Carmel-by-the-Sea has been a staple since I began dating my now-husband. Each getaway has found us staying with Hofsas House Hotel in the center of town. We’ve tackled bringing our two very energetic dogs, but Mabel, our toddler, would be a first. How did we do in the charming fairy tale village? Read on to find out all of our hidden gems and must-sees.

Day 1: Hitting the Road

I love any chance to visit the Central Coast. Now that my family and I are in Ventura County, we’re slightly closer. Mabel was a trooper on the ride and our first stop was a quick one in Buellton. We continued up the 101 and decided on Big Sky Cafe in Downtown San Luis Obispo for lunch.

Big Sky is one of my favorites in “SLO.” It’s farm-to-table menu boasts delicious and organic plates. They’re laid back and casual which makes it ideal for kiddos. Most items can be prepared gluten-free and there’s vegan options.

Arriving to Hofsas House Hotel

Hofsas House Hotel has been owned and managed by the Hofsas Family for 75 years. Its European-inspired grounds add to Carmel’s idyllic atmosphere and we love that it’s right in town.

Since Hofsas has several levels, that also means many stairs. We stayed in Room 36 which is street level and handy for a very active babe. No stairs needed to get to our room. There’s parallel parking spots right outside the door, as well as an ample parking lot in the rear. Our fireplace was so cozy after a long day in the car, and Hofsas had a Pack ‘n Play all set for Mabel. Our large vanity worked out perfectly as a “room” for her to settle in for the night.

Something I’ve come to look forward to at Hofsas is their Wine and Cheese Package. For an additional fee, guests can enjoy a bottle of local wine and either local cheese or chocolate. This was just what we needed after our six plus hour road trip.

Day 2: Saturday in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Our room had a beautiful ocean view from the private patio. The quaint Hofsas lobby serves a grab and go breakfast each morning from eight AM to 10 AM. There’s pastries, yogurt, fruit, local coffee, and tea.

We love to hike and decided to find a trail in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This is a gorgeous park but we learned a few things along the way. It gets crowded on the weekend so the earlier the better to arrive (they open at eight). It’s $10 to park within Point Lobos and there aren’t any parking lots until you’re deeper into the reserve and close to the ocean (skipping the gorgeous forest trails). An alternative plan is to park along Highway 1 out front. Again, it gets congested so plan to arrive early or be very patient.

Hofsas House Hotel. (c) Mary Farah
Our suite. (c) Mary Farah
Room with a view. (c) Mary Farah

After about four miles of hiking, we were ready to grab some grub and enjoy the best part of Carmel. The BEACH! We got lunch to-go from Cafe Carmel and 5th Avenue Deli. Cafe Carmel is one of a few popular coffee nooks along Ocean Avenue. Here, we found sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and tea. A “tried and true” is certainly 5th Avenue Deli. They offer sandwiches, hot entrees, soups, salads, snacks, sweets, wine, drinks, and more. I’ve always enjoyed it, and now appreciate their variety even more. Perfect for kiddos.

Beach Time and Wine Tasting

Often named one of the Best California Beaches, it’s hard to beat Carmel River State Beach. Cypress trees and even glimpses of Pebble Beach surround you. Since Carmel is incredibly dog-friendly, it’s no surprise it’s an off-leash beach.

We enjoyed lunch in our pop-up tent. Afterwards we decided to stroll through downtown and taste some vino. Monterey County is a stone’s throw to Napa so it’s only natural Carmel is home to some terrific varietals. The charming village has well over a dozen wineries. We began at Dawn’s Dream. Known for their Pinot Noirs, Dawn’s has a laid-back atmosphere and is a tucked away gem. We’d been wine hopping with our dogs before and were so happy at the warm welcome to a spunky toddler!

Sweet treats at Cafe Carmel. (c) Mary Farah
Beach time at Carmel River State Beach. (c) Mary Farah

Next up, we stumbled into Blair Winery and liked that it wasn’t too crowded. So, we pulled up a seat. It turned out we had none other than the winemaker himself, Jeffrey Blair, pouring and chatting with us. We loved every glass and appreciated Blair’s hospitality. Best part? Mabel had a fun time right along with us. She smiled and made friends and even got some major puppy kisses in.

We finished up the evening with scrumptious pizzas to-go from La Bicyclette and crashed.

Day 3: Sunday and Farewell

Before we headed out on Sunday, we did one more walk through town. The window shopping is always lavish and there’s plenty of souvenir shops, too. Just up the street from Hofsas is Forest Hill Park on Junipero Street. Mabel had fun on their playground and it’s another “perk” as it’s within walking distance.

If we could have stayed longer, we would have. Mabel showed us once again that she’s a road trip lover. Hofsas House Hotel and Carmel-by-the-Sea has once again proven it has my heart!

(*Note from the Author: Thank you to Hofsas House Hotel for hosting my stay on behalf of story purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.)


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