Stay in Carmel for Valentine’s Day
I like to stay in my bubble. I don’t venture out of Carmel too often in my free time. My apartment, my work, the newspaper, my girlfriend’s apartment and Carmel City Hall are all about in a one-mile radius. I have favorite restaurants and stores that are really, really close to me. I can walk if I choose to..
When it comes to a big task such as planning the perfect Valentine’s Day, you can often dread driving all around town to make preparations. Well, I have some tips so you can stay in Carmel and plan a romantic event.
Since Valentine’s does fall on a Sunday, I expect brunch to be a popular option for some, but be sure to get there early. You can find lengthy waits at many local hot spots for Sunday brunch in Carmel. The best options I usually go for are Patachou at Clay Terrace and Bub’s Cafe along the Monon Trail. If you opt for a buffet, Matt the Miller’s Tavern offers a good one at Carmel City Center. Right next door to Matt the Miller’s, Eggshell Bistro offers probably the most creative world-inspired brunch in town and Hubbard and Cravens has awesome frittatas.
Again, since Valentine’s Day is a Sunday, you might want to call ahead to your favorite restaurant to see if it’s open that day since many places are closed on Sundays. I’ve heard of a few local places — mostly lunch spots — that tell me they will remain closed on that day but others, such as my parents’ place, Donatello’s Italian Restaurant, will open special for that night. If you do decide to instead go out on the Friday or Saturday before, please keep in mind most restaurants will probably be busier than usual that night so make your reservations ahead of time.
If you forget to decided and try to make a reservation last minute, the best advice I can give you is to dine early, such as around 5 p.m. or later, such as after 8:30 p.m. and you might avoid the rush and maybe snag a spot.
An alternative to dinner might be enjoying some sweets and tea or coffee. Carmel just launched a Caffeine Trail that features several coffee shops or restaurants with locally roasted or sourced beans. Tina’s Traditional Old English Kitchen, SoHo Cafe & Gallery and Quirky Feather Confectionary are all locally owned and provide the perfect size treat to go along with a warm beverage.
If you are in a hurry to do some present shopping —such as trying to stop somewhere on a lunch break from work — one area I like to hit up is on E. Carmel Drive. Chocolate for the Spirit, McNamara Florists and Vine & Table are all basically in the same shopping center. You can park and then get some chocolates, wine, cheese and flowers in one stop. Although I hear it might be a good idea to place orders for Chocolate for the Spirit ahead of time because they can sell out for the holiday.
I often think it’s cruel that they decided to place Valentine’s Day less than two months after Christmas. Most of us have already used up our good gift ideas in December, so it can be hard to think of places to buy gifts. In the Carmel Arts & Design District, I usually advise people to check out Silver in the City because it has such fun, quirky gift ideas that you would never think of. You could pick up a nice bottle of wine at Peace Water Winery or some olive-oil based soaps and lotions at The Olive Mill, which actually make great gifts. You could cook dinner at home after picking up a nice steak at Joe’s Butcher Shop. And, of course, if there’s a painting your loved one has admired in the Arts District, it does make for a romantic gift.