A Weekend in Carmel, California!

Since my first year with Michael, I have been lucky to have a “spot” we manage to take a visit to at-least once a year. For our first trip, I surprised him on Valentine’s Day with the news that the Along Comes Mary had been invited to come up for a stay; our first getaway together. For our first trip post our engagement, we found ourselves back again. And, now, on our most recent trip, we are newlyweds. I am talking about Carmel-by-the-Sea, California! Easily one of my most favorite parts of California, Carmel is a really special little place.

Just 15 minutes from Monterey Bay, Cannery Row and the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, and moments from world renowned Pebble Beach, Carmel, California is an intimate sea village just bursting with charm among their cobble stone streets. From bed and breakfasts, shops, wineries and fantastic restaurants, cafes and coffee houses. Each time has found our trip just a bit different, which is perfect as every time finds us enjoying something (or, somewhere, new).

Spending the weekend at Hofsas House Hotel, The Hofsas House is a catch-22 as they make it very difficult to want to leave your room! Each suite or cottage has its own unique European accents as they pay homage to their Bavarian background. Family owned since the 1940’s, hostess (and Mrs. Hofsas’ granddaughter), Carrie Thesis does a remarkable job at making you feel like family each time you visit. Small upgrades like their Wine and Cheese package (giving you a bottle of local wine, 2 bricks of cheese from Carmel’s Cheese Shop and crackers) are a must in my opinion. After a very long haul drive up the 5 from LA, it’s pretty sweet to not only arrive to a fantastic room, but, one with a bottle of Chardonnay and cheese awaiting you! Psst, no worries about a wine bottle opener. They got you covered with that, too.

Michael and myself with the incredibly hospitable Carrie Thesis.

Another reason to relax on your way to Hofsas House, along with knowing wine is chilled and waiting for you? Their front desk may close up at 10pm, but, just give them a call ahead of time and they’ll gladly arrange a lock box at your door for you, with your key!

Well rested the next morning, we awoke ready to venture out to new places. We stopped to grab some breakfast from the lobby (pastries, fruit, coffee, tea…) and got to see the lovely Carrie and figure out our course of action for the Saturday ahead. While it was tempting, we didn’t have time to squeeze in a stop at nearby Big Sur. While Big Sur is undergoing some renovations and clean up’s, much of the incredible road is indeed open, and their small town is always happy to see new faces. Learn more about what to see and do at Big Sur HERE.

Having not spent much time in Monterey, I was excited to at last experience their Cannery Row; home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, famous shops and restaurants. The “hot spot” for tourists and locals alike. Since we would be enjoying dinner minutes away next door in Pacific Grove at the Beach House Restaurant, we decided to head right on over to enjoy a bike ride before our evening. Not going to lie: I’m not a confidant biker. I only just started even riding again, this year. There were many hiccups along our route, but, it is certainly something special to feel the tranquil ocean air hitting against your face, and the sun shining, along the coast line in next door Pacific Grove (home of the butterflies, so says their sign!).

Speaking of Pacific Grove, I was intrigued when The Beach House invited us to experience a dinner for two, over looking their incredible ocean views. Known as “Lover’s Point”, The Beach House lays among the several watering holes and at Lover’s Point Park, where those seeking the seaside flock to in the summertime.

Panko-Sand Dabs Almondine at The Beach House.
Steak, Scampi & Fries dish.
Photo: Michael Farah.

While we were seated promptly at our reservation time, it took us quite awhile to be greeted and offered drinks. Our server, Axel, was extremely helpful in assisting me with gluten-free options and confirmed that The Beach House’s famous Panko-Sand Dabs Almondine dish could indeed be prepared gluten-free. While I was eager to experience them, in retrospect, I can see why they are not usually included on their gluten-free menu. We ended up waiting well over a half hour for our dinner, in part, due to the sand dabs ‘crumbling’ when the chef attempted to prepare them gluten free. Usually crusted, they were served sans their usual crust finish. Their signature lemon beurre blanc was excellent atop the sand dabs, as was their rice pilaf.

It’s quite easy to see why the Beach House is as popular as it is; their ocean views when dining al fresco are quite remarkable, and certainly transform you to the romantic “Lover’s Point”:

Yet, the most exciting gluten-free options at The Beach House? Dessert!

Surprisingly, their cheesecake is gluten-free….we all know what I wanted. It was rich, it was creamy, it was was a fantastic end to the evening. While I chose their raspberry sauce, I appreciated Axel’s options: Raspberry, Caramel or both? While it did lack a solid crust, it still was perfection and a treat for me to have something with ‘cake’ in it’s title.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Our next morning, we decided to get in some more fun before our trek back down The 5. We began with a beautiful hike at nearby Jack’s Peak Park, which reminded me of the trails in California’s Shasta County. Passing some gorgeous vista’s, there are several spots on their trails to see views of the entire Monterey Bay. Beautiful!

Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey Bay are easily two of the most breath taking areas of our Golden State. Make sure to visit next time you’re on a California getaway, and, tell them Along Comes Mary sent you at The Hofsas House and Beach House! xo

(*Disclosure: This was a media sponsored trip. All opinions are my own.)

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