California Part 3–Carmel By the Sea, Big Sur & Pebble Beach

After a disappointing In-N-Out experience and a late night arrival in Carmel, w e woke up bright and early the next morning to a lovely (and complimentary!) continental breakfast delivered to our room.

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Since we had missed much of the beauty of Big Sur in the dark the night before, we decided to backtrack before driving back to Pebble Beach. Of course we couldn’t leave Carmel without exploring a little, so we finished our croissants and left the Carmel Lodge on foot to check out the town.

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What a quaint, whimsical little place Carmel is, just like it’s name, Carmel By The Sea. Of all of our California destinations, Carmel is the one I would most like to return to. It’s quiet, the people are friendly and it is so beautiful! Between the gorgeous shoreline, the tree lined streets and the magical looking shops and homes, it’s absolutely one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been.

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Each little shop had unique architecture and a beautiful doorway, each unlike the next. It reminded me of the trip to Italy I took with my sister two years ago and all the different doors we saw in Rome. One thing I dislike about living in Hilton Head is that many neighborhoods have such strict codes that all of the houses look exactly the same. I know some people prefer this aesthetic but I find it so much more enjoyable to walk down the streets and see different colors and designs everywhere you look.

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It was too early for any shops to be open, which was fine by me since we didn’t really have time to shop, but Carmel is the sort of place you could easily spend a whole day wandering from store to store and browsing the day away. We walked down to the ocean and took in the views for a bit, making guesses about how close we were to the golf course before jumping in the car and heading back towards Big Sur.

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The drive back through Big Sur was breathtaking and we stopped for lots of photo ops of the beautiful cliffs and scenery along the way.

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There are several areas along Highway 1 where you can pull over and hike down to the beaches which we made sure to take full advantage of. In December it was too cold for swimming but just right for exploring and photographing.

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We planned to have lunch at Pebble Beach so when our croissants started to wear off we turned around and headed back the way we’d come, experiencing all the beautiful views again from the other direction.

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I know Robert had enjoyed our trip up to this point, but Pebble Beach was probably the place he was most looking forward to seeing, and his excitement certainly rubbed off on me as we headed that way! The trip back was much faster and before we knew it we were waiting in line at the gate house. We paid to drive in (I believe it was 10 or 15 dollars) and were supplied with a map of 17 Mile Drive and directions to the clubhouse where we could find lunch.

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Robert was like a kid at Christmas and couldn’t wait to see the course. We got our first glimpse of it immediately after entering the clubhouse and we both agreed the lush greens lived up to their reputation.

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There are several restaurant choices at Pebble Beach and we settled on The Bench, a casual bar and grill with a patio overlooking the 18th hole. There was a short wait, so we did a little souvenir shopping at the various pro shops while we waited for our table.

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Once seated we ordered portobello fries, a mushroom pizza and a cobb salad and enjoyed our drinks and personal fire pit as we watched the golfers finish up their rounds. It was really lovely and a definite must do if you ever get the chance!

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After lunch we decided to follow the map along 17 Mile Drive, a scenic route through Pebble Beach that provides views of several different golf courses and their famous landmarks. My favorite was the Lone Cypress, which has become the official symbol of Pebble Beach.

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Pebble Beach

As the daylight faded we made our way back to the highway and headed for the last leg of our trip, San Francisco!

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