This local’s perspective on Carmel comes from Nancy Brown. Nancy, a new contributor to the UpTake blog, enjoyed our “Revealed” series and wanted to ring in on a town she knows and loves. Nancy considers herself a “wannabe local” of Carmel and has indeed spent a lot of time there. She has shared some valuable inside information with us on this beautiful area. I can’t wait to head down and try out the many sensational restaurants mentioned or to just sit and “listen to the lull of the crashing surf”. You can also check out Nancy’s great writing on her blog, What a Trip, or read her contributions to the Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun. Enjoy!
1. Give five adjectives that you would use to describe the “feel” of Carmel and its residents?
Artistic, creative, educated, worldly and wealthy
2. What is your favorite neighborhood/area of Carmel?
Anyone who has visited the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea remembers the Hansel and Gretel thatched roof cottages with names such as Sea Change and the lack of street numbers on the houses. I’d like to share another part of Carmel that Uptake readers might not be familiar with. When Carmel beach is socked in with fog as thick as a cotton ball, visitors should take a tip from the locals and drive inland to Carmel Valley. The valley offers nearly year-round sunshine, less traffic and wonderful hiking, biking, dining and wine tasting opportunities.
3. Which cuisine do you think Carmel does best? What is the runner-up?(feel free to share your favorite restaurant)
True foodies have died and gone to heaven when they arrive in Carmel. My mother lives in Carmel, so I visit quite often and we have never run out of excellent restaurants. Here in California and specifically Monterey County its all about local ingredients from Earthbound Farms, to Sea Harvest Fish Market, be it land or sea, it must be fresh. For high-end dining, Marinus at Bernardus Lodge is excellent, while Grasing’s on Mission Street in downtown Carmel offers close by dining. For casual dining with a Hawaiian flair try Billy Quon’s new Volcano in Carmel Valley.
4. What is the best free thing to do?
Point Lobos State Reserve, with its headlands, coves and meadows, offers visitors views of migrating gray whales (from December to May), seals, otters and shorebirds. The $10 per vehicle entrance fee is waived if you walk in.
5. What is your favorite type of entertainment?
If you are looking for action and night life you’ll need to visit nearby Monterey. Carmel restricts amplified outdoor music. My favorite entertainment in Carmel is sitting on the deck with a Carmel Valley glass of wine and listening to the lull of the crashing surf.
6. List the best family friendly activity?
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is excellent for multiple generations. The newly renovated Splash Zone will appeal to the younger set, while the Outer Bay Exhibit offers benches to sit and be entertained as you watch sharks, tuna and turtles swim by. Carmel River State Beach offers a less crowded alternative to the scenic Ocean Avenue beach.
7. What spot would you send a couple, looking for a romantic weekend?
8. Describe the perfect day…one that captures what your area/city is all about? In three sentences or less.
Begin with breakfast at Katy’s Place on Mission, then drive to Julia Pfeiffer State Park and hike in the redwoods. On your way back to Carmel, stop at the Big Sur River Inn to dangle your toes in the water and listen to the band play before you head back to your hotel room overlooking the ocean.
9. Tell us about a place that you love to go whether it is in the guidebooks or not.
The Forge in the Forest is sure to be in every guidebook because it’s been around forever. I’ve been coming here for the salad and quiche since my college days in the 80’s. Carmel is a dog friendly town and the Forge is no exception. The restaurant includes a dog pound patio with outdoor heat lamps and fire pits.
10. What question did we not ask that we should have (and answer it, of course!)?
“What is the best time of year to visit Carmel?”
Like San Francisco, Carmel is often blanketed with a thick layer of fog in the summer time. It always amuses me to see visitors freezing in their shorts and sun dresses wearing their newly purchased “I Heart Carmel” sweatshirts. When you visit Carmel, wear layers of clothing. The best time to visit Carmel is in the spring and fall; preferably during a non-holiday weekend.
Want to be our next “local expert”? Send us an e-mail or comment on this post!
Thanks to Kobuta for the stunning Carmel beach photo.