When the Hofsas House reached out to invite me to stay with them for a weekend, I called my girls up to make a girls trip happen. I do a lot of traveling with Robin (which I love) but it was great to run away with the girls for a while. No boys allowed!
6pm: We all work full-time jobs, so we met up on a Friday after work and headed down to Carmel from San Francisco. It was raining a bit, so it took us about 2.5 hours to get down there. We stopped at a McDonalds in Gilroy on the way and treated ourselves to some Gilroy Garlic french fries (serious yum!) We arrived to the Hofsas House around 9pm and checked in to a huge suit complete with cute walloper and a fireplace. We were hungry and in need of a drink, so we changed clothes and around 10pm headed out to Barmel, a bar we found on Yelp with good reviews.
Travel Tip: Most restaurants close at 10pm, 11pm the latest, so make sure to eat before you drink!
10pm: Let me tell you about Carmel’s nightlight — there isn’t one. Turns out, Barmel is the only place open past 11pm. We were starving, but the kitchen closed hours before we arrived, so we were thankful we had some fries beforehand but were also extremely hungry because we didn’t have dinner. We kept asking locals where we could grab food and they kept telling us to either go to Safeway or drive to Monterey – pizza doesn’t even come to Carmel. So, other than being really hungry and drinks going right to our heads, we had a blast dancing the night away at Barmel. They had a wonderful DJ. I will say the crowd in Carmel is very different from San Francisco. The only way I can put it is very bluntly: lots of old guys one the prowl for young ladies. Barmel is a dive feeling bar, but you’ll find Dads in sweaters partying among the younger crowd.
We headed home around 1am (hungry!) and thankfully the Hofsas House, a few minutes walk from downtown Carmel, had left cheese and crackers in our room. We really needed it!!
7:30am: We woke up around 7:30 am the next day to sunshine and view of the ocean. Our suite had a huge porch facing the ocean – the perfect way to wake up! Zoha and I ran down to the lobby to pick up some coffee, juice, fruit and pastries a la the congenital breakfast offered. We brought it back to our room to enjoy with Justina on our porch. After breakfast we checked out the pool and hotel in the daylight. I loved all the pink walls, flowers and quaint charm that Carmel offers. Hofsas House is tucked a few blocks away from Ocean Ave, the main stripe, so it’s peaceful and not overrun by tourists when you walk out the front door. The front desk staff if really nice – you may even meet Carrie, who’s Grandmother built the hotel. Ask them for tips on what to see and where to go.
10am: We headed out to wander around the town, shop at some stores and grab a brunch at Cafe Belle. Zoha and I both has the eggs with salmon and Justina had eggs on toast. Everything looked very good and it’s pretty affordable. We were STARVING and really needed a second breakfast after not having dinner the night before! Cafe Belle is located in a shopping center, so after eating, make time to check out some of the shops next door.
Noon: We headed right to Scheid Vineyards tasting room near the cafe once it opened to get our wine day on. We ended up having a really fun time here! The staff was really friendly and nice to chat to. When looking for wineries or taste rooms to visit, it is so so important to have awesome staff to chat with, otherwise you’re just throwing back wine samples in silence, which so isn’t my thing. I really enjoyed the reds here and took home a bottle of GSM. I highly recommend checking this one out when you visit Carmel for a fun tasting.
1:30pm: Afterwards we headed to Blair Wines for a second tasting. This room is much smaller and tucked in an alley. I wanted to like this one, but I just didn’t enjoy the wines as much. They had more whites then reds if that’s your blend of choice.
Travel Tip: ask your hotel if they have free wine tasting vouchers.
2:30pm: By this time the sun came out and we enjoyed looking at shops more and soaking up the sun. We headed back to the Hofsas House to drop some things off and get ready to go visit the Mission of Carmel, a must-see if you are visiting Carmel.
3:30:pm: I visited the Mission on my last trip to Carmel and fell in love with the colors, gardens and charm. It’s $9.50 to enter, but it’s free on the last (or first I can’t remember) Sunday of each month. Last time we visited we got in for free this way! I recommend spending 45-60 minutes here to soak in the gardens, read a bunch of the educational signs and learn the history of the Mission. Make sure to walk through all the little doors that are open.
4:30pm: We knew we wanted to see the sunset at Carmel Beach, so drove there from the Mission and huddled on the beach together. We were freezing since we weren’t really dressed correctly, but I still loved seeing the sunset and people watching. Everyone always comes down tot he beach to watch the sunset each night, so it’s always a fun time no matter what.
Travel tip: Bring some layers and blankets to the beach to watch the sunset! It get’s chilly in the evening, even in the summer.
5:15pm: Back to the hotel to change for dinner at the Beach House in Pacific Grove in Monterey! Monterey and Carmel are about 15 minutes from each other, so the locals are always hoping back and forth. Don’t feel limited to Carmel when visiting – there are great places to grab bites in the Monterey area, too!
7pm: Dinner at the Beach House was amazing! They’re are experts at seafood, so we each ordered a different seafood dish to split. We had the seafood pasta, the crab stuffed sole and the sand dabs. We all LOVED the sand dabs – they come with pumpkin gnocchi and brussels sprouts. It was such a unique dish of sweet yet toasted flavor. The seafood pasta has a wonderfully soupy sauce which was perfect for soaking up bread with. The crab stuffed sole was our least favorite of the three. The view from the porch is off the hook and I bet it’s 100% bettering the day with a view of the bay. Make sure to put this on your list of places to dine at when visiting this area!
Travel Tip: call ahead for a reservation, this place is poppin’!
10pm: We got back to the Hofsas House around 9pm. I totally took a little nap before we headed out around 10:30pm. We wanted to grab drinks at a different bar this night, but alas, most things close at 11pm here, so we went back to Barmel for a bit. We danced a little – Saturday nights seem to be more busy than Friday nights here. I drink beer, but the girls order cocktails and they loved theirs from here. We left around 11pm, but ended up meeting some cool people on the sidewalk as we chatted for about 30minutes. That’s what I love about small towns – its 100% easier to stick up a conversation with strangers (who are normal strangers). We close out the night at the Hofsas Hotel watching Easy A. It was a long day, but really fun.
9am: We slept in a bit on Sunday and quickly consumed a whole pot of coffee. We took it easy, slowly packing up and heading out around 10am for a quick brunch at The Cottage, a quaint little breakfast spot off of Ocean Ave. We called ahead to reserve a table and I highly recommend doing that – just like in San Francisco, it was really crowded with people waiting for tables.
10:30am: I ended up giving The Cottage 3 stars on Yelp. I loved the cute pink walls and I ordered their Kathy Cakes, smaller pancakes, which were filled with fruit and very yummy. That being said, the service was slow (it took close to 45 minutes to get our food) and it was very crowded. I think it’s a better place to check out not on Sunday during the rush period. Bay Area brunch problems!
11:45am: Bye bye Carmel! Since this was Super Bowl Sunday, we wanted to leave before Noon to get back to the city in time to catch the game. Robin and I haven’t ever watch the game together. Either I’m traveling or he’s working most years. This was our first time to watch the game together, so I was eager to get back. The drive was quick due to most people being indoors ready to get their football on.
I loved our little girls trip away. We have to many options here in the Bay Area, but even if you don’t live here, you must must must do more little trips with your girlfriends. Memories > things, always.
Shop My Carmel Packing List.
Thank you to Hofsas House for a sponsored stay and to the Beach House for a media dinner.