Last week I spent the entire time vacationing with my family in Carmel By The Sea. I had been inspired by this blog and the gorgeous storybook homes featured there and thought it was time to visit the northern half of my state. Plus there was no flying involved, which was a bonus. I am not a great flyer. So last Monday we packed up the minivan and drove on up.
(I created a short video with some great footage of my trip which you can see HERE)
We stayed at a gorgeous hotel, La Playa Carmel, that had once been a mansion owned by an heiress to the Ghirardelli family.
I picked it because it was within walking distance to the main street in Carmel, plus it had stunning gardens.
Ariella loved playing with the oversized chess pieces and all of my kids had fun swimming in the pool during the afternoons.
Some families like to squeeze as much as possible out of their vacations, but my family takes a much more leisurely approach. Mornings are spent sightseeing and being tourists and then we like to relax at the hotel in the afternoons. Dinner is usually eaten out at a local restaurant.
Day 1: Monterey
We started the day with the world famous 17 Mile Drive. I was a lovely ramble around Pebble Beach and the views were breathtaking. My favorite sights were of the trees, but most people are enamored with the beach.
You can see why.
The drive ends in Monterey which is where we went on our next adventure.
My oldest son, Mason is turning 13 next year and we have already started the preplanning of his Bar Mitzvah. At the moment he wants the theme to be “Under The Sea” so we figured a trip to what is considered to be one of the premier aquariums in the world was in store. I didn’t get a lot of photographs, but I did get some amazing video which can be seen here. If you come up to Monterey I highly recommend the aquarium. It was a feast for the eyes and enthralled folks of all ages, not just kids.
Day 2: Big Sur
Big Sur is a stretch of beach in Northern California that is known for its beauty. We started on the north end and drove south. The first place we went to was Point Lobos, a state reserve. There are many easy hikes you can take around the reserve which are acceptable for most people.
Ella got a bit tired from all the walking but my sons really enjoyed being out in nature and climbing all over. Notice the earbuds in my eldest son’s ears? They were there the entire trip. *Sigh.
My favorite part was the seals. Aren’t they cute? So fat, so lazy.
Day 3: Carmel By The Sea
Day three was spent touring the Carmel Mission. For those of you not up to date on your California history, Spanish priests set up a trail of missions along the coast of California to spread Christianity to the local Indians. They are a pretty interesting tourist attraction and all California students learn about them in the 4th grade. It turns out my middle child, Toby is entering 4th grade and this was the perfect opportunity to check out a mission before school started.
The Carmel Mission is one of the prettier ones and I really enjoyed going through it. The gardens were glorious and check out this crazy huge tree:
The video footage I got of the church and gardens are better than my photos, which you can see here.
Unfortunately Ella was having none of it. All she wanted to do was go back to the aquarium! We ended up having to cut our visiting time short and ended up back at the hotel pool.
Carmel By The Sea is a gorgeous little enclave and I quite enjoyed my time there. It reminded me a lot of Italy which is probably why there were so many Italian tourists there. I didn’t get to do much in the way of shopping but that’s ok! I still had a wonderful time.
I would rate Carmel a 7 on the toddler scale. Ella loved the aquarium and Big Sur, but not so much on the mission or shopping. I would rate it an 8.2 for having older kids. There was a lot more for them to do and they have a much easier time behaving in the fancier restaurants. If you don’t have kids then I would give it a 9.3 for adults. The location is extraordinarily beautiful, the food was excellent, and there is plenty to do without feeling like to have to rush around to see everything.
Have you ever been to Carmel? If so, what did you think? Did I miss anything important?