Carmel
Overview

Although Paris or Rome may come to mind when planning an amorous adventure, we suggest that for your next trip à deux, you skip international irritations and instead discover a dreamy domestic destination: California’s Carmel. This sultry spot ranked in Travel & Leisure’s top three most romantic cities across the globe, furthering our belief that the West Coast is indeed the warmest coast. Perched atop coastal cliffs, you’ll fall in love all over again under spectacular Pacific sunsets whilst sipping the state’s best bottles. Carmel boasts every weekend-getaway essential, from decadent restaurants to indulgent wineries to white sand beaches, all in a long weekend package.

Should you need a break from affairs of the heart, Carmel offers ample opportunity for deserved “me” time with soothing services at your hotel spa or via swipes of your credit card along trendy Ocean Avenue. While perusing the shops, don’t be surprised if you glimpse a few famous faces, as select celebs escape the Hollywood Hills for cool Carmel around the year. Even these boldface names are drawn by the area’s allure, Natalie Portman so much so that she gave it the ultimate romantic stamp of approval by making it the site of her wedding.

Though Carmel attracts clientele who tend to like a lavish lifestyle, in terms of fashion it’s the capital of casual chic. If you opt to stay in the warm sun of Carmel Valley, think flirty Chloé sundresses, silk separates from Equipment, and suede booties. We encourage your exploration of the Monterey Peninsula at greater length to both experience even more stunning landscapes and to find an excuse to bundle up in cozy Cuccinelli cashmere amidst the California fog. Wherever you stay, buzzy Carmel masterfully captures the charming scenery of the Cali coastline, without the scene of the 90210. Take our advice and grab your special someone for an unbeatable combination of romance, relaxation, revelry, and retail therapy.  Carmel is calling.

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING

To sooth any rosé aftereffects from the prior evening, enjoy a slow morning at Carmel Belle, the perfect spot for a casual breakfast (or lunch, if you hit snooze a few times too many). Stocked with primarily local and organic ingredients, not to mention cold pressed juices from the onsite juice bar, you’ll leave refreshed and rejuvenated for the day ahead. A must visit for lunch is the charming terrace of Nepenthe. Though the menu is not the most extravagant, the setting makes for an avid instagrammer’s paradise, perched on a cliff with spectacular ocean views of the Big Sur coast. Be sure to pop into the whimsical boutique on your way out, perhaps for some new adornment to wear for dinner.  For an elegant evening of award winning gourmet, indulge at Lucia, sampling delicacies á la carte or from elaborate tasting menus paired with fine wines from the famed wine cellar. As we all know, carbs don’t count on vacation, so be sure to treat yourself to the Italian comfort food at the charming Il Tegamino. Pack your purse with a pashmina on a cooler evening, as we assure you that seating on the terrace is worth the wait. Perhaps the most famous dining destination in Carmel is The Restaurant at Mission Ranch, whose bucolic setting is coupled with sweeping views of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the distance. The often-changing menu is best described as elevated farm to table, a perfect opportunity to sport your most elevated ensemble (you never know who you might be seated next to here). Need an excuse to dawn your favorite flirty trend? The contemporary Restaurant 1833 boasts a fun and inventive cocktail list, paired well with creative dishes of fresh, locally sourced seafood, meats, and vegetables.

Read more

Finally, aspiring connoisseurs should not miss one of Carmel’s most unique offerings—the Carmel Wine Walk by the Sea. How it works: purchase a “wine passport” (yes please) at the beginning of your trip for access to any 9 of the 14 tasting rooms along Ocean Avenue ($65 for $90 value). What better way to treat yourself after your “cardio” of boutique hopping?  Added bonus: any tasting room on the walk will offer recommendations for dinner or call to make reservations. 

NIGHTLIFE

Originally started by Clint Eastwood, The Hog’s Breath Inn remains one of Carmel’s most famous and favorite spots for a drink, even after Eastwood retired the joint to its new owner in 1999. Visit the pub to relax, share a drink, and enjoy good company on the outdoor patio. Kick back in some faded jeans, luscious cashmere, and chic booties to fit in perfectly with this 1970’s relic, complete with rustic, lodge-style dark wood, dim lights, and low ceilings. If you’d rather slip into something a little swankier for after hours (perhaps a silk camisole, or a velvet mini-dress), make an appearance at Vesuvio's Starlight Rooftop Lounge for crafty cocktails under the night sky, featuring lantern lights, toasty fire pits, and vibrant music (happy hour is from 4-6!).

Read less
Explore

Explore

Of course, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the gorgeous Carmel scenery that don’t involve food or drink, where you can swap your wedges and heels for Adidas and flip flops instead. Enjoy sun and sand at Asilomar State Beach, one of the richest tide pool habitats in the world and home to a diverse range of sea life. Visiting on a cooler or rainy weekend? Drive over the iconic open-arch Bixby Bridge for sweeping views over the west side of Highway One.  The monumental palace known as Hearst Castle is another “don’t miss” destination. Visitors can choose from 5 different tours of one of the largest and most extravagant private residences ever built (we’re talking 165 rooms).  To borrow InStyle’s term ~Athleisure, there’s no better opportunity to rock your latest Lulu purchases and sneaker-of-the-moment than hiking the forested trails at the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Beyond being able to tone up while on vacay, you’ll be exploring the breathtaking views of what has been called “the crown jewel of the state.” For a more laid back saunter, consider the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, walking distance from Monterey Bay Aquarium and a nice alternative to the touristy Cannery Row

SHOP

Where to Shop

@VacationStyle_
  • @VacationStyle_
Follow US

We’ll echo it again: Ocean Avenue is the #1 locale for Carmel shoppers. If you don’t have a full day to peruse the whole stretch, Carmel Plaza (just off the Avenue) offers the widest range of shops to suit all tastes, from upscale classics to unique hand made boutiques. Many of the stores are pet friendly in case your precious pooch decides to tag along. Also along the Avenue sits Jan DeLuz Linens, offering a French touch to the Cali vibe. This charming shop oozes French culture and elegance with its plethora of graceful décor, apparel and accessories. For one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, peek into Viau’s Estate Jewelry, offering the best and most diverse selection of estate jewelry, sure to incite ooh’s, aah’s, and envy back home. 

Shop the Destination

FRAME Le High Flare Jeans $215.00
Buy Now
Jonathan Simkhai One-shoulder tie-front satin jumpsuit $990.00
Buy Now
Mercedes Salazar X REVOLVE Aretes Fiesta Blue Mandala Earring in Blue & Grey $213.00
Buy Now
Westward Leaning Sphinx 2 Sunglasses $275.00
Buy Now
Caroline Constas Off-the-shoulder Polka-dot Cotton-blend Poplin Top $395.00
Buy Now
Simon Miller Bonsai 15 mini nubuck bucket bag $390.00
Buy Now
Alix Bennet off-the-shoulder stretch-jersey bodysuit $245.00
Buy Now
Khaite Kassandra mid-rise skinny-leg jeans
$290.00
Buy Now
Oscar Tiye Caroline Heel $680.00
Buy Now
Elizabeth and James Harmon Wide Leg Trousers $395.00
Buy Now
Fleur Du Mal Chat Lace Plunge Bodysuit $235.00
Buy Now
M.i.h Jeans Daily frayed mid-rise straight-leg jeans $240.00
Buy Now
Mansur Gavriel Posternak leather tote $895.00
Buy Now
Zoja Aga Earrings $355.00
Buy Now
Saskia Diez Fringe No1 gold-plated necklace $160.00
Buy Now
Adriana Iglesias Jadi silk-satin slip dress $966.00
Buy Now