Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the most charming coastal cities in California, is turning 100 this year. Although the region dates back to the 1770s, Carmel wasn’t officially incorporated as a city until October 31, 1916. To commemorate the occasion, the city is throwing a centennial celebration with a parade on Saturday, October 29.
For decades, Carmel has attracted creatives — artists, writers, poets and actors. Clint Eastwood calls the area home and was even once the mayor of Carmel. It’s an exceptionally dog-friendly city, and most of the hotels and boutiques welcome furry mascots.
In addition to the area’s inclusive character, its beautiful beaches, cool climate and natural scenery make Carmel a stunning destination. In honor of the platinum jubilee, we’re highlighting what’s haute in Carmel right now.
Spend an afternoon exploring the shops along Ocean Avenue. Anthropologie, Tommy Bahama and Tiffany and Co. are but a few of the big-name brands with boutiques in Carmel. Girl Boy Girl is a beloved shop filled with luxe fashion from contemporary designers like Ulla Johnson, Veronica Beard, Isabel Marant, and Rag and Bone. Girl Boy Girl’s sister shop, Paloosh, is also worth a visit.
Fragrance fanatics must stop by Ajne, a perfumery that creates custom essential oils and scents. Here the concept of a signature scent is taken to a whole new level: Choose from over 300 different plant ingredients to make a personalized fragrance.
Search for vintage treasures at Hildegunn Hawley Antiques, check out the gorgeous floral design work of Michael Merritt at Twigery and browse the shelves at Pilgrim’s Way Community Bookstore, a shop that’s been serving the Carmel community for 50 years.
The Restaurant at Mission Ranch is a wonderful place to enjoy a leisurely meal with unparalleled views of both green fields with sheep grazing and the Pacific Ocean. A piano bar with live music ensures that the atmosphere is festive, and a corner fireplace keeps things cozy. Order a glass of wine and braised short ribs, then keep an eye out for owner Clint Eastwood, who frequently dines at the eatery.
At Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Aubergine, the signature Four-Star restaurant L’Auberge Carmel serves innovative, ingredient-driven cuisine in eight-course tasting menus that change daily. Chef Justin Cogley exceptionally upscale fare and spectacular service make for an unforgettable experience. The dishes aren’t named; instead, the ingredients are simply listed: oyster, seawater, caviar and milk-fed pork, carrot, honey. It sounds abstract, but trust us: It’s wildly delicious.
For another culinary experience, be transported to the European countryside at La Bicyclette. This tiny kitchen is run by the Georis family, a group who’s been in the Carmel restaurant business since 1974. The all-day eatery serves up wood-fired eggs for breakfast, quinoa salad with roasted mushrooms and red grapes for lunch, and local king salmon with braised leeks for dinner. They also have pizza, cheese, charcuterie and an interesting wine list.
If you want to stay in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea during the centennial celebration, book a room at The Hideaway, a new hotel from Gavin Newsom’s PlumpJack Group. In honor of the milestone, The Hideaway is offering a sip-and-stay package that includes a bottle of the extremely limited 2013 PlumpJack Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which received 100 points from leading wine critic Robert Parker, and a complimentary tasting for two at the PlumpJack winery.
Looking for something a little more scenic? Reserve a villa or suite at Four-Star Bernardus Lodge and Spa. The resort has opened 14 new villas and suites with private outdoor sanctuaries, butler services, alfresco showers, radiant heat floors and vaulted ceilings. Don’t forget to pack your sneakers and swimsuit: There are two pools, a bocce court, and hiking and biking trails on the campus. The hotel sits on 28 pristine acres of vineyards, orchards and lavender fields, the perfect environment for an intoxicating escape.