Carmel, Big Sur, and Pebble Beach are three of my favorite places. As a local, I am lucky to visit every day! For short stays or a few months, there are so many places to see and things to do. Here are a few of my favorites.
Ten Places That Are a MUST:
- Bixby Bridge and the Hwy 1 Drive
- Carmel State Beach
- 17 Mile Drive – So many cool things to see on the drive makes the $11 fee to get into PB worth it!
- Lunch at Porter’s in the Forest @ Poppy Hills Golf Course – After the drive stop for lunch at Porter’s the short rib fries and quesadilla is delish, but the pot pie is my favorite!
- Hike at Point Lobos – The best way to start the morning! Save yourself the entrance fee by parking on the shoulder of Hwy 1! I recommend early morning to see the most amount of wildlife. If you do the whole loop you are guaranteed to see an otter, lizard, and seal at least!
- Forest Theatre This is a beautiful and unique spot. The whole theater is outdoors and they do several live plays a season.
- Big Sur Bakery- This is the BEST spot for baked goods in the county!
- The Aquarium (technically in Monterey but a quick drive from Carmel)
- Garapata State Park- A fun hike for a more experienced hiker. Not that you need special gear but a higher stamina is necessary.
- Cooking Lessons at Aubergine – Check out my review! One of my favorite restaurants is Aubergine. I love the cultural dinners that are done once a month and the cooking lessons are super fun.
My Favorite Places to Eat
- Sur @ the Barnyard — get the flaming ice cream thing! So yum.
- Aubergine– This is a culinary experience. Be prepared to eat dishes you could never imagine. I have been here a half dozen times now and never had a bad bite!
- Sierra Mar @ The Post Ranch Inn & Spa –The best view in all of Big Sur and the food is grown locally at the farm on the property!
- Ventana Inn– One of my favorite lunch spots if you can get a table outside under the arbor!
- The Cheese Shop– This little shop is in the Carmel Plaza and is perfect to create an amazing cheese+wine spread to take home.
- Porter’s in the Forest
- Brunch at the Pebble Beach Lodge– Expensive but so worth it. The view is stunning, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is super posh.
- (Evening Drinks) at Spanish Bay– So fun! Sit by the fire, with a lap blanket and sip evening drink. At sunset, they have a bagpiper play.
- Casanova– Super posh spot for a date night!
- Big Sur River Inn– The best place to hang on a weekend. You can sit in big chairs at the shallow part of the river enjoying a drink and snack. The atmosphere is a bit younger and very laid back.
- Carmel Bakery & Coffee Co.
Perfect Picture Spots
- Anywhere along 17 Mile drive in Pebble Beach
- Anywhere on Hwy 1 heading towards Big Sur
- Anywhere on Scenic Drive in Carmel
- Ocean Ave Carmel
- Point Lobos- China Beach Cove
Where to Shop
Coach Outlet on San Carlos // Ocean
Bittner Fine Pen and Paper– I love this stationary shop. Super cute paper and cards.
Galerie Rue Royal– I love this gallery’s selection of pop art. The super hero series is my fave.
Coast Carmel– I love this store. The curation is very Cali-Chic and a total Carmel vibe.
Where to Spa
Bernardus— Posh and always perfect. I have never had a bad experience here!
Casa Palmero — The Spa at Pebble Beach is one of the best (and a favorite) but I have had good and bad experiences there.
Refuge— Perfect if you just want to steam, sauna and relax. A day pass starts at $44
Esalen— The original Big Sur spa experience. Natural hot springs make this spot unique. It has more of a retreat vibe than a day spa feel.