We decided to cap off our holiday break with a last minute trip down to Carmel and Monterey. Since it was the week of New Years, there weren't a ton of options, but we found a small 1 bedroom beach cottage to rent on airbnb. We had never stayed in Monterey, but found that there were a TON of really adorable beach cottages to rent (check out neighboring Pacific Grove as well) at reasonable rates, many of which were walking distance to the beach and restaurants!
Our first stop in the morning was First Awakenings in Pacific Grove for brunch. I found this place on yelp and had fairly high expectations based on the reviews. The food was good (nothing amazing), and the restaurant was very family friendly with a really reasonable kids menu ($3.50 for eggs, bacon and toast!), so overall it was a good place for the whole family to enjoy.
|Brunch at First Awakenings|
Our next stop was Pt. Lobos, which is about 5 minutes south of Carmel. I had been wanting to go here ever since reading about it on my friend's blog. There is limited parking available inside the park, so I suggest parking on the street outside the main entrance. We started with the Carmel Meadow Trail, which is a short trail through the woods, that leads out to the coast. From there, we went left onto the Granite Point Trail, then briefly onto the North Shore Trail, which led us to the Cabin Trail and back to our starting point. We got to enjoy some beautiful views, and the kids enjoyed climbing over the rocks and tree roots that were along the path. Looking at the trail map, I now realize that we barely scratched the surface of what Pt. Lobos has to offer, which makes me excited for a return visit!
|Carmel Meadow Trail|
|View when you reach the water|
|Granite Point Trail|
|Lookout from North Shore Trail|
|North Shore Trail|
|One of these days I will get a picture where everyone is smiling!!|
For dinner, we got take-out from Dametra Fresh Mediterranean, located in the Del Monte Center (near Pizza my Heart). Finding great, fresh food that is affordable for the family is always a challenge when you are on vacation, so I was very excited to try this place out. Dametra's just opened and is a sister restaurant to the very popular Dametra Cafe in Carmel (highest rated and most reviewed restaurant in Carmel!). We got two of the "plate it" meals, one had Chicken Shawarma, Dolmas and Quinoa Tabouli, and the other had Falafel, Spanakopita and Greek Salad. Both dishes were served over a generous serving of rice pilaf with home-made pita bread. The kids shared a kids pita pizza. Everything was very good, but my favorites were the Chicken Shawarma, Spanakopita and the amazing pita bread. This is definitely a place we will take a detour to eat at when we are in the area again (I wish they had one closer to home!). Our meal was $22 and everyone was full afterwards!
The following morning my husband was off to play golf with his dad, so the girls and I headed to Carmel By-The-Sea. Ocean Blvd. is the main street that leads down to the beach and is lined with small boutique stores, restaurants and cafes. The shops are great for browsing, however if your kids are like mine, they probably don't want to window shop too long. If you follow Ocean Blvd past the shops, it dead ends into a parking lot for Carmel Beach. The beach is simply beautiful and the highlight of our visit had to be the dolphin watching! I was so surprised when we arrived to see that there were tons of dolphins swimming through the ocean, and surprisingly close to shore! In the hour that we spent on the beach, I probably saw more than 50 dolphins springing out of the water. It was amazing.
|View of Pebble Beach Golf Course|
|Another shot of Pebble Beach Golf Course|
|Just to give an idea of how close the dolphins were...they were just beyond where this wave is breaking.|
|Just checking out the waves|
If you are looking for a place to eat in Carmel, I recommend the following places (however...I must warn that they are not really budget friendly...Carmel is pricey!).
The Cottage is one of our favorite spots for brunch.
Forge in the Forest has a yummy burger and outdoor seating, which is nice for the kids.
What are your favorite things to do in Monterey/Pacific Grove and Carmel?
The facts: Carmel and Monterey and coastal neighbors, and are about a 2 hours drive from the Bay Area.
Cost: Gas ($15), Beach House ($200 including taxes), Brunch at First Awakenings ($35), Dinner at Dametra ($22), Pizza at La Bicicletta in Carmel ($25)