I cannot believe how behind I have been in posting updates and photos! What a whirlwind year it has been. We’re slowly venturing back into the world and now with a toddler in tow, things can get a bit crazy. Nevertheless we had a great 48 hour weekend in Carmel a few months ago and were able to feel like things were a bit normal again.
We’ve always been the kind of travelers that plan a trip around hikes and meals but now we’ve added playgrounds and possible wildlife sightings to that list so if those final two categories resonate with you, stay tuned after the jump because our are of coverage has indeed expanded.
It was hard to break up our trip into things you should do in a specific order so instead we rounded up some of our favorites in no order at all. One of our favorite ways to travel is bookmarking places we’d like to see on Foursquare or in a Google Doc and see what we might be near that also happens to be open. We especially like to see things before the crowds set in when we can which usually means an early morning wake up time. This no-crowd hope does not apply to animals who also enjoy coming out when few people are on the trail.
We love to stay closer to the Carmel Highlands and come into town during the day. Our absolute favorite place to stay is the Tickle Pink Inn. We look for times where there might be good discounts or off-season pricing since it can be a tad expensive at times. They have an incredible happy hour and the inn itself is in a quiet area with staggering views.
- When in Carmel-by-the-Sea, pick a beach, any beach. We wound up at Monastery Beach which worked perfectly for our toddler because it was more of a pebble beach than a sand beach. This helped us avoid the dreaded sandy car clean, especially when we weren’t headed straight home. There is a steep drop off and some pretty strong undertows so our internet research let us know if we were planning on swimming this wouldn’t have been our beach choice. That being said, parking here is wonderful, just off the road and easy to have a mess-free day without huge crowds.
- Slide through the Dennis the Menace Park! As you might have guessed this park was established in partnership with Hank Ketcham, the creator of the Dennis the Menace comic strip. Not only does it have very cool structures, there is an authentic 1924 Southern Pacific steam engine right outside the gates. You don’t have to be a fan of Dennis the Menace to appreciate how unique and cool this park is. There are more options for older kiddos but the experience is fun itself. This stop is in Monterrey so if you have a lunch place in mind nearby, I’d highly recommend weaving this activity into that itinerary.
- Hike Point Lobos. We never miss an opportunity to do a quick hike at Point Lobos, we have never been disappointed and haven’t done the same trail twice. When possible we’ll mix a quick lookout and a longer hike so that we can pivot away from big crowds if we need to. Since Ben was carrying a toddler in a harness this time we picked a loop trail as opposed to an out and back and tried to keep it pretty low in elevation while still getting some nice views and deer spotting in. If you’d like to do the same loop, we trekked the North Shore Trail.
- Lunch from Happy Girl Kitchen: We could do not possibly rave more about Happy Girl Kitchen, we wish we had longer so we could have gone back more than once. One side of the cafe/jam kitchen is filled with jams and the other is a service counter where you can get lunch to stay or to go. A truly good way to experience cannery row by visiting a business that still cans its own goods. We were big fans of the avocado toast, laden with sprouts, and the mini cheesecakes.
The Stroll in Town
Visit the Carmel-by-the-Sea Mural. Yes, it is a picture op but it also doubles as a perfect pit stop on the way to Devendorf Park which is just across the street.
- Stop by Rise + Roam: While Rise + Roam does have a nice outdoor patio (in addition to indoor dining options), we headed to Devendorf Park and ate our pastries to go so we could walk around town. There were great gluten free options, I had a gingery and carroty gluten free muffin. The high and low of the experience was our toddler experiencing his first frittata and then screaming “more tattas” all around town for the remainder of the trip. Before you ask, yes, we did return the next morning for more tattas.
- Checkout the Carmel-by-the-Sea Fairytale Cottages: If you don’t make it to these cottages, there are also a few cottages in downtown Carmel that are fun to peek into. If you’re in town and don’t want to wander through side streets, the Tuck Box is an easy stop with snacks to boot.
- Cottage of Sweets: Speaking of cottages, we love stopping by the cottage of sweets when we’re in town. Learn from my mistakes and don’t be tempted to try the mint and hoisin truffle. You are very welcome. All the fudge is delicious so if I can have any influence on your purchasing, this is my pitch 👆🏻.