After a year and a half of living in San Francisco, and leaving, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Big Sur still sit squarely at the top of my California bucket list. How did I live in the Bay Area and let this charming coastline pass me by?
When I’m traveling and go into tourist mode (or traveler mode, yeah that sounds better), I maximize every bit of sunlight I get out of each day. I wake up early, I rent cars that I’m afraid to drive, I walk nearly 20,000 steps, and revisit places multiple times to see how the light changes.
And yet, when I settle in somewhere, the rhythm of daily life seems to make me miss the things I’d seek out as a visitor. Well, thank goodness work still brings me to San Francisco on a regular basis, and this January I had a chance to finally visit the adorable town of Carmel, in Northern California!
I learned so much about creativity, writing, photography, and business, and yet we still had plenty of time to soak in this beautiful destination.
And the funniest part? It’s actually easy to get to Carmel — and SO worth it! I never should’ve waited this long. To kick off my posts about Carmel, here’s how to get to Carmel and where to stay.
How to Get to Carmel
You can take a train from San Francisco, or even fly directly into Carmel. But I think your best bet is to rent a car from SFO. It’s roughly a two hour drive whether you take US-101 inland or spend most of the drive on CA-1, enjoying a more coastal drive.
While you won’t need a car to exploring the town of Carmel, which is very walkable, having a car will allow you to really take advantage of the surrounding area.
With a car in Carmel, you can visit nearby spots like Bixby Bridge, Point Lobos State Park, and on a rainy day like we had, drive along the Carmel ocean front properties, only hopping out when the rain let up.
I rented a midsize car through Alamo and paid $115.95, not including gas, for a three and a half day rental period. Not bad if split with friends!
Where to Stay in Carmel
We walked past a number of sweet little inns and boutique hotels in town, but I loved the place we stayed at, Hotel Carmel. This boutique hotel is in the heart of Carmel, and makes it easy to explore.
Plus they have parking for guests, an adorable fire pit patio, to die for local bagels and artisan cream cheese for breakfast, and wine happy hours. Seriously, what’s not to love?
The nightly rates vary by season, but the room we stayed in was big with two queen beds, so you could certainly share! Make sure to book your accommodations early, as the hotels in Carmel are for the most part small with a limited number of rooms.
Have you ever been to Carmel? How did you get there and where did you stay?