Romantic Carmel, California

Carmel.com's Romance Guide



Carmel is a top destination for affairs of the heart. Romantic interludes, beachside weddings and extravagant Pebble Beach events are just some of the offerings that bring lovers and brides & grooms to the Monterey Peninsula. Whether it be fine dining, a walk on the beach, a day on the golf course, strolling the art galleries, shopping the unique artisan boutiques, or spending the evening in one of Carmel-by-the-Sea's fine inns, hotels or cottages—a trip to Carmel enhances the romantic experience with any combination of special moments.

Carmel hosts many year-round art & wine festivals where local wineries provide wine tasting and local restaurateurs prepare a delicious array of food to sample while wandering the intriguing streets. And for those romancing while enjoying other interests, there are special events such as the AT&T Golf Classic or music events such as the Carmel Bach Festival or the Monterey Jazz Festival, which all attract thousands to the Carmel and Monterey Peninsula. Check the Calendar of Events to find out when festivals and special events are taking place.

Carmel Weddings and Romantic Getaways

Inarguably fantastic as a wedding site, Carmel has been voted one of the top ten wedding destinations seemingly more times than can be counted. Young lovers from around the world come here for their bridal services and beautiful beachside weddings, visiting local couturiers for beautiful dresses and designer cake bakeries. For the latest information on Carmel weddings, check out Carmel.com’s special Wedding Directory.

During the holidays, many hotels offer specials and 'Romance & Spa' packages that are extremely popular for couples of every ilk. These unique deals can include golf, dining, tours, whale watching, kayaking, wine tasting, horseback riding and many more special adventures for two. For golf enthusiasts, Carmel's inns and hotels also offer spa and room packages complete with golf and dining.

The Bernardus Lodge is considered one of the ultimate destinations for unparalleled luxury and romance in Carmel. This elegant lodge not only boasts pampering amenities and special services; its history as a "Best of Carmel" winner for food & wine events also makes it a prime choice for Carmel Valley "wine weddings." Their wine tasting room and winery is just down the road and well worth the walk along the vineyard-laden roads.

Carmel's favorite for a French-flavored wine wedding or anniversary event is Chateau Julien, located a short drive down Carmel Valley Road. This wine estate has a beautiful tasting room and reception area with a "Cask Room" for private weddings or romantic events; travelers should be sure and check out their seasonal wine & dining events, as they are popular attractions for foodies.

Getting Romantic in Carmel

Enjoying the romantic side of Carmel can be as easy as starting with the obvious things. Couples seeking the quintessential romantic experience can take a sunset trip along Scenic Drive or take off their shoes and dig their toes into the white sands of Carmel beach at the end of Ocean Avenue. (If pets are in tow, check with the hotel about bringing them—most beaches are pet friendly). Carmel's beach is also filled with wonderful secluded picnic spots where couples can find privacy and a breathtaking view. Local restaurants will accommodate with a first class picnic basket stuffed with gourmet goodies and complete with local wines.

A walk from the village along the canyon to the Mission Basilica is a wonderfully magical and romantic adventure. Winding through the forested canyon down Junipero Avenue, to the restored San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission founded in 1771 by Junipero Serra, is well worth the hike. The Mission is the site of Carmel festivals (like the Bach Festival), concerts, religious services, weddings and events. This historical site overlooks the valley and Carmel's river, beach and beyond. Tours of the Old Mission are offered, and just a walk through the doors of the Basilica takes one back to the Spanish and Indian heritage of Carmel's past.

Walking the one square mile of Carmel village is definitely a highlight of visiting this magical beachside resort. Couples can stroll through art galleries, boutiques and specialty shops, looking for a unique purchase or just enjoying works of art created by local artists. Another romantic daytime activity is a visit to the renowned Monterey Aquarium and the Monterey Wharf.

Sunset cocktails in front of the roaring fireplace outside on the patio at the Mission Ranch, overlooking Carmel River Beach and the meadows, are a surefire start to a romantic evening. Whether couples decide to stay for dinner or return later for their evening jazz, this sleek little hotspot is a favorite for locals and visitors.

Once the sun is going down, couples can choose from a wonderful variety of dining experiences for a romantic repast. A fine Country French experience can be enjoyed at Casanova Restaurant where ambiance, fine food and wine are at their exceptional best. Couples lucky enough to reserve the "Van Gogh" table will sit where the famous artist spent his later years dining and enjoying friends.

Another perfect setting for enjoying evening cocktails, the patio at Il Fornaio is alluring with a view of the ocean and the scent of Carmel's pines. Seated in their windowed alcove room, couples can also enjoy an intimate dinner snuggled into one of their comfortable booths. Select from a fine menu of authentic Italian cuisine with exceptional desserts to top off a romantic evening.

Films in the Forest Theatre are also a favorite romantic pastime. With a blanket, a gourmet feast, a fine bottle of wine and each other, it's easy to enjoy the fireside ambiance and great classics shown on the outdoor screen as the ultimate Carmel-by-the-Sea evening in the woods. Once the film is over, couples can take walk on the moonlit beach to top off an evening in paradise before retiring to the comforts of their Carmel hotel or inn.

Top Ten Romantic Things to Do in Carmel:

  1. A stroll on the beach with a loved one.
  2. Drinks at Mission Ranch overlooking Carmel River Beach.
  3. Doggie Cocktail hour or high tea at the Cypress Inn.
  4. A cruise down '17-mile Drive' in Pebble Beach.
  5. Dinner and drinks at Marinus Restaurant at the world-class Bernardus Lodge located in the verdant Carmel Valley, a short drive from Carmel village.
  6. Sunset cocktails in the Lounge at Highland's Inn, dramatically overlooking the Carmel Highlands oceanfront cliffs — you can even feel the spray of the ocean on the deck outside.
  7. Shopping for that special piece of art or jewelry.
  8. Appetizers and a fine wine tasting at Bouchee Bistro, followed by a romantic Italian dinner at Lucca culminating in desert and nightcap at your luxury suite at L'Auberge Carmel.
  9. Take a cozy blanket, a gourmet picnic and a bottle of wine to the Forest Theatre for an outdoor classic film.
  10. A day of wine tasting, spa treatments and maybe a round of golf or finishing, all topped off with a fabulous dinner and overnight stay at one of many unique hotels, inns or cottages in Carmel.

Romantic Carmel, California

Carmel.com's Romance Guide