When was the last time you spent a weekend in Carmel?
If it’s been a while, I suggest you make a plan for a little get-away immediately! Why? Carmel, a small, charming, beachside town, is just beautiful and has such different topography from southern California that you really feel like you’ve “gotten away.” Let me show you…
Can we first talk about the drive up? I can only speak to driving up from LA, but if that is the case for you, you are only driving up along the coast – I insist. It offers such a varied and stunning landscape. I took these pictures with my phone while we were driving!
Take Highway 1 and drive right up along the coast. You’ll drive through Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, Cambria and San Simeon. Did we make a pit stop? But of course! When we were near Hearst Castle, we pulled off the highway for lunch (the Hearst Castle exit).
Across the highway from Hearst’s Castle is Sebastian’s Store.
According to hearstranch.com,
A general store opened in the village in 1873 to serve workers in the whaling, mining, dairy and shipping industries. The store, a historical landmark, has remained in operation most of the time since.
It is now a little restaurant and you can do a little wine tasting, too…before, during or after lunch, or all three. 😜
Sebastian’s Store has great burgers and fish tacos, to give you an idea. You can sit outside and look at the ocean while you eat and then look up at Hearst’s castle behind you as you take a little post-lunch stroll.
It is so picturesque. After lunch, we got back on the road, but due to all of the heavy rain (and subsequent mudslides) we weren’t able to continue on Highway 1. Instead, we cut over to the 101 via Highway 46, which was also absolutely gorgeous! I actually opened up my Redfin app to see if anything was for sale along here…it was that captivating! Blue skies, puffy clouds, rolling green hills covered with black cows and baby sheep…glimpses of the ocean…sigh.
We arrived in Carmel mid-afternoon. We stayed in Carmel Valley at Quail Lodge. Hazel had been here once before, as it’s very dog friendly. She got her very first swag bag here a couple of years ago! Needless to say, she loves it.
Our room faced a big pond on the golf course.
Quail Lodge is known for it’s golf course. It is incredibly serene and honestly just breathtaking. Whether or not you play golf.
We had a great porch out front our room so that we could take advantage of the view while also being outside.
After a walk around and some relaxing, it was off to dinner. My husband found a place in the valley that was dog friendly. Hazel loves going out to dinner (or anything that has to do with food)!
We went to a place called The Corkscrew Cafe. The owner, Walter Georis, is the kind of guy that you makes you feel like a slacker. Big Time.
Walter Georis was born in Belgium. His family moved to the US when he was eleven. He took up sketching, then guitar and while playing his guitar at a surf fair in Long Beach, Ca., Bruce Brown, a documentary film director, heard him play and hired him to create the soundtrack for The Endless Summer.
The Endless Summer, people!
After that, he began painting, then designing dresses. Next he opened a clothing store. In 1969, he moved to Carmel and opened a photography studio. (Do you feel like a slacker yet? I DO!) By now, he had shifted his focus from dresses to shoes and purses and was selling to Macy’s. He went to a trade show and saw the Birkenstock booth. He bought some of these ‘orthopedic’ shoes in bright yellow, dyed them brown, then sold them. They went like hotcakes. Karl Birkenstock noticed what Georis had done and asked if he’d handle the marketing for Birkenstock. Georis then opened a Birkenstock shop in Carmel and produced new designs. As you might imagine, it was a total success.
In 1977, he purchased an old wooden house (without a foundation!) in Carmel Village. The house had belonged to Aunt Fairy Bird, Charlie Chaplin’s cook, for over 50 years. Can you believe it?! He turned what was basically a little shack into a restaurant, which is now Casanova. Today, Casanova is a landmark restaurant in Carmel Village. Their 14’ wine cellar was dug by hand. There are over 35,000 bottles of wine in there…some part of a collection that Georis started when he was in High School! Were you starting a fine wine collection in High School? Cough cough…I know I wasn’t.
A few years later, Georis traded his Carmel home for 40 acres of ranch land near where the The Corkscrew Café is, in Carmel Valley. He planted a vineyard and is now producing 5,000 to 6,000 cases a year of Merlot, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. He opened The Corkscrew Café and a winery across the street. I hear he just finished a documentary, too. Like I said…makes you feel like a slacker.
Our meal at The Corkscrew Cafe was delicious. We sat outside with Hazel and started with the charcuterie plate, which was no joke. Incredibly well put together with really fresh ingredients.
We ended up sharing a few things after that, one of which was the Burrata, Farm Egg, Pancetta, White Wine, and Garlic pizza…made in their very own pizza oven. Heaven. And the bread….
The Corkscrew was delicious and charming. The Georis wine was fantastic as was the service.
The next day, we took Hazel to the beach. OMG…she was in heaven. The joy that emanated from this little creature was really touching.
Carmel Beach is dog friendly, pristine, and mesmerizing. The dog owners are responsible and the dogs are friendly.
What a treat to start our weekend mornings with a walk along the beach. Priceless.
Hazel had the time of her life here.
After a lovely morning on the beach, we headed into Carmel Village. I’ve been coming here all my life and our family had a place here for years, so it’s nice to see what hasn’t changed and visit some old haunts. You could throw a rock, stone or pebble and it would land on something adorable….or at the minimum, something really nice to look at.
Uh-Oh! Time for a snack. One of our usual stops is the Cypress Inn. Have you been there? It’s an absolutely charming, mediterranean style hotel, dating back to 1929. It is 100% dog-friendly (dogs are allowed everywhere on premises) and it’s co-owned by Doris Day, who you surely know as a iconic movie star and very talented singer, but did you know she is also an animal activist?
We got a spot on the outside patio, right in front of the fire place. Hazel was ready for a nap anyway, and we were ready for a Bloody Mary!
We were at the end of our little walking tour of the village and headed over to another all time favorite, Mission Ranch. The Ranch was originally 160 acres. In the 1850’s, it was a dairy. What is now the restaurant used to be the creamery.
You may have heard of its famous owner…Clint Eastwood. He bought the ranch in 1986. It was in a severe state of disprepair and he renovated it with tremendous care and attention. He went to the trouble of replicating details like moldings, doorframes and hardware so that it would match the original style of the buildings. The buildings are surrounded by enduring eucalyptus and cypress trees. The meadow and the sheep that roam upon it are part of the ranch.
We usually come for dinner, but never get to see the Scottish Black Face sheep. Plus, no dogs allowed. So we finally got to see the sheep, but had to skip dinner.
It is also a beautiful place to stay. Cozy rooms with stunning views all the way round. And close to Carmel Village. And a great restaurant on site!
They have serve a perfect martini, delicious blue cheese wedge and prime rib. A super menu.
After our visit and the sheep-sighting, we headed over to The Mission (Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, to be exact.) You probably haven’t been to a mission since grade school…amiright? 😂
After a rest, it was time for dinner. Tomas had also booked dinner for Saturday night and unbeknownst to him at the time of booking, his choice for Saturday night, Casanova, is owned by the same accomplished fellow that owns The Corkscrew Cafe! We had no idea. Both are dog friendly, which was a big reason why we chose it. It is also a very special place.
Hazel, as usual, was a perfect angel during dinner. She always cleans up under the table, without even being asked. There was another dog on the patio…and he tried to bite the waiter! Hazel was horrified and wanted nothing to do with him.
I had the rack of lamb and Tomas had osso buco. Both were absolutely delicious and prepared perfectly.
And there it comes…Sunday morning. Time to head back. Before departing, we went across the street (from Quail Lodge) to a favorite breakfast spot, The Wagon Wheel.
I’ve been coming here forever. At least 30 years…which is longer? 😉
This place has been around for a long time and changed ownership over the years, but the coziness of the place and deliciousness of the food has not changed one bit. They have eggs all sorts of ways: omelettes, benedicts, pancakes, waffles, french toast….your basic dream breakfast selection.
Across the way from The Wagon Wheel is one of my all time most favorite shops period end of story. Tancredi and Morgen.
When I am rich or dreaming or both, nearly everything in my life is from this shop. They have incredible “hand-sourced” treasures from all over the world. An incredible design eye.
They were closed for renovations when we were there, so I wasn’t able to get any photos of the inside, which would knock your knickers off, but you can see great photos here. They have a unique collection of fabrics, soaps, linens, pillows, pottery and ceramics, lighting, paper goods, sachets, books, clothing, jewelry, baskets, glass and flatware, furniture and antiques. Everything to make your life just perfect! 😇
And home we headed. Hazel in the back seat, all safe and snuggled up. We decided to take the scenic route back to the 101 (Carmel Valley Road). Also a stunner…incredibly varied landscape.
It was nice to take the long way home…at least at the beginning, before hopping on the highway. The road is not in a great state, so aside from wanting to drive at a regulated pace so that we could enjoy the scenery, we actually had to.
But wait! Before you start boo-hooing (as we were) that our heavenly weekend in Carmel had come to an end, I have one last little delight to sweeten things a bit. A lunch stop in Los Alamos. I’ll be talking a lot about Los Alamos in a post on Santa Ynez at the end of February, but for now, all you really need to know is that it is a tiny eensy little town just northwest of Santa Barbara. We stopped at one of our most favorito places for lunch, Bell Street Farm.
HUBBA HUBBA! Looky what we had for lunch!
Does one really ever tire of charcuterie? Not this girl. No ma’am! Stopping in Los Alamos for lunch was like a mini vacation inside of a vacation. Fantastic. And as usual, Hazel was perfectly behaved under the table. Because did I mention that not only is this place Pet Friendly, but it’s…
and that means that Hazel ate inside with us (or at least sat with us while we ate).
A beautiful, relaxing, easy, serene and delicious getaway. I urge you to plan a trip to Carmel anytime…it is beautiful all year long. There is a lot to do and hopefully this blog post put a bee in your bonnet!