A Very Carmel Anniversary

This post is sponsored by Hyatt Carmel Highlands.

Every year when our anniversary rolls around I think about a million different gifts or gestures that I could do to try to show my appreciation for the wonderful husband that I have. I think about the years that we’ve spent together, both married and unmarried, and I’m so thankful that I’ve had him as a partner in life for over a decade now. This year I chose to return to the places we spent the best day of our life at, and today I’m sharing it all with you, from packing to adventuring and beyond.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, a romantic guide to spending 36 hours in Carmel, California. A Very Carmel Anniversary, a romantic guide to spending 36 hours in Carmel, California.

Our anniversary getaway was a little last-minute, but I wanted to retrace some of the steps we took on our wedding day. We planned to visit China Cove in Point Lobos and snap some photos in the same spot that we had our wedding photos done, then head to the hotel we were married at, and enjoy dinner by the same chef who did our wedding night meal. The next morning I hoped to go hiking at one of my favorite spots near Santa Cruz, the Forest of Nisene Marks.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, what I packed for a quick romantic getaway in Carmel, California. A Very Carmel Anniversary, what I packed for a quick romantic getaway in Carmel, California.

Though this trip was short, we had quite a few activities planned, so I wanted to pack a little something for each. I wore casual outfits for our hiking & exploring, but packed a dress and heels for our anniversary dinner. I also packed a little something special for later in the evening, because why not? Sometimes it feels nice to change outfits often while traveling, it makes it feel a little more special.

Shop my Carmel packing list:

A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.
A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.
A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, visiting Point Lobos during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

Point Lobos State Park
We took our wedding photos here at China Cove in 2009 and it’s a complete dream. It’s a small white sand cove with turquoise waters and is an easy hike from the parking area. I found out a few years ago that the cove had been closed for natural restoration, but wasn’t sure when it would re-open. Upon entering the park I was informed that it is closed permanently, and now is home to many harbor seals and their babies. Although we couldn’t go down to the cove, we had fun exploring the rest of the park.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
62 California 1
Carmel-By-The-Sea, California 93923

A Very Carmel Anniversary, staying at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, staying at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.
A Very Carmel Anniversary, staying at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, staying at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, staying at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands
We hold a special place in our hearts for this hotel, as it’s the one we got married at! While we are celebrating our 8th anniversary this year, they are celebrating their 100th! We were married here in 2009 and have returned several times more for special milestones. The room we stayed in this time was a two-story townhouse, and as all of their other rooms, it did not disappoint. We ate dinner at the famed Pacific’s Edge and enjoyed a quiet evening in our room after the sun went down.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands
120 Highlands Drive
Carmel, California 93923

A Very Carmel Anniversary, dinner at the Pacific's Edge during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, dinner at the Pacific's Edge during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.
A Very Carmel Anniversary, dinner at the Pacific's Edge during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, dinner at the Pacific's Edge during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

California Market at Pacific’s Edge
This was our third time eating food from here, and it is far from our last. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or maybe it’s the stunning ocean views, but I’d like to return to this place more often than my wallet can afford, ha. For starters I enjoyed crispy brussel sprouts with kimchi, toasted hazelnuts, and dulse seaweed followed by a main of boneless beef short ribs with stout vegetables and local mushrooms.

I’ve been dreaming of eating it again ever since. I am always equally impressed by the service at this restaurant as I am the food, but I was especially delighted that our server paid special attention to my food allergy. He was very careful and intuitive when pointing out dishes that I can eat without worry, and even pointed out that they use a lot of almond and coconut bases to avoid exposing their guests to dairy.

For dessert I enjoyed a hazelnut coconut tarte that was both dairy-free and delicious. I topped it off with an almond-milk latte which is almost a delicacy when I travel, haha. After taking our time with our meal, we enjoyed the sunset as it’s last rays slipped over the horizon.

California Market at Pacific’s Edge Restaurant
120 Highlands Drive
Carmel, California 93923

A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.
A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.
A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review. A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

A Very Carmel Anniversary, hiking at the Forest of Nisene Marks during our romantic 36 hour getaway in Carmel, California. Includes my packing list, itinerary, and hotel review.

The Forest of Nisene Marks
I have visited this park before during a different trip with my little ones, so I knew how magical it feels to hike around the redwoods and wanted to share that with my husband as well. We chose to hike a little different trail, but I’m not awesome at following the hiking map so we ended up a little lost.

After getting back on track I learned that the Advocate tree had fallen during the winter storms. It was a bit of a loss since the tree was well over a thousand years old and stood at over 200 feet tall. I’m happy to have been able to visit it when it was in it’s upright position. There are new seedlings starting to grow now from it’s roots, so I’m looking forward to visiting those in a few years time.

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Aptos Creek Road,
Aptos, California 95003

Tips for making a wedding anniversary getaway special.

Tips for making an Anniversary Trip Special

  1. Plan ahead.
    Obviously, a trip like this requires some foresight. I didn’t want anything to come between us and having the perfect anniversary getaway, so I booked the hotel ahead of time, made dinner reservations, checked open hours and prices for everything, etc.
  2. Schedule plenty of downtime.
    Part of planning ahead is not scheduling everything to a T, but to leave some downtime so that the trip doesn’t feel rushed or hurried. The trip won’t be enjoyable if you don’t have time to enjoy it, so schedule loosely! The only rigid item on our schedule was our dinner reservation for approximately 2 hours before sunset.
  3. Think of the little things.
    Think of any special details you can do to make your trip extra special for your significant other. I thought about scheduling a couples massage for us, but with how short our trip was, there wasn’t much time. I did, however, pack the same lingerie that I wore from our wedding night as a little surprise.
  4. Document it well!
    Don’t just take your camera phone to document your getaway. Take a real camera and be sure to take a photo together. We took the dronie below (with permission from the hotel manager) in the exact spot we were married 8 years ago. Huzzah!

Do you do anything special for your anniversary or have anniversary traditions? Tell me about them!

Thank you so much to Hyatt Carmel Highlands for sponsoring this post. We’ve been in love with the place since we were married there in 2009. And thank you, my readers, for helping to support the sponsors that help make life here a little sweeter.

Drone photos, video, and photos of Jessica by Steve Doll for Hej Doll.

8 thoughts on “A Very Carmel Anniversary

  1. What a truly lovely post. I love the Hyatt as well. And the location? Simply beautiful. As a keen hiker, I would have really enjoyed that scenic wonder. Loved your photos and the drone shot at the end was just magic. Congratulations to you both for such a successful relationship and wonderful anniversary.

  2. I have to say, I’m always so amazed at how many different climates and environments California has. It’s incredible! I’ve only spent a week there in my adult life, and I’m aching to go back!

  3. Carmel is stunning. One of our favorite vacation spots and oh so beautiful! Plus its so relaxing!

  4. This is such a lovely post! I really like all the photo shots. Makes me want to go and create a memorable anniversary with my hubby. Carmel Highland is where I want to be!

  5. What a lovely anniversary! I love the idea of celebrating each year, we are heading up on two year here but we have been through more than I can imagine. I think we should make our two year special, because on our one year anniversary (right before it) he got hurt and was in a wheelchair, unable to walk for MONTHS …. we deserve to celebrate rising above that and making it on the other side. Few have to deal with pushing their partner around in a wheel chair who can’t walk so early on in a relationship! I love your style of clothing and shoes here too, must get some for our next special date!

  6. The scenery is fantastic! I love the cove and that field of wild flowers. I love your idea of a wedding anniversary get-away. I might copy this idea and get a much needed R&R with my husband!

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