This idyllic community is a favorite of golfers, beachcomers, and gourmets. Tour the 17 Mile Drive, preferably in a convertible, around the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links, ogling fantasy mansions with ocean views. Exploring the adorable village of Carmel is easy from the sunny base of Carmel Valley. Abutting the rugged coastline, the once-bohemian town evokes Europe, with its cobblestone paths and pretty houses—streetlights, billboards, and even numbered addresses, aren’t allowed here. Throw in chic boutiques, cozy bistros, and small wineries, and romance is practically inescapable.
Marinus at Bernardus Lodge
At dinner, go for broke at Marinus, where you can enjoy an elaborate seafood-focused tasting menu by a roaring fireplace.
A stay at Bernardus Lodge proves that Napa hotels don’t have a monopoly on California’s premier wine country. The romantic 57-suite Bernardus is ideally situated in a lush mountain valley between the Monterey peninsula and the Big Sur coast (about 160 miles south of Napa Valley) and close to the region’s well-regarded wineries and celebrated golf links. The all-suite accommodations blend antiques and wood-beam ceilings with the requisite high-tech touches, plus plush beds, soaking tubs, and wood-burning fireplaces. The lodge’s Marinus restaurant, with chef Cal Stamenov at the helm, has evolved into one of northern California’s premier dining spots, serving California natural cuisine: dishes include Sonoma duck and grilled quail served with risotto, chanterelle, and foie gras sauce, and Carmel Bay prawns and shellfish bisque flavored with cilantro and jalapeño, paired with prize-winning Marinus Estate Bordeaux-style wine from the lodge’s own vineyard. There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the immediate surroundings, from hikes and horseback riding in the nearby Santa Lucia mountains to tennis, croquet, or bocce on the lodge lawns, but who wants to leave your perch overlooking vineyards, rolling hills, and lavender blossoms?
Jan de Luz
Poke into this charming shop for exquisite French antiques and linens.
The third oldest vintage and contemporary photography gallery in the United States dates to 1974. Over the years, owner Maggi Weston has regularly showcased industry giants like mentor Ansel Adams, André Kertész, and Edward Weston. The glass-fronted space in downtown Carmel’s tourist district also stocks a selection of photography books.
Anton & Michel
Jump into this mainstay restaurant in downtown Carmel for a snack of lobster spring rolls or Maryland crab cakes.
Tickle Pink Inn
Named for State Senator Mr. Edward Tinkle, whose stone cottage once perched atop the Pacific coastline where Tickle Pink Inn now resides, this family-owned B&B offers European luxury at the edge of Big Sur. Splurge for a deluxe ocean-view suite with a wood-burning fireplace, wet bar, balcony, and whirlpool tub. In the morning, guests are invited to take their complimentary continental breakfast on the Cliffside Deck.
The Club Next Door
A hip clothing boutique stocked with Johnny Was tees and Shu Lami dresses.
Bouchée Restaurant and Wine Bar
Stop for moules frites on a sunny day.
Dine at Michel Richard’s Citronelle, at the Carmel Valley Ranch resort—and be sure to order the Monterey Bay abalone with caviar cream.