Carmel, CA is known for wine, art and dog-friendly businesses, but what can families do during a quick weekend getaway? Turns out a lot! Grab your notebook, or star this page for later reference because this post is all about a few must-do activities for the laid back family. Keep reading after this post for more California-based family travels, too!
This is not a sponsored post. I stayed a complimentary weekend in Carmel at Hofsas House to facilitate this review.
Carmel Family Day 1
Check in at one of the local hotels (with or without your pet!) — Hofsas House is a family-owned business that's been in Carmel since the 50s. Since then Donna has passed the reins down to her children and now granddaughter, Carrie, but still comes in to help set up breakfast (fresh fruit and Paris Bakery) for guests in the morning sometimes. Have a question about Carmel? Carrie grew up here and is more than happy to chat with guests about the history, lifestyle and things to do. Hofsas House has a dry sauna, pool, parking and heated bathroom floors (my personal fave). Parents can unwind with a local wine and cheese welcome added to the room ($30 package), or an in-room massage if you wish!
Stop by 5th Avenue Deli for a picnic to-go. It's just about one block over from Hofsas House so super close by. They prepare your choice of sandwich with a side, treat and chips — it's such a fun lunch for everyone (and easy to do)! For dinner later you might enjoy
After a stop in for lunch it's just a short walk to Ocean Avenue and the beach, where the public restrooms are close and fully stocked with toilet paper & soap (super important as a parent)! The view is magnificent, the sand is soft and there's always a spot just right for your family. If you're able to, don't forget to check out the sunset on the beach — It makes for some pretty cool photos.
Walk around Carmel for some beautiful sights and fresh air. Check out the shops and meet the owners/staff — Everyone is extremely friendly and willing to chat (especially during the week and in off-season). The first shop I came across when walking around Carmel was Anne Thull Fine Art Designs, a lovely shop filled with amazing woodwork (which drew me in) by local artists, as well as one-of-a-kind stone pieces. They were super helpful about things to do around town and didn't mind my browsing and drooling over some of the hardware (but it may not be the most kid-friendly shop with all the breakables).
Another shop I highly recommend stopping by is Bee Bark & Moss (between 5th & 6th Avenue) — It's owned by local mom, Minori, who actually makes her washable hemp bags on-site for you to see! I really want one of her bags (next trip)! A friend of hers sells goats milk and makes some super cute handcrafted soaps to sell in the shop as well. All of the businesses I've stopped in within Carmel have a strong sense of community, and are sure to include local artists or businesses in their own before reaching out to those outside the area. It's kind of cool knowing the cheese I got in my hotel room is from a local cheese shop I can visit a few blocks away for even more goodies!
If you're balancing the day with family fun and adult things to do then olive oil tasting something I recommend. Trio Carmel has a huge selection of balsamic vinegars and olive oil blends to mix and try. I picked up a bottle of basil infused olive oil and mango infused balsamic vinegar to mix for an at-home salad dressing. It's also OK to bring kids into a lot of the wineries on the Carmel Wine Walk (which can be added to your hotel stay) since they don't serve food. I don't quite understand how that works but it allowed a mama at one of my stops to try some wine with friends while babywearing, so that works! (Just be aware they don't have anything for the kids to do there and a lot of the tasting rooms are a bit narrow.)
A must is the walk around town to see all the fun cottages and historical places. Some cottages are originals while others were made to replicate the original cottage style. While on the self-guided tour it's also fun to see all the different names used on the homes instead of postal addresses — They're all unique! Of course the cottage of sweets and some window shopping are a must, even for the kiddos, and parents and kids alike will appreciate The Art of Dr. Seuss in Carmel's very special tribute gallery. I didn't take pics of that one due to copyright, but the paintings, sculptures and other works of art are quite vibrant.
Carmel Family Day 2
Day 2 is usually when families try to pack in what they missed the day before, but with a Carmel vacation you can make it whatever you would like — More time at the beach, pool day, you name it. Save on breakfast by eating at your hotel. I absolutely LOVE Paris Bakery so the Hofsas House continental breakfast is the first one I've ever liked at a hotel. Depending on when you stop in the beautifully engrave copper Hofsas House fireplace may be on for a cozy chat with loved ones, or to read the local paper. Hofsas House even has little kids wingback chairs in the welcome room/breakfast area!
If you're heading back early to get ready for Monday then take the scenic route and check out the 17-Mile Drive! Another option is to drive part of that and visit Lover's Point for a beautiful view before you go. It's just 15 minutes away from Carmel-by-the-sea and down the street from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (in case you have some time for that before heading back). I've heard My Museum is fun for kids, too but haven't visited in-person yet.
What's your favorite part of a beach trip? Have a favorite spot in Carmel? Let me know in the comments below!
Today Savvy Every Day is joining with other California bloggers to share some favorite family destinations in the Golden State! Find great resources in this list, plus link up your own below!