Road Trip to Central California, Carmel-by-the-Sea | @CarmelBTSea #CarmelBTSea #VisitCarmel

This is a post written by me for
Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hofsas House. All opinions are my own

One extended weekend in October
we took a road trip to the Central Coast of California. It’s about a 5.5 hour
drive from Orange County, and it has been on our bucket list for a long time. We love scenic drives, and driving up the central coast was like nothing we have seen before. There are miles and miles of beautiful rocky cliffs and
gorgeous tide pools great for exploration, biking, and hiking.

Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a unique
self-guided walking wine tasting tour which includes vouchers to 9 of the 14
tasting rooms all within the 1×1 square mile. You’ll be able to sample local
estate-grown still and sparkling wines. Passports are available for purchase at
the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. (We got ours at our hotel).
Note: The Passport does not expire and you can use it over several days, weeks,
or months. For more information, please visit their website at

TIP: Also check their calendar for local events. While we were there, they were hosting their 54th Sand Castle Competition on Carmel Beach.

Drive at Pebble Beach
Take a scenic drive along
the dramatic Pacific Coastline and through Del Monte Forest. Here you will also
find the infamous Lone Cypress Tree. Note: There is a park fee that they will
waive if you dine or shop within Pebble Beach. Just show your parking receipt
to the merchant. (No entry fee for cyclists).
Sur Coast Drive
One of our favorite
things to do on this road trip was drive along Big Sur Coast. The views are
spectacular, amazing, and breathtaking. Our kids’ reactions varied, but we plan to do this every few years and make it a
TIP: We recommend doing
this as part of your drive on your way in so you’re not backtracking. Allow a
full day as you’ll be stopping often to walk around and take pictures. Bring
binoculars! (You might see sea lions, dolphins, and whales.) We’ve highlighted some
spots, however, there are several others to explore.

McWay Falls (Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park)

Rocky Point (There is also a restaurant. More info below.)

Point Lobos

Named in honor of John
Steinbeck, the historic Cannery Row offers attractions, recreation, dining,
shopping, and nightlife.
3080 Rio Road
Carmel, CA
(831) 624-1271
Built in 1771, the
Basilica showcases the architecture of early California. The tomb of its
founder, Father Junipero Serra, is displayed and preserved in their original
décor and artifacts.
The Menace Park
Located by El Estero
Lake. This park is designed by
Cartoonist, Hank Ketchum, who lived in Pebble Beach. Free admission.
Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA
(831) 648-4888
The aquarium’s
award-winning Splash Zone exhibit (much like a children’s museum) includes
three ocean habitats: the Enchanted Kelp Forest, Coral Reef Kingdom, and Rugged
Rocky Shore. There’s also a unique jellyfish exhibit, “The Jellies Experience,”
a very cool outdoor tide pool amphitheater, touch pools, and great Sea Otters
Grove Museum of Natural History
Located at corner of
Forest and Central Avenues in Pacific Grove. Free Admission.
Exhibits include local
birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and Geology.
Pinos Lighthouse
Located near the intersection
of Lighthouse and Asilomare Avenues in Pacific Grove.
$2 donation is
suggested. It’s West Coast’s oldest working lighthouse.

With 45 inns located in
Carmel-by-the-Sea, you’ll be able to find something to meet your liking. For a
complete listing of places to stay in Carmel, please visit their website at

We stayed at the
family-friendly Hofsas House which is a unique boutique hotel family-run with a
Bavarian-inspired flare. With free WiFi, kitchenettes, fireplaces, spacious
rooms, a heated pool, dry saunas, and free continental breakfast, it is
centrally located to everything you need within walking distance. If you call
ahead, you can order in-room Monterey wine and cheese pairing service ready
when you arrive. Other offerings include:
& Cheese Pairing
Fire & S’mores Bundle with blanket and flashlight
Couples Massages
Fire Set-up
Discounts to (6) Golf Courses
Bay Aquarium “2 Day Pass for Price of One” Discount.

Carrie Theis, the General
Manager and the original owner’s granddaughter, is super sweet and helpful. She
is very knowledgeable about the area so don’t hesitate to meet with her and ask
her questions. We loved that she has binoculars for the children to borrow.
Hofsas House is located
on San Carlos between 3rd and 4th Street. (800) 221-2548 Note: it may be hard to find at first because
all the street signage are on posts. Look for a pink hotel!
Carmel offers a wide
range of dining experiences. We’ve shared where we’ve visited below. For a complete
listing, please visit their website at

Ave. Deli & Catering Co.
Breakfast & Lunch.
Gourmet Deli.
Located on 5th
between San Carlos and Dolores.
(831) 625-2688

Note: There are no
dining tables. Great for take-out for beach or park picnics.

Breakfast, Lunch,
Located at Pine Inn on
Ocean at Monte Verde.
(831) 622-5100,

Il Fornaio offers a
family-friendly Italian menu.

Point Restaurant
36700 Hwy 1
Carmel, CA
(831) 624-2933
We stopped here for a
delicious brunch. It was en route to Big Sur, and we were in amazement. The views
are spectacular so even if you don’t stop for dining, stop to take in the

We loved our visit to
California’s Central Coast and hope to visit every few years to explore more. The only thing we would do differently is drive up the coast on our way there so we’re not taking another full day to back-track. Thanks for the warm hospitality, Carmel-by-the-Sea! For more information,
please visit the Carmel Chamber of Commerce’s website at

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