Next to Tahoe, Carmel and Monterey are my favorite places. In fact, I’ve already told my family that I’ll be retiring there one day. Along with beautiful ocean days, mysterious fog, mild weather, amazing wildlife and friendly locals, it’s also home to my brother and his wife and her extended family.
“We decided to be true tourists and drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur stopping to take pictures and gawk at the awe-inspiring vistas.”
I try to visit at least a few times each year, and last spring I needed an escape and headed to the warm, spring days of the coast with my cousin, Nicole Elder. Our first night, we stayed at the newly remodeled Vendange Carmel with wine-themed rooms designed in concert with local wineries. After our drive, we decided to take a walk and use our Carmel Wine Walk passes, a self-guided tour of 14 tasting rooms in Carmel. After a pre-dinner tasting at De Tierra, we headed north toward Salinas to try some place new that came highly recommended – Tarpy’s Roadhouse. And, we were not disappointed with stellar service, amazing food including one of my favorite appetizers – fried kale – and decadent desserts. We left pleasantly stuffed.
I took Nicole to one of my favorite breakfast spots the next morning with the hands-down best lattes that I’ve ever had – Carmel Belle. I had my usual – the hot polenta with truffled mushrooms and goat cheese, a large latte and the 2-inch think house cinnamon toast. We spent our day walking through Carmel, indulged in some more wine tasting in the afternoon with a stop at Lula’s Chocolates, and then visited the Carmel Mission.
Every time I go to Carmel and Monterey, I try to explore something different. The San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission was founded in 1771. The breathtaking Basilica Church is a National Historic Landmark and the surrounding museums with artifacts and works of art offer a glimpse into the 18th Century. Afterwards, we decided to be true tourists and drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur stopping to take pictures and gawk at the awe-inspiring vistas before heading back to Carmel to stay at my favorite hotel – Hofsas House.
The family owned Hofsas House is full of charm and personality with ocean views, friendly staff (especially owner and manager Carrie Theis who always makes me feel at home) and, of course, the welcoming mural by artist Maxine Albro. The next day, we were up early for a tour of Point Sur Lighthouse, but that’s a story for another time.