Carmel-By-The-Sea: The Perfect Socially Distanced Bay Area Day Trip

By Letty Thomas

With Covid-19 curtailing a lot of travel plans, the perfect remedy for a Bay Area resident is a day trip to somewhere new. Last month the four of us (myself, my sister Kathy, and my two daughters Katie and Kelly) planned a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea or Carmel for short.

Located on the central coast of California about 120 miles south of San Francisco in Monterey County – Carmel is a hidden gem. It is primarily a residential community with a passion for the ocean and the arts. It was developed after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when many artists, writers and actors left the city.

We packed a picnic lunch and headed down the coast. It was a two hour drive to the one square mile village. It was a Saturday so parking at the beach was a bit challenging. It was a beautiful day, Carmel has a beautiful beach, and apparently lots of beautiful people were enjoying it.

One advantage that aided us on our quest for a parking spot: there are no parking meters in town. In fact Carmel has some other unique claims. There are no street lights and no house numbers on any house or business, which also leads to no home mail delivery. Even stranger is the law making it illegal to wear high heels in town without a permit!

Once that ever illusive park spot was secured, we found an ocean view bench to eat our picnic lunch. The smell of the ocean and sound of the waves breaking was so relaxing. After eating we decided to go down on the beach. The sand was soft and wide, with a gently sloping hill leading down to the water. It's a lovely waterfront and reminds me of the beaches of the east coast.

After an hour or so, we decided to go into town and do some shopping before our early dinner. I must say, it was easier walking down the hill to the water's edge than walking back up. But made it back up the hill we did. We retrieved the car from that treasured spot, and headed up the few blocks to town.

In Carmel there are many cute shops built around fountains and plantings. We headed to Lula's Chocolates for some of their delicious sea salt caramels. It has been a family run business since 1945 using the same original recipes. They are the best caramels I've ever eaten and melt in your mouth.

We got back in the car and toured around the winding, narrow streets. The homes each having a unique name (instead of a house number) looked like something out of a Mediterranean travel brochure. Every yard had blooming flowers, bushes, and trees.

It was time for dinner. We found our restaurant: Flaherty's Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar. Due to Covid -19 we ate outside on the sidewalk. The food was delicious and the atmosphere charming as I felt I was in Europe at a sidewalk cafe. The local wine complimented the seafood dinner.

After dinner we took one last look at the ocean as the sun was beginning to set. It was time to head home after a very satisfying day in Carmel. I highly recommend a visit to this charming village by the sea.

Letty Thomas was born and raised in multiple towns in NJ. She attended college in Vermont and Connecticut. She dreamed of working for Vogue or Glamour magazine but her love of salt water and boating got in the way. She happily managed a yacht club "down the New Jersey shore" for almost 20 years before jumping into the world of beauty and travel writing. She has two grown daughters that make her smile.


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