One of my goals this summer was to see more of California… since I am moving out of the country in 76 days (EEP!) I wanted to explore more of the state I have lived in my whole life. I have always wanted to go on a road trip up the coast and just a few weeks ago I got that chance, and it ended in the most beautiful fairytale town of Carmel.
Richard, Kim and I packed up the car with a ridiculous amount of junk food and 3 pounds of vodka soaked gummy bears and headed up the coast from SoCal to the beautiful central coast. I was not prepared for the absolute BEAUTIFULNESS that is the middle of California…
We took an unexpected detour after missing an onramp on the freeway but we could not have imagined the absolute amazingness we drove through for the next few hours… We were literally speechless while looking out the windows at rolling hills and beautiful mountains that looked more out of a movie than stuck in the middle of nowhere California. We even pulled over on a deserted stretch of road to sit in the middle of the road… just cuz.
Carmel itself is a serious hidden gem of California (that apparently everyone else knew existed except me??) It’s like a fairytale village out of Beauty and the Beast or Snow White but next to a perfect beach and filled with even more perfect shopping and great food.
Carmel is extremely close to Monterrey Bay which we visited a few times to look out at the Pacific Ocean while watching some seals, visiting the most AMAZING aquarium (SIGOURNEY WEAVER IS THAT YOU?) and doing some great vintage shopping in Cannery Row.
The vintage shops of Cannery Row were so much fun and for sure a must see! I was very excited to find a first edition of a Nancy Drew book for only $5 and Kim found a great scarf that is very Stevie Nicks-esque. They also had a very cool vintage fortune teller machine that really works! (If you do go… don’t touch the displays of vintage wigs… because you might knock them over… oops) The shop is also filled with heaps of old hats that you can try on and pretend you are Kate Middleton going to the Ascot.
One of the best parts of the trip was going wine tasting for the first time! I was wary to try it since I have never really found a wine that I didn’t think was actually drinkable, but I thought I would give it a try. We stumbled upon a gorgeous winery aptly named Folktale, it is the epitome of a Folktale and a fairytale located in a chateau at the bottom of beautiful mountains within view of the sprawling vineyards.
We literally stumbled on this place at 11am one morning and were greeted with complimentary “bubbles” which we were very disappointed to find out were NOT bubbles that you blow… but bubbles that you drink. We were so impressed we came back the next day and spent the entire afternoon (and most of the evening) tasting all their wines. At only $20 for a tasting of all 6 of their wines it was an amazing deal! I even found a few that I loved! (Yay for adulting and liking wine! I’m a real adult now!)
My personal favorites were the chardonnay and the rose, I would have bought a bottle of each if they were not $40 and way out of my cheap college student wine budget. If you happen to go to Folktale for a wine tasting you NEED to split the charcuterie board with some friends, their honey and cheese combo is TO DIE FOR.
Another must go is the Monterrey Bay Aquarium which was well worth the pretty high admission fee and filled our day completely with beautiful fish and cool facts provided by our very own super professional ocean life educator, Kim. Did you know that cuttlefish can change colors just like octopi can??? Kim knows everything about fish!!
I learned so many amazing fish facts! Except beware of the salmon tank… they WILL splash you if you get too close or look like you particularly enjoy salmon poke bowls at Whole Foods (apparently I have that look and got splashed big time by some angry salmon).
Exploring the city was wonderful and so relaxing, full of so many little picturesque alleys, overpriced but great coffee shops and very eclectic (and yummy) places to eat. Carmel is one of the most amazing, relaxing places I have ever been to and I can’t wait to go back soon!