STAY: Its outstanding location just two blocks from Carmel Beach and within easy walking (or shuttle ride) distance to downtown Carmel isn’t the only thing that sets La Playa Carmel apart. This boutique Spanish-style charmer known as the jewel of Carmel-by-the-Sea has beautiful gardens, an outdoor heated pool, and a tranquil courtyard. Its upper outdoor terrace is a good spot for enjoying a glass of wine with light appetizers (later, take your drink to Carmel Beach for sunset). Rooms have modern amenities with light, airy colors and cottage-style finessing for an ambiance as refreshing as the nearby ocean breeze. Breakfast—including made-to-order omelets and tasty waffles—is included. The lobby’s fireplace is welcoming after an evening out in Carmel. (It’s also pet-friendly.)
EAT: There’s no shortage of fantastic dining in Carmel, but for a reliable bet with options to please everyone, and a terrific patio atmosphere, reserve a spot at The Forge. From the Hawaiian pizza with Canadian bacon to the vegan tray, salmon filet, or the Ménage à Trois (a special petit mignon) there’s going to be something you’ll want to pair with their good wine selection, with half-bottles offered. There’s even a menu for dogs (the Quarter Hounder is sure to put a smile on Fido’s face).