Where to Go This Weekend: Day Trip to Carmel-By-The-Sea and Carmel River State Beach

I love to take day trips to places I don't get to regularly enjoy around the Bay Area. A stunning favorite date destination for my ...

I love to take day trips to places I don't get to regularly enjoy around the Bay Area. A stunning favorite date destination for my boyfriend and me is Carmel-By-The-Sea. While it isn't technically in the Bay Area, I think most people include places like Monterey, Carmel, or Santa Cruz when they refer to local Bay attractions. 

We typically leave for Carmel-By-The-Sea earlier on a Saturday or Sunday to avoid beach going traffic. It's about a 2-2.5hr drive from the Bay Area to Carmel so we pack picnic materials, pick out some favorite tunes for our mini road trip (we switched it between Wu Tang Clan and Frank Sinatra), and leave around 9am or 10am.  

Prepare for the beach...Be sure to wear layers (it gets pretty chilly!) and comfortable walking shoes or a change of clothes. We arrived around lunchtime and went to a local grocer and bought picnic food and headed straight to Carmel River State Beach to enjoy our mid-day meal with nature. 

There is so much to see and explore on this mile long beach. It is made up of the Carmel River Lagoon and Wetlands Natural Reserve, and Monastery Beach-also known as San Jose Creek Beach. It is a favorite for bird watching and diving (located just north of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve).  My boyfriend and I combed the beach and climbed its rocky northern nose to see small sea creatures, local flora, and birds better. This is a relaxed and beautiful beach to take your dog to play or have a picnic date and watch the waves and whatever nature presents you that day. However, it is not a safe place for swimming due to its riptides and cold waters. 

Flora and Fauna...I'm so glad we came during the winter, when bird watching is at its prime for the area. I was so busy enjoying nature and seeing the variety of birds I didn't take any pictures of them. So you'll just have to go there to see it for yourself. We also spotted several whales with their calves, swimming north from their warm water breeding grounds. 

Downtown and Beach Sunsets...After a few hours, head into downtown Carmel and check out the local galleries, shops, and a warm up with a cup of coffee, such as Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co. Usually, we might stick around that area until dinner, but after I thawed out from the cold I desperately wanted to go back to see the sun set. It was completely worth it. The colors were breathtaking and it felt like we had the whole world to ourselves. We walked along the road overlooking the water from the cliff and found a bench to sit and watch nature do its own light show. 

Dinner...After sunset we had the most delicious Italian dinner downtown at Da Giovanni's. They offer gluten-free pasta and are flexible with allergies and substitutions (a MUST for me). It was a beautiful, special day trip date and we look forward to returning again. 

Carmel River State Beach
Carmelo St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
Directions: From Highway 1, head west on Rio Road (one mile south of Ocean Avenue). Turn left on Carmelo Street to access the parking lot.
Mile-long beach perfect for birding, picnicking, and watching the sunset.

Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co
316 Mid Valley Center, #157
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
Typically open 6am-6pm
Great coffee, French-rustic atmosphere, fresh baked pastries, and small indoor seating area. 

Da Giovanni
5th & 6th Lincoln Street
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921
Typically open 5pm-9:30pm
Gourmet Italian menu (with allergy friendly accommodations), romantic ambiance, extensive wine, and a dog-friendly patio.

Where do you like to take day trips? 
Do you have any Carmel local gems you can share for our next trip? 

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