(Check out the 1st leg of our California Vacation: Los Angeles- here)
We woke up early & grabbed some food from the continental breakfast at our hotel in LA before hitting the road to try and avoid rush hour traffic. It took about an hour to simply get out of the city but before long we were passing Malibu & Santa Barbara and taking in some great views on route 1. We eventual lost sight of the ocean and passed through farm country and cute little towns. The strawberry fields seemed to go on forever.
Tip** For those of you taking the famous coast drive from LA to Carmel; I suggest taking the route 101 (route 1 and 101 join for a while but split off randomly) way after you pass Malibu until Pismo. Take a little breather/lunch break in Pismo THEN get back on Route 1 versus 101; which follows the ocean. After Malibu Route 1 takes you along the coast or you can go Route 101. It will cut out an hour or two if you bite the bullet and head on Route 101 to Pismo Beach. After Pismo beach head back on route 1 for some of those postcard views and some nice secluded beach stops along the way. It doesn’t seem long mileage wise, but because of the way the road is made it takes much longer than expected to drive. There is also zero cell phone service on many parts of the drive and gas stations are rare. In a nutshell make sure you are gassed up and know where you are going. **
We arrived in Carmel around 7pm. Man, was that a long drive but oh so fun and extremely memorable. We checked into our adorable hotel and freshened up for dinner. All of the buildings in Carmel are designed to look like European cottages and need to follow a specific design code. Even our Comfort Inn hotel lacked a commercial feel and felt like we stepped back in time. After freshening up we headed to the Hog’s Breath Inn for dinner; which was owned (up until about a year ago) by Carmel’s previous Mayor; Clint Eastwood! I was blown away by how amazing the outside area was. Nestled in between the Tavern and Restaurant buildings was a beautiful stoned patio area with a bunch intricate fireplaces; huge mature trees were around with lights wrapped around its branches to add an extra romantic touch. For an appetizer we ordered the Ahi Tuna Poke w/ edamame, cucumber, avocado, scallions, crispy wontons & wasabi ginger vinaigrette. For our main dishes I ordered the Dirty Harry: Sirloin w/ mushrooms, whole grain mustard sauce, asparagus and mashed potatoes. (I loved!) Wade ordered the Salmon w/ potato gnocchi, sugar snap peas, tomato & miso-corn coulis. Both entrees were delicious. We stayed and hung out for bit by the relaxing fire before calling it an early night. I could have stayed there all night long.
The next morning, we snagged a table right next to the fireplace and ate breakfast at the hotel. We decided to explore the side streets of Carmel a bit and grabbed a cup of coffee from Carmel Bakery. I could look at these cute cottages with pristine landscaping all day. Before heading back to our room to get ready to head to Pebble Beach, we checked out the local Farmer’s market which had set up shop nearby. The peaches looked amazing so we grabbed a few to snack on.
For lunch we headed to Dametra Cafe; a Greek restaurant, back in Carmel Village. We started off with Spanakopita (Phyilo dough stuffed with feta & spinach) which was phenomenal. For our entrees; we both ordered the grilled chicken Greek salad. At one point the chef came into the dining room and started to sing to us in Greek. For dessert, we were brought out complimentary Baklava (Pylio dough with honey& nuts) which was a great surprise.
We were sad to leave Carmel the next morning but super excited to visit Yosemite National Park the next day for our 3rd leg of our California vacation! (and our favorite place of the trip)