Friday, May 16, 2014

Carmel-By-The-Sea Recommendations: Part I: Relax and Eat Lunch

bloody mary aw shucks

Recently my parents opened up an office in Carmel by the Seam (they live in town part time). Since they have opened the office they also rented the apartment above it for anyone to use while said person goes to Carmel to meet clients. That being said we have sort of taken it upon ourselves to go out once a month as opposed to going every 3 months and staying with my parents. Because we go so often I not only wanted to jot down places I love for my own record, but also to share with anyone who may go there for the first or second time. I am by no means an expert on Carmel because obviously I am not a local but we do a lot in town and are constantly trying new places and I just have grown to really love it there.

The apartment my parents have is tiny but cozy and we can let the kids run around and not be afraid they are going to break something fancy. We often go with the kids however for our 5 year wedding anniversary Nik and I went by ourselves while his mom watched the kids at home.

As you would imagine the places we visited without our kids varied from when we go with our kids.  But I thought I could bring some insight into where to eat and drink, where to enjoy a night out, and great places to relax as I have gotten to know the town pretty well.

Read on for some of our favorites:


Now when I am without the kids the main thing I want to do is relax or visit a spa.  I don't do this very often and have only been to a few spas in the area in my time going to Carmel but two that just jump out at me are Refuge in Carmel Valley, and Bernardus Lodge, also in Carmel Valley.

When we went last month we spent around $40 dollars each to use Refuge and seriously it was the coolest experience. It is outdoors in the beautiful mountains/hills of Carmel Valley. You start with either a dry or steam sauna for 10 minutes. Then you jump into a cool (50-60 degree) or cold (35-40 degree) pool for mere seconds then you relax in zero gravity chairs or by the fire for another 10 minutes. You repeat this cycle around 3-5 times to get the full experience.  I only did the cool and it knocked my breath out, Nik did the cold and he's insane.

refuge spa

After we did this about 4 times we sat in a hot tub and then left. I felt like my butt had been kicked. I did nothing much but felt like I had a serious workout. It felt great. The only downside is that my husband and I almost fell asleep at lunch. One of the coolest things I have ever done and I cannot recommend enough! They say its great for detoxifying, and good for sleep. Whatever it is I was wiped out but felt great at the same time.

Bernardus was great and just beautiful. Before my sisters wedding the bridal party had manicures and pedicures outside by the pool with wine (naturally).  I wrote a little about that day here: Wedding Weekend. While I didn't get any other treatments I walked around the grounds of this spa and it was gorgeous. Serene pools and a lobby with a beautiful fireplace. The mani and pedis were awesome and I loved how they were outside in this great little tent. Bernardus is in Carmel Valley as well.

Lunch Ideas: 

Lunch in Carmel is always a good time. It's a little foodie town without the crowds I guess you could say. It reminds me of restaurants in San Francisco but it is pretty easy to get a reservation and most serve lunch.

When I go we always walk by A.W. Shucks. It is always packed and lively but the place is really small so we could never take the kids in with us (strollers etc). Nik and I went on our anniversary and it did not disappoint. I personally don't eat oysters but I did have some fish tacos that were full of flavor, probably the best I have ever had seriously.  The bloody mary in the above picture is from here as well and it was excellent. I have been on a real bloody mary kick and this fit right in with that craving. Service is fast and they make my favorite kind of french fries....steak cut. dun dun dunnnnn. This is making me hungry just writing about it.

Another favorite for lunch is Grasing's. The sandwiches are to die for and it is not as packed during the day as it is at night (another fun lively place for dinner). We usually do bring the kids with us and they seat us out back on the patio. The wine list is fabulous too.

And finally if you are looking for a place that is quick and you want to walk down to the beach I highly recommend Salumeria Luca. When I went with Claire there was a charismatic Italian man working who made Claire laugh. As any deli would they have meats, sandwiches, italian grocery items, and gelato. They even sell picnic food that you can bring down to the park or the beach. I thought that was really cute. Sandwiches are seriously amazing and different then a traditional sandwich if that makes any sense at all.

There are a ton more in town and anywhere really is excellent but off the top of my head those are my favorite spots for lunch. Low key and nice to go along with a day of shopping or walking.

In the next part of this series I will highlight some activities to do for adults and children that we love when we go to Carmel and Monterey.

Right now I am going to find something to eat because this made me hungry!

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