Elegant Coastal Inn with Acclaimed Restaurant
The three-story, white-stucco L’Auberge Carmel inn was built in the years just before the Great Depression, but a massive restoration in 2004 has brought it into the present. Nowadays the inn is consistently ranked one of the region’s best places to stay—it’s been a Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award nominee a number of times, and in 2012 it was a finalist in the magazine’s quest to find the “most excellent inn.”
Despite the overhaul, the inn retains many of its distinctive architectural features, including a façade that looks like it could have come from a Central European hamlet. The guest rooms are individually decorated and feature original black-and-white prints by nature photographer Helmut Horn. Each room has its own enlarged bathroom with hammered-copper sinks and antique travertine-tile floors.
Downstairs you’ll find Aubergine, a modern California restaurant named one of the best in the Bay Area by Zagat. Executive chef Justin Cogley—who Food and Wine named one of the Best New Chefs of 2013—prepares a changing menu that goes nicely with a selection of local wines stored in the restaurant’s cavernous, subterranean cellar that holds 4,500 bottles. Every morning, the chefs serve a breakfast of fresh-squeezed orange juice, eggs any style, and a housemade breakfast pastry and jam.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California: Bohemian Outpost with Boutique Shops and Wineries
Located just a few hours south of San Francisco along the coastline, Carmel-by-the-Sea is surrounded by colorful scenes, from green meadows to the blue Pacific Ocean. “If you’ve never been to Carmel-by-the-Sea,” writes Coastal Living, “picture a quiet English village along a rugged Pacific coastline.” Once an outpost for artsy types such as Jack London, the 1-square-mile town remains true to its relaxed, anachronistic roots—streetlights, numbered addresses, and hovercrafts are nonexistent.
Bistro-style restaurants, valley vineyards, and boutiques have recently joined the mix. In addition to the offerings at the town's live theater and 40 art galleries, several outdoor activities take place in the area, including whale watching and kayaking in the Pacific and hiking among the redwoods at Big Sur, located 45 minutes up scenic Highway 1. Golfers can make the 10-minute drive to Pebble Beach Golf Links, which has hosted five US Open tournaments and was named one of the world’s Top 10 Golf Courses by National Geographic.