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Monterey County, CA: Picture perfect Carmel-by-the-Sea, Part 1

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As you make plans for a weekend getaway, keep this in mind: Carmel is a quick drive south (just over two hours). For those with an appetite for some of the best wine tasting and gastronomic treasures around, it’s time to get going.

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Recently, my husband and I stayed in beautiful properties and enjoyed the verdant region with its knock-out views. Carmel is one of the pet friendliest towns around. It’s a charming enclave, home to shopping, galleries, cafés and a captivating beach.

Stay: Located coast side in the exclusive 17-Mile Drive, The Inn at Spanish Bay is part of the luxe Pebble Beach Resorts. Whether in your room, the sprawling lobby lounge or outside on the patio by the fire pits, the views never end – the Pacific Ocean, stunning sunsets, gorgeous golf course or towering Monterey pines in the Del Monte Forest –all are heavenly!

The design (both inside and out) is contemporary with clean lines. The spacious rooms have fireplaces, marble baths, private patios and the latest high tech amenities.

Nestled in downtown Carmel, L’Auberge Carmel is a serene French country oasis. This Relais and Châteaux offers charming accommodations in a boutique setting. The landscaped courtyard is awash in bright flora. Each of the twenty rooms is distinctive; all boast rich fabrics, warm interiors and large bathrooms (some with soaking tubs).

A scrumptious breakfast is included with your room (fresh fruit and juices; eggs made the way you want them; homemade pastries and jam).

Dine: Breakfast at Katy’s Place is a treasure. The casual restaurant has country décor, ample outdoor tables and boasts the largest breakfast menu on the West Coast. The service is friendly and the portions are big. From the numerous choices of eggs Benedict, we selected the lobster – rich and delicious with perfect poached eggs and flavorful Hollandaise with a must-have side of corned beef hash.

Patisserie Boissiere, a Carmel tradition, offers rustic French cuisine in this enchanting restaurant with cozy seating areas, warm colors and beautiful fireplace. Don’t miss the French onion soup with melted Swiss cheese. Castroville artichokes and chilled prawns are a star as a starter. Choose from a number of salads and sandwiches – some on home made croissants or brioche. Servings are large so absolutely save room for dessert (it is a French patisserie after all). The wine walk helped eliminate calories from layers of coffee custard, whipped cream and chocolate cake soaked in espresso.

Dinner at L’Aubergine, the intimate restaurant in L’Auberge Carmel is memorable. The menu is inspired by the seasonal ingredients delivered by local farmers and passionately prepared by Chef Justin Cogley. You will be wowed with courses like sable fish, napa cabbage and oyster emulsion; Dungeness crab with pear and elderflower vinegar and the chocolate cream. Pair with a wine from their international list.

OTHER ESSENTIALS:
Special Events: Monterey Wine Festival (June 6-8, /); Monterey Beer Festival (June 14th, www.); 33rd Annual Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout (June 1-2,)
Carmel Visitors Bureau; Monterey County Visitors Bureau; Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association

PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb

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