During my trip to Italy last week I was able to spend a few days in Italy’s Lake Como region. While I was enjoying the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounded the hillside villages, I was reminded of a similar town that is much closer to home. So, today, I’m dreaming about Carmel By the Sea in California. Like those Italian villages, Carmel is perched on the slope of a seaside mountain on the Monterey Peninsula and runs down to a pristine beach. Unlike Lake Como, Carmel is easily reached by car and is only a few hours drive from San Francisco along the well-traveled Pacific Coast Highway. Carmel’s beauty is dreamlike with its storybook downtown of flower filled courtyards and stone paved passageways surrounded by the natural beauty of a Coastal forest and an ocean that teams with seals, dolphins, whales and seabirds.
A dog’s life
The town of Carmel takes pride in being very “dog friendly” and on a nice day the four-legged citizens are on display. Get a coffee and pastry and grab a bench along Ocean Avenue to try for a little puppy love. It’s always a great way to start the day.
Feel the pull of the Sea
In nearby Monterey board one of the many vessels that belong to Monterey Bay Whale Watch. October is the end of the season where Blue Whales can be found along the coast. Don’t miss an opportunity to see an example of the largest animal on the planet swimming in its natural environment. Even if you missed a mighty Blue, the Monterey Bay is home to Orcas, Gray Whales and other wondrous marine mammals.
Enjoy a Coastal Forest
This area is known for being one of the remaining few Monterey Cypress groves in the world. Be intoxicated by their woody scent perfuming the air with a hike along the North Shore Trail that wanders through the pine and cypress forests and allows for spectacular views while hiking from ocean vista to ocean vista.
Check your credit card spending ability
With Carmel being a hot spot for celebrities and Oprah, you just know you’re in trouble. Shopping in Carmel is all about the discovery. With no numbered address it’s just a matter of wandering in a laid back manner to wherever you please (How Californian!). The town itself is just about a square mile but can easily fill a whole day. Take your time and stumble upon what will become your favorite shops.
You can travel for two years all over Europe collecting beautiful glassware, pottery and linens or you can just go here for a few hours. Their selection is that good and they won’t know when you lie to your friends telling them you bought that beautiful serving tray in a little village somewhere in Italy.
If you didn’t know already- hats are back in and with over 400 hats and the attitude that you should come in and have a good time trying them on, the Hat shop is a must stop. One thing they pride themselves on is not charging Carmel prices. Hat’s for all!
They play golf there don’t they?
The town is known to many as being the location of the world famous Pebble Beach golf course the good news is it’s open to the public, the bad news is if you’re not a resort guest it may be tough to get a tee time, the good news at $495 a pop you couldn’t afford it anyway.
I’m not a Golfer but I’m an eater!
Since this trip was inspired by my visit to Lake Como let’s end the day celebrating “la dolce vita” with a meal inspired by the food of Northern Italy. Peppoli’s is located at the golf resort perched on a bluff and it’s menu offers mouth watering dishes like Wild Boar Ragu and House made hot Italian sausage. Make sure you tuck your napkin in your collar; the view is so distractingly beautiful it may be a challenging getting the fork in your mouth every time.
What are your favorite things to do in Carmel or Monterey?