Girls' Weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Food & Wine
Road Trip Travel
Located just North of one of the most beautiful stretches of California's famous PCH highway, you will find the quaint town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Europe meets California cool in the cobblestone alleyways, fairytale architecture and top-notch dining destinations. It's hard to believe the diversity of the landscape in this region. Within a few miles of each other, you can explore the coastal cliffs, the white sand of Carmel beach and the sun-drenched vineyards of Carmel Valley wine country. Carmel is an excellent choice for a romantic getaway but just as easily makes for the perfect girl's retreat. Spend a weekend with your best gals sipping wine, self-indulging at the spa and soaking up the scenery.
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Where to stay
The Hotel Carmel
Small boutique hotel with warmly decorated rooms and a complimentary wine hour located less than a mile from Carmel Sunset Beach.
Carmel Valley Ranch
This 500-acre stunner is a one-stop playground for golf, farm adventures, spa time and top cuisine, all with epic Santa Lucia Mountains views.
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Daily Full breakfast for two guests per bedroom
One $100 Hotel or Resort credit to be used during stay
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
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Daily breakfast credit of $30 per person, for up to two guests per bedroom
$100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
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Day 1: 17 Mile Drive & Arrive in Carmel
If you're flying into California, you'll likely want to fly into San Francisco (SFO) to begin your trip, or San Jose airport (SJC) if you're looking to get as close to Carmel as possible. You can access Carmel from the PCH (Highway 1) from either the North or South.
Rent a car and drive down to the Monterey Peninsula. The entire area stretching from the peninsula to Big Sur is part of Monterey county, not to be confused with the city of Monterey itself. Stop in Pebble Beach on the way into Carmel for the 17 Mile Drive. Even if you and your group are not golf enthusiasts, this scenic drive through the world-famous course offers gorgeous lookout points of the Pacific Ocean and stops for photo-ops, alongside swoon-worthy mansions.
The end of the 17 Mile Drive lands you perfectly at the entrance to Carmel. You'll likely arrive midday to afternoon, so either stop for lunch in the town at Village Corner for a fresh meal on the patio, or check into your hotel and enjoy happy hour on-site.
After spending the afternoon exploring your hotel and lounging poolside (cocktails in hand recommended), get ready with your crew and head back into town for an upscale dinner at La Bicyclette. This upscale, cozy French-Italian bistro never disappoints. Try the Parisian gnocchi or the steak frites with a pairing from the extensive wine menu.
Day 2: Wine Tasting & Spa Relaxation
Though not as famous as Napa Valley, Carmel Valley's wine region produces some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon made in the county. The scenic narrow valley runs south from Monterey Bay into the Santa Lucia mountains and can be reached from Carmel-by-the-Sea in just ten minutes.
Folktale is a must-see winery in the region with its charming, castle-like chateau and sunny garden restaurant. Book a tasting, or better yet make a reservation for their locally sourced Sunday brunch. A tasting flight is offered with brunch that features their red blend and a solera-style “orange” wine. Be sure to stop in the boutique, Folktale Provisions for the curated table and housewares or a bottle of wine to take home.
Post brunch, head right down the street to Spa Aiyana at The Carmel Valley Ranch for a luxurious girl's afternoon. Even if you are not a guest at the hotel, you can book any treatment at the spa and enjoy access to the spa grounds, salt water pool, infinity hot tub and pool bar for the rest of your day. Try the HydraFacial or the floral mist aromatherapy deep tissue massages and spend the afternoon lounging by the pool until sunset.
After a refresh at your hotel have dinner back in downtown Carmel. For a fancier dinner check out the Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse, or for a more casual vibe, you can't beat Cultura Comida for an authentic Oaxaca-style Mexican meal.
Day 3: Downtown Carmel & Bixby Bridge
Grab lattes to go from the picturesque Carmel Coffee House and take a walk down to the beach. Stop in the local art galleries and small cobblestone garden courtyards along the way to experience the European feel of this area.
If you're visiting in the late summer or early fall, you may want to spend a day on the beach as this is truly a hidden gem in terms of California beaches. However, Carmel has a typically cool climate, so another great way to enjoy it is to stop and sit at the upper elevation for views of the ocean and then continue exploring further down the coastline.
Head to Stationaery for brunch in the courtyard (think heirloom tomato + burrata salad and a Dutch pancake with fresh berries) for your final meal in Carmel. On your drive out, be sure to stop at the iconic Bixby Bridge. The bridge marks the entrance into Big Sur, the rugged central coast and forest that is best explored in a trip taken exclusively to that area for an incredible hike or glamping. Take the infamously winding and scenic Highway 1 South to the bridge to capture some incredible moments and photo-ops with your besties before your drive back up to San Francisco or San Jose.
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