To facilitate this post, we received complementary accommodations and entrance to some attractions. However all opinions expressed are my own.
I was overdue for a mini vacation. After a few months of having some health issues, it was good to go out of town with friends. We all work and have busy schedules. So we knew we needed a quick trip. We needed a place that was not to expensive and totally worth the drive. It was easy to decide to visit Carmel, California.
So here it is a good itinerary to follow if you only have a weekend to drive up north to visit Carmel and Monterey area. You can actually do all of it on a weekend, or if you need and want some time to rest, you might want to have a long weekend or take either Friday or Monday off to complete your drive.
Drive north on the 101
If you are any where in Southern California, you want to head towards the 101 North. The drive itself, once you get out of Los Angeles are is a really nice one. After passing Ventura County, you will be able to enjoy beautiful views of the ocean as you drive towards Santa Barbara. Then after Santa Barbara you get amazing mountains views and also some vineyards.
First stop: Ostrichland
Since all members of the #BloggerTrio are animal lovers, we decided to make a quick stop at Ostrichland. Located in Buellton, California, just a few miles from Solvang, this place is home to Ostriches and Emus. For a small nominal fee you get to go the fields where the animals are. Also for just $1 you can buy a bowl of food to feed them. Pretty cool picture opportunities and also a great way to learn about this exotic birds.
Once you are ready to leave, you can shop at the store. Ostriches eggs and other pretty cool souvenirs are available.
For more information you can visit Ostrichland
Second stop: Solvang
After feeding the Ostriches and Emus, we were hungry. We all knew that a great place to have lunch (or brunch) is Solvang. The Danish Village has great places to eat. You can find everything. Some European options but they also have fast food and other types of foods.
Not only the food is amazing at Solvang, but the town has the most unique shops for small gifts, wine tasting, cheese tasting and bakeries.
Solvang is also a great place to just walk with the family, get some ice cream and ride the horse trolley.
We got to walk around, take some great pictures and have brunch!
Where to stay at Carmel, California
After a few hours of driving, you will arrive at Carmel. Since the town is a tourist destination, I would recommend to have reservations in advance. The last time we visited Carmel, we stayed at a cozy hotel, Hofsas House.
We love boutique hotels because of their hospitality and their service. One cool thing about Hofsas House, is that the rooms are big, they have a fire place and you can add extras to your room such as massages or cheese and wine.
What to do while in Carmel, California
Carmel is a tourist town. It is a small city beach located in the Monterey Peninsula. It has great shops, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. It is a place to enjoy with friends, but also great to travel with your kids.
1. Wine Walk
Wine Tasting Passport that allows to have one flight at ten of the 14 participating tasting rooms. It can be used in one day or spread out over a weekend, several weeks, or even months.
2. Whale Watching at Monterey
Even if you get a little sea sick whale watching is a experience you must do while in Monterey. We went with Discovery Whale Watch. I was very pleased with them. Their boat is small, but that is good, because it means less people on your way and chance of better pictures. Their staff is great. They teach you a lot about the whales (and other sea creatures) behaviors. We say probably 20 Risso dolphins and at least 5 humpback whales.
For more information visit Discovery Whale Watch
3. Dinner at Monterey FIsherman's Wharf
The Wharf offers many choices. As you walk by the pier, you can see the meals, you can even have samples. If you sign up online, you can get a VIP card that will provide you with some discounts.
Our choice for dinner was Abalonetti Bar & Grill, a very recommended restaurant by locals. If you love calamari, this is the place for you.
On our menu was
Appetizer: Fried Monterey Calamari
Drinks: Happy hour margaritas and also the mango pina colada
Entrees: Abalonetti's original calamari and Grilled calamari steak
Dessert: Creme brulee
It was one of the best calamari dinners we have ever had. I cannot wait to take my son (who loves seafood) here.
For more information visit Abalonetti Bar & Grill
4. Picnic at the beach with food from the 5th Avenue Deli in Carmel)
If you have time to visit the beach, you should stop by the 5th Avenue Deli and grab some food and have a picnic by the beach. You can also grab the food to enjoy on the road while you drive back home.
The prices are affordable, they have pre-made food such as salads, and they can also craft sandwiches for you. They offer very convenient to go boxes.
For more information you can visit 5th Avenue Deli
5. Drive around the 17 mile drive
One of my favorite things to do when I visit Carmel. The views are amazing, great picture opportunities. The map details all the stops and you can even have picnic by the beach at some stops. The 17 mile drive is a must do!
The drive back home is as cool as the way here. You can even take the HWY 1 and visit Big Sur.
Although the roads have been closed for a complete drive down towards Los Angeles, you can still visit some of the beaches near by.