Pulling into Carmel-by-the-Sea is a feast for the senses: the woodsy smell of cypress trees mingles with the salty, fog-laden marine air; enchanting storybook cottages abound at every block; and the chatter of accents from around the globe fills your ears. Only 3.5 hours from Sacramento, yet Carmel feels oceans away.
Recommended Resort: The Bavarian-inspired and incredibly charming Hofsas House. For 60 years, the Theis family has been serving up superlative hospitality and providing “leisure with dignity” to guests at the 38-room property. From check-in to checkout, the staff, which still includes members of the original Theis clan, does a fabulous job of making each guest feel uniquely special.
While the service and rich history of Hofsas House stand alone as reasons to stay, the property is equally as alluring. Personal touches in the distinctively decorated, airy rooms – Dutch doors, fireplaces, kitchenettes, quality linens and comfy mattresses – as well as on the grounds – a heated pool, dry saunas, sun decks, and a complimentary continental breakfast featuring pastries from a local bakery – make Hofsas House feel like home away from home.
The hotel accommodates more than just couples, kids and large groups, too: four-legged friends are warmly welcomed (for a small fee). Now that’s something to bark about!
Check In: San Carlos Street between Third and Fourth Avenues in Carmel, CA. 831-624-2745, hofsashouse.com.
Check Out: Put on your walking shoes and head three blocks into town for a leisurely stroll through art galleries, boutiques or down to the Fido-friendly (and leash-free!) Carmel Beach.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, get your grub on at Mundaka (mundakacarmel.com) named for the seaside city on the Bay of Biscay in Spain. Chef Brandon Miller dishes up delicioso Spanish- and Basque-style tapas while mixologists create crafty cocktails that will knock your socks off.
Floor to ceiling, the décor is made of sustainable/reclaimed materials, and the food from sustainable ingredients; it’s cutting edge cuisine on all accounts. Whet your palate with the Coca (Catalan flatbread, spring lamb, ricotta, mint, asparagus, organic egg) or Datiles (bacon-wrapped dates, goat cheese, almond) and wash it all down with their refrescante White Sangria. Later in the evening (and after a few more glasses of sangria) the eclectic eatery turns into one of Carmel’s only dance parties. Salud!
Don’t Miss: The Monterey Bay Aquarium (montereybayaquarium.org). Contrary to popular belief, this touristy hot spot is fun for more than just the little ones – something about watching colorful marine life and psychedelic jellyfish in a dark-lit room is rather romantic.
Plus, observing the jaw-dropping exhibit: “Open Sea,” where schools of bluefin tuna and hammerhead sharks zoom past, is a perfect excuse to dive into your partner’s arms.
After your fill of fish, stop in Pacific Grove for dinner at the family-owned Fandango (fandangorestaurant.com). Just like the dance, the restaurant is lively and full of passion.
For 25 years, restaurateur’s Pierre and Marietta Bain have been dishing out award-winning Mediterranean and European-inspired cuisine – hearty pastas, succulent steaks and seafood, along with global favorites like paella and couscous Algerois – guaranteed to melt your taste buds with merriment.
If the entrée offerings, unparalleled service and intimate ambiance aren’t enough to have you calling for an encore, then surely the extensive wine list or Grand Marnier Soufflé will.
Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Managing Editor, Megan Wiskus.
Photos courtesy of Hofsas House, Mundaka, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fandango Restaurant and Megan Wiskus.
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