USA - Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
I loved visiting California and especially enjoyed Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s a cute little town of about four thousand people located in California’s Monterey Peninsula. It is seaside village known for the Carmel Mission Basilica, the fairy-tale cottages and it’s city center filled with shops and restaurants. I stopped by this little town twice on my trip to California and here are my highlights.
I am not a religious person, but I like to visit churches and basilicas when I travel. The Carmel Mission Basilica did not disappoint. Built in seventeen ninety seven, it is a Spanish Mission and you can see this influence in every inch of the property. The grounds are gorgeous and it’s peaceful. There is a small fee to enter and a museum. It took about an hour or so to go through and I could have stayed a lot longer. There are several fountains, the grounds are meticulous and the architecture is gorgeous. I reveled in the slow pace here and found a couple of little places to sit and take it all in. I did not feel like I was in California. I highly recommend stopping here if you are near this area. If I am ever back in Carmel, I would come to this lovely basilica again.
Carmel is also know for it’s fairy-tale cottages and buildings which is what drew me to this area. There are twenty one Hugh Comstock cottages in Carmel-by-the-Sea. He started to build them in the early nineteen twenties. The original was for his wife as a place for her to sell the dolls that she made. If you go to a visitor center, they will give you a map so you can walk around and see them.
Carmel-by-the-Seas city center is about a mile squared and packed with shops, restaurants and galleries. You can easily spend a day here if you like to shop, eat and go to galleries. If you don’t like these things, you won’t be here long. There are really expensive shops and reasonably priced shops, so a little for everyone. There is such a European influence in this city center, French, Italian, Spanish. The architecture of a lot of buildings are Spanish and Italian influenced while there are several French restaurants.
As I am a huge fan of Europe, this is very appealing to me. It makes me happy when I don’t have to travel all the way to Europe to reap the benefits. I stopped by the most lovely store, Jan de Luz Linens. They have all the linens you can think of, napkins, tablecloths, place settings, towels, robes, etc. You choose whatever you would like and they embroider it for you. The woman that worked there or owned the store is French and has lived in Carmel for twenty years. Down the street was the most delicious bistro, La Bicyclette. The French flag and bicycle outside drew me in which could not have worked out better. The inside was too cute and very European, the staff was fantastic and the food delicious! Patisserie Boissiere Restaurant was also lovely, I did not eat a meal here but stopped for a latte and coconut cream pie that was divine.
I like to make sure that I share with you places that I enjoy (like above) and am not great at giving negative reviews; however, I have one for you. I was looking forward to having tea at the Tuck Box in Carmel. It was disappointing to me as this little place has so much potential. I don’t know how their other food is but I came for tea and scones as this is one of the things they are known for. The scones were very strange and more like corn bread without the corn with a lot of butter, their homemade jam was less to be desired and the tea they are known for was tasteless. If you stop by here, you are really stopping by for the ambiance and not the food. It is a bit of a tourist trap. My positives on the Tuck Box, the waitress was great and the building is adorable. If you have had another experience, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
While it was chilly when I was in this area, I made sure to stop by Carmel Beach and it was gorgeous! I’m sure in the summer time it is packed. The white sand, the waves and the breeze. Just wonderful. I spent a bit of time here and just enjoyed being by the water.
On the way back to Santa Cruz I stopped in Aptos to have dinner at Cafe Sparrow. The staff was great, the food wonderful and the ambiance even better. I enjoyed this spot very much. The petit pot de creme was the best I’ve ever had. I was happy to have this as my final meal in California.
I enjoyed this area of California so much. I was surprised by how polite the drivers were, they always let you in on the highway. It is very progressive in this part of the States and Californians are friendly. I look forward to coming back to California one day, I have more cities on my list to go. Until then.