Saturday, May 5, 2012

California Weekends- What to Pack for Carmel and Monterey

We are off on a little getaway to Carmel to celebrate my husband"s birthday. I'm so excited.

Carmel Beach

Carmel is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet and I am so fortunate to live here in Northern California and be so close. When I say Carmel, I also mean the whole Monterey Peninsula area. That encompasses Carmel by the Sea, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel Valley in the hills to the East.

We are staying in the warm and sunny Carmel Valley, but will most likely end up at some point in the foggier and cooler town of Carmel, too. For this reason I need to pack for two climates! Seriously, I kid you not . If you don't believe me try spending a day in town here and you will see how many Carmel sweatshirts are sold to tourists. It's not unusual to see winter coats and sweaters worn here especially during summer time!! Carmel Valley, up the road about 20 minutes from Carmel is a warm wine region and not unlike Napa and Sonoma. So you really have to think before packing.

J Crew

Carmel is a cosmopolitan place where people dress very well, but casual. Carmel Valley tends to be a horsier set where as Carmel by the Sea, is a little more luxe. Monterey where the aquarium and Cannery Row are, is super casual.

Bottom line...This is the capital of casual chic. People dress well, even though they are dressed down.

What to pack for a weekend in Carmel and Monterey. . .

White jeans. Even in winter. They look great with heavy sweaters and pea coats.

This may be the most perfect Carmel outfit. via Vogue.

Alternatively, very cute camo or printed jeans.

Atlantic-Pacific blog

Blue jeans.

 Button down shirt in white or denim for day. Great for layering with chunky sweaters. Can also double a a cover-up by the pool if it's longer.

 Comfy flats. I always have a pair of ballet flats and a cute pair of tennis shoes like converse.

Flip flops for the pool or beach. I have pair of Tory Burch that have lasted three years. For the $45 they make everything look chic. Great to wear to the spa or breakfast as well.

One pair of heeled sandals or pumps for evenings when you feel like dressing up. I particularly love wedges for summer like these from Coach. Small heeled pumps are pretty to pack too. Streets are hilly in Carmel by the sea. You want to save heels for dinner and wear flats.

Cozy cardigan or wrap for cool days and around the room as a robe over your night clothes. A hoody in cashmere is also perfect for that and layering!

Another perfect for Carmel look- Minus the heels though.

Even warmer light quilted or puffer jacket, moto jacket, blazer or trench to layer.

Swimsuit. I always prefer a tankini or a bikini with a rash guard to layer.

Cute cover-up, hat and tote for the pool or spa if there is one.

For dinners dress warmly. Almost all evenings are cool in Carmel, once the fog rolls in.  A pretty blouse paired with black pants or even a soft sweater is the norm.

Love this black pant/sweater. from Emerson Fry. Add a low pump and it's chic + warm for dinner.

A chunky cable-knit or similar sweater. Cute with shorts- or jeans, depending on the day.

One casual skirt or shorts should the weather turn warm. One of my favorite looks is shorts and a long-sleeved T or sweater. Perfect for places by the coast where the weather is sunny yet cool.

One handbag that can go from day to night. A cross-body could do double duty.

Cozy pants and soft T-shirt for lounging around the room. PJs could also work. I do like to have something cute and warm with me to wear to breakfast without getting dressed for the day yet.
No sloppy sweats, but yoga pants or leggings and a wrap sweater could work with a soft T. Add boots to your leggings and a swingy sweater and you have an outfit...

Boots are worn year-round in Carmel. I didn't have mine with me last August and was mad I didn't pack them. All the girls wear them it's so cold. 

Most importantly, accessories! I bring a few bracelets, wear my favorite necklace, bring a another chunky  necklace or fun earrings for night.  I like to have options. Sunglasses are so important! You may want a cute hat for beach walks. A soft scarf is mandatory here. Do not leave home without one. Winds can be cold!

This sweater- furry scarf combo may be perfect for foggy days.

Here's some more inspiration. Any of these would be perfect for a day in Carmel or Monterey...

Don't forget magazines along with a great read for the pool side (or by the fire, in Carmel!)

I hope this list helps you pack if anyone is going to the Monterey- Carmel area or even a getaway in a cooler climate!


Carmel photos northerncalstyle. Fashion pics via my Pinterest Boards The California Look and Thinking About Fall Already.


  1. Thanks for all the tips Kim. I will be visiting Carmel and whole Monterey peninsula in the summer. Now I know what to pack - for sure I will bring my white Capri pants and some shorts too. Have a lovely trip!

  2. Kim!!! Where have you been all my life!!! I could use this type of advice for everyday! :-)

  3. Kim,

    I'm loving this post! Carmel is one of our favorite vacation spots. The 17 mile drive is something everyone should see. You choice of clothes is perfect! Love those coach sandals and Kate Moss has the perfect pair of shorts on matched up with that tee and blazer! Lots of pretty color in your options and glad to had a fun getaway.


  4. Perfect choices. Have fun on your get away!

  5. You have chosen some fabulous pieces! Hope you enjoy your trip:)

  6. Thanks everyone for you kind comments! I really appreciate it.


  7. Carmel by the sea is one of the most beautiful places I have ever laid eyes on. I couldn't believe those idyllically placed little houses with the ocean lapping right at the bottom of their street.
    I really adore that cover up, I'm completely lacking in beach wear.

  8. Wow how beautiful that first photo is! I can tell how long it took to do this post! I love your style! Enjoy every minute :)

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  10. You are really speaking my language! Talitha Getty and striped shirts—I am SO ready for a vacation now.

    kim |

  11. I've only been to Carmel beach and the valley looks gorgeous, someone told me about a yoga retreat up there with monks where you're actually also allowed to drink - but then you wouldn't get to wear that fab floral blouse.

  12. Oh lucky, lucky you - I'd love to go to Carmel! My daughter went to Monterey a few years back and says its the best place in the world! I love your outfits and I think you've got all bases beautifully covered there (is packing too much really such a bad thing? I'm sure your own Mr. Big is only too happy to cart your bags around LOL!) - have a lovely time and I can't wait to see your photos! xxx

  13. You are going to have all of the perfect things...chic and casual. Adore the Tory Burch tunic!!

  14. LOVELY PICS:) I really like your blog and I want to follow, do you have twitter or FB??

    If you want some swedish decor inspiration, you can check out my blog:)
    Have a great week.

    LOVE Maria at

  15. Loved this. I googled what to wear in Carmel in February and your blog popped up. I've been pinning my heart out. Love your style sense and timely suggestions. So glad I found your post. Great blog.

  16. So glad I happened upon your blog! I am lucky enough to call the Peninsula home (we live in Pebble Beach) and you captured our "style" perfectly!!!

  17. Stumbled across your blog post! We're heading to Carmel this weekend and I was short on wardrobe ideas. Thank you!! Wouldn't have thought to pack my boots, but definitely will now! Yay!

  18. Thank you! We are going to Carmel tomorrow for a few days to escape SF. These outfits are heaven! You have great style!