Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2019 issue.
There is something truly magical about Carmel-by-the-Sea. The quaint beach city on on California’s Monterey Peninsula is known for its wine tasting rooms and art galleries, oceanfront access, fairytale cottages and delicious bistro scene. The offerings of yoga and mindfulness offerings are becoming increasingly available to locals and visitors, and now with a direct flight to Monterey from Denver, there’s no reason not to plan a visit. My fiancé Bobby and I went last April, greeted daily by blue skies and pleasant temperatures.
There are a number of cute bed & breakfast-style accommodations in Carmel. We found the Horizon Inn for our long weekend. It has a convenient location on Junipero Avenue, just a 10 minute walk from the village center and a few minutes more to Carmel Beach. Our days began by opening the guest room door to a continental breakfast basket — a thoughtful touch and tasty start to the morning.
Book a few things in advance, but also leave time for wandering around town. We arranged a Mindful Walking & Meditation session, led by Monterey Bay Meditation. We met Katie Dutcher at the Palo Corona Regional Park, located right off of the California State Route 1 on the way out of town toward to Big Sur. We spent a little over an hour with Katie, walking on the spacious hillside before stopping for a guided seated meditation. Her voice drifted on the light breeze passing between us, and as I opened my eyes after about 20 minutes of stillness, I recall the calm surrender of that moment being so tangible and rich. We sat for a little while longer, looking out over the seaside community and the long beach where Carmel meets the water.
Beyond daily walk or runs, yoga and meditation, our time in Carmel was mostly about not planning. We made one dinner reservation at family-owned Italian restaurant, Il Tegamino. It’s a perfect date night spot, tucked away in a beautiful and romantic courtyard. Beyond that, we relished in finding the gems of the city by instinct, or luck. Wine tasting rooms are everywhere on and around Ocean Avenue, so most afternoons we sauntered between them. Our dinner at Cultura Comida y Bebida, a Mezcalería serving modern Mexican cuisine, was particularly memorable for the inviting atmosphere, creative mezcal cocktails and unique menu.
There are plenty of plans you can make to experience tourist attractions, as well. The 17-Mile Drive takes you on a leisurely driver’s seat tour of some of the area’s most scenic natural treasures. We decided that next time, we’ll rent bikes to pass through through the pristine Del Monte Forest and quietly luxurious Pebble Beach. It was actually on this drive one evening of trip, during a dinner stop at The Inn at Spanish Bay, where Bobby asked me to marry him as the Scottish bagpiper serenaded us at sunset.
It’s for all the reasons I mentioned, and many, many more, that Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula will always have a very special place in my heart.
As I mentioned above, traveling to Carmel from Colorado is easier now that Monterey Regional Airport has re-launched a twice-daily direct flight from Denver International Airport.
Carmel has a Mindful-by-the-Sea Retreat March 20-22, 2019. Learn more at .
Photos courtesy of CarmelCalifornia.com and Kim Fuller.