Another day has dawned, and you are lucky enough to still be in Carmel. What’s on the agenda for today?
Waking up with a world full of energy and optimism, you want to head out for an early breakfast. Depending on how early you want to start, you may have to improvise. But if you can wait until 7am (or later), you can embark on a short journey toward Em Le’s Old Carmel Restaurant. This storybook charmer is part of Pantiles Court on Dolores between 5th and 6th Streets. The restaurant began in 1955 as a chocolate shop, but eventually came around to being a full service restaurant. Also a “locals” favorite, the breakfasts are plentiful and wonderful. We could have spent all day there enjoying the food and the atmosphere. As a bonus, the walls are covered in photos of the town and surroundings in the early years.
Serious exploration time! Just a quick jaunt down Highway 1 (yes, you will need your car for this one) is Point Lobos. The Point Lobos Natural Reserve is not only a breathtaking series of pathways along the ocean, but a wonder of trails through cypress trees, pine forests and wildflowers. When a storm comes in, the winds can be quite strong, so be sure to bring along a sweatshirt (or something like it) just in case. Entry into the park is $10 per vehicle, and it’s well-worth the admission fee. Most of the trails are well marked, and even terrain. Some of the trails do involve stairs and can involve some scrambling over rocks, if you are adventurous. Trail maps are available at the main information stand. There are docent-led walks most days, often in the morning, should you want additional information on the wildlife, the birds, and the history of the park.
After all that walking, climbing and adventuring, it’s time to head back into town to try another of their more than 50 restaurants. This time, it’s Carmel’s Bistro Giovanni. The bistro is just a couple of blocks from Hofsas House and is located on San Carlos Street. They describe the cuisine as California-American-Mediterranean. I enjoyed not only their flatbread pizza (a single order is 8 pieces, so feel free to order one and share), but also the colorful murals of Italy on the walls. It is a comfortable spot to relax and review your plans for the rest of the day.
2:00pm: Wine Tasting
Although you’ve tried two spots the day before, give the place with the reputation for sparkling wines a go, and set off for Caraccioli Cellars on Dolores Street (close to Ocean Avenue). The people working the tasting room are full of information about life in Carmel, as well as the wines. On our trip, we tasted a combination of their Cuvee wines and capped it off with a Pinot Noir.
5:00pm 17-Mile Drive
Before you know it, it’s time to change for dinner. Consider combining a trip up the famous 17-mile drive and bailing out in Pacific Grove just in time for a sunset dinner. The scenic drive takes you through the private areas of Carmel along places like Pebble Beach, past the Lone Cypress Tree, beyond Bird Rock and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Give yourself enough time prior to your dinner reservation to enjoy the trip and the stops along the way. You can pick up the drive at the gate off of San Antonio, and drop off of the drive at Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove. There is a per car fee at the gate, but if you spend $30 or more at any of the shops or restaurants in the area, they will refund the fee.
Finding yourself in Pacific Grove means you have the opportunity to try out the Beach House at Lovers Point. Right on the water, you would be hard-pressed to find a more scenic dining spot. They have a heated patio that allows you to take in the entire bay and shoreline. It’s a casual dining place with a very comfortable vibe. If you can swing it with your schedule, try to get in for their Sunset Specials. Arrive at 5:30 and order by 6:00pm, and there are special prices (under $10) for their standard-size entrees. There are also special prices on drinks. So, not only will you get a chance to enjoy the rosy glow of the sun setting, but you’ll have your own rosy glow of getting to enjoy it all for a very-budget friendly price. While I really enjoyed my Rigatoni with Basil Cream dish, I must admit that I’m very curious about the Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf. If you go, please order that and then make me jealous!
Did you miss my recommendations for Day 1? Click here!