This charming little town is only one square mile, with no buildings more than two stories and a canopy of trees over this little village, no franchised food, and no corporate hotels. With their famous cottage architecture, you really feel like you can hop from one European country to another just within this little coastal town. Carmel has about 75 art galleries, 2 libraries, and 5 performing arts theaters. They also don’t utilize street addresses, so they name their houses!
Hofsas House is a delightful Bavarian inn at the top of town, only one of four in town with an outdoor pool. This family owned inn opened 75 years ago by the grandmother, Donna. It is now run by her granddaughter, Carrie, and her mom, who is 90 years old and lives a few blocks from the hotel. They have 5 two-bedroom, two-bath units that allow a family to really spread out and enjoy their stay. They are all about “extending their family hospitality to their guests.”
When you leave the Bavarian Hofsas House, you can visit a variety of other countries, such as Italy, Greece, or other countries with the lovely restaurants in town.
Check out Pilgrims Way bookstore, the only bookstore in town, which has been there since 1969. They feature local authors (such as Dick Crespo, Big Sur Revealed) along with mainstream favorites and, of course, local hero John Steinbeck. There’s a children’s corner and a “Secret Garden” out back offering a Zen moment or two.
Check out the boutique Ami for items with feminine touches, such as comfortable sweaters, fashionable bags, and a glass Christmas ornament to take home and remember your trip.
A delicious breakfast will start your morning fueled and ready to explore beautiful Carmel. Photo Courtesy Cafe Carmel.
Have breakfast at Café Carmel, which has been in town since 1952. Brit Sarah, the current owner, took it over three years ago from what was originally called Wisharts Bakery. From 7:30 in the morning until early evening, one can enjoy tasty cookies and pastries or hearty breakfast sandwiches that will keep you fueled all day.
Head over to Mad Dogs and Englishmen bike shop just across the street to get an electric bike on which you can explore all day. The shop has been in town for five years and is the only bike shop in the area. Owners Martin (an avid cyclist, himself) and Jennifer have three locations in the area. Head down Scenic Drive with a gorgeous view of the ocean on your right and Carmel cottages on your left. Come back through town to see the adorable architecture and head out on the famous 17-Mile Drive that will take you past the famous Pebble Beach Country Club and to view some of the most spectacular coastal scenery that exists. Cycling is my favorite way to see a new area and when you’re on an electric bike, it’s just easy!
Jump in the car for a short 10-minute ride and head to Switzerland. A delicious way to end your visit is dinner at Lugano Swiss Bistro. This adorable café is popular with the locals for good reason. Start with an appetizer of Swiss Puff Pastry Pastetli (shitake, portobello and forest mushrooms with melted parmesan cheese) and Saffron Risotto that will make you want to yodel! Then, enjoy Swiss style entrées to include: Chicken Schnitzel Holstein and Pizokel (Spatzli with Swiss Chard, Black Forest Ham and melted gruyere). End the feast with a family-style chocolate fondue. Make sure you get a reservation ahead of time because this place is very special and one that guests crave to visit as repeat diners.
So, go west, young (wo)man for a treat for all the senses!
Cover Photo Courtesy Hofsas House
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002 with Austin Woman Magazine and now writes their “Texas Traveler” section. She can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips and spent five years as the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard.