meal of the weekend!

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The other activity that was highly recommended was the 17 mile drive. For $10/car, you can take a drive through beautiful cypress forests, visit historic landmarks, pull over for scenic views of the coast, listen to sea lions and watch them climb up cliffs, walk around the Pebble Beach golf course and enjoy the salty breeze. Sydney loved that ocean air!

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Last but not least… FOOD. We ate so much fresh and delicious food this weekend. Here’s a little secret if you want to go on vacation and not gain weight – go somewhere HOT with no air conditioning in the town! All I wanted was ice water, salads and acai bowls. Ice cream might have happened once or twice too… In all seriousness, I think the most important thing to remember is to enjoy a couple treats while you’re on vacation, eat fresh, high-quality foods, be mindful of when you’re full, stay hydrated and be active! No need to overthink things – you can enjoy yourself on vacation AND come back not feeling like a blimp!

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I am already wishing we were back in Carmel, but it won’t be long before we take a day trip back!

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Where to eat:

  • Basil Seasonal Dining – dinner
  • Casanova – dinner
  • Dametra’s Cafe – dinner
  • Carmel Coffee and Cocoa Bar – cafe lunch
  • Sandbar and Grill (Monterey) – lunch
  • The Carmel Coffee House – coffee and pastries
  • Carmel Bakery – ice cream and desserts

What to do:

  • Walk/run on Scenic Drive
  • 17 mile drive
  • Sample fudge at The Cottage of Sweets and buy a dark chocolate almond turtle. You won’t regret it.
  • Monterey Bay Kayak tour
  • Wine tastings – sadly, we didn’t get a chance to this time!
  • Go to the beach… and maybe even get a workout in! (dog not required, but highly recommended)


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