Planning a Mini-Moon in Carmel or Big Sur

Thinking of doing a little mini-moon after your wedding here in the Monterey Peninsula? Then you’ve come to the right spot! Whether you choose to go to Monterey, Carmel Valley, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach or Big Sur, you’ve picked a beautiful spot to mini moon in.

First, you may be asking, what is a mini moon? A mini moon is a shorter, staycation type honeymoon. A mini moon is usually shorter than a week and takes place right after the wedding. 

If you decide to get married here in the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, then we have some great places for you to mini moon in, as well as some wonderful restaurants to try and great sights to explore.

Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, Captured by AGS Photo Art

Places to stay

Carmel-by-the-Sea is full of wonderful places to stay at for your mini moon, but these are a couple of our favorites:

Mission Ranch: Clint Eastwood’s 22-acre ranch resort has spectacular views of Carmel River Beach, Point Lobos, and the Pacific Ocean.

Cypress Inn: Owned by the legendary Doris Day. It’s also a dog lover’s paradise! Bring your pooch and have a cocktail during “Yappy Hour.” 

Tickle Pink Inn– Overlooking the famous Big Sur coastline, Tickle Pink Inn sits on the original home site of State Senator Edward and Mrs. Bess Tickle. It has luxurious rooms and suites.

If you are looking for larger style resorts, then Carmel Valley is where you want to stay. A few of our favorites in Carmel Valley are:

Bernardus Lodge & Spa: Easily one of my favorite resorts! Can we just say this is the best resort in the west (imho). This is where elegant rustic charm meets sophisticated accommodations. And it’s the perfect venue for a romantic wine-country wedding. 

Other great places you can check out are Carmel Valley Ranch, Quail Lodge or many of the smaller independently owned places up and down Carmel Valley!

Monterey is a charming city that sits right on the Monterey Bay.

InterContinental Monterey If you want to be in the heart of Cannery Row, the InterContinental Monterey is your place. 

Hyatt Regency– Located on a golf course with a popular sports bar.

One thing that’s worth noting is that Monterey is NOT an excellent option for short-term rentals. Most rentals require a minimum of 7 days, so most people opt for a hotel.

Pebble Beach

The Inn at Spanish Bay-Whether you want to enjoy a round of golf or a walk on the sandy beaches, this place has a little something for everyone.

The Lodge– Stay and play a round of golf and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Casa Palmero– A memorable, romantic California hideaway. 

Couple near the Bixby Bride in Big Sur, Captured by the DeLauras

Big Sur

Big Sur is about 40-50 minutes south of Carmel, its really cliffs on one side of Highway 1 and then forest and redwoods on the other. It has been called the greatest meeting of land and sea throughout history and is an incredible getaway you shouldn’t miss!

Big Sur Lodge– If you want to unplug and unwind, this is the place for you.

Glen Oaks– First choice, especially if you don’t want a luxury price tag.

Post Ranch– Sitting high on top of the hills of Big Sur, you’ll be in awe of the views. The ultimate lux experience.

Ventana– Second in lux experience. An adults only, inclusive (all meals) spa. It is a little larger and a little less “right on the cliff” but also incredible. Offer a little more “experiences” compared to Post Ranch.

Big Sur River Inn– Big Sur’s first hotel and restaurant.

Treebones– If you are wanting more wilderness and want to try a yurt, then this is a good place to try.

Places to eat

Hungry? There are plenty of restaurants to pick from to sip some wine and enjoy a good bite to eat. Whether you want something from a bakery or a nice steak dinner, there are plenty of options to pick from.

Spicy Margarita captured by Shannon Cronin Photography


7th and Dolores – A delicious, but expensive steakhouse.

Vesuvio – Owned by Carmel’s local celeb chef Pepe (cool rooftop).

Mission Ranch – Clint Eastwood’s place and GREAT brunch.

Stationaery – A local favorite.

Rise and Roam – Bakery with great bread, pizza, and pastries. 

Dutch Door Donuts – Yum!

Carmel Valley

Corkscrew Cafe – My favorite spot. A leisure lunch here, followed by wine tasting at Cowgirl, is my ideal afternoon off.

Bear + Flag Roadside – Led by Chef Todd Fisher (also associated with 7th & Dolores, Rise + Roam, and Folktale Winery). Try the smoked tri-tip sandwiches and ready-made salads. Perfect if you are on the go and need something quick but amazing! 

Trailside Cafe– Great for brunch.

One of the best things about Carmel Valley is being able to go and enjoy local tasting rooms. Some of them even have some great food to enjoy so you can sip wine, have a bite to eat and talk about the beautiful wedding you just had.

Folktale Winery – Amazing food, good wine.

Bernardus – Great local wine (make sure you have the tasting room and not the hotel) 

Cowgirl Winery– Good pizza to pair with your local wine.


Alta Bakery for Breakfast. We highly recommend the avocado toast and their pastries. The line may be long, but worth it.

LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle– Another great breakfast spot on the pier with the biggest pancakes you’ve ever seen.

Montrio Bistro– The Montrio Bistro is fine dining right in the heart of Monterey.

Stokes Adobe– A new and very popular! Set in the beautiful and historic adobe home.

Pebble Beach

The Bench at The Lodge– Overlook the 18th hole at Pebble Beach golf course.

Roys at Spanish Bay– High end Hawaiian fusion.

Hays Place at Lodge– Casual Mexican inspired menu.

Porters in the forest at Poppy Hills golf club– Farm to table menu.

Big Sur

The Sur House– Breakfast and Dinner are 18+.

Big Sur Bakery– Open everyday except Tuesdays.

Coast Big Sur– Picnic inspired menu.

Big Sur River Inn Restaurant– Dine right along the river.

Hyatt Highlands Pacific Edge– Not technically Big Sur, but this place makes for an amazing sunset meal!

Where to shop

Ready to hit the town as newlyweds and go shopping? Here are some great local shops to check out.

Carmel-by-the-Sea has a little bit of everything for everyone. From art galleries, to specialty shops, CBTS is packed with places to check out.

Carmel Valley has a main shopping center called the Village, which is the “Downtown” of CV. If you are looking for great gifts and souvenirs, then check out a local favorite,  Tancredi and Morgen.

Monterey has some of the best stores around three of the most popular spots in Monterey: Alvarado Street, Lighthouse Avenue, and Cannery Row.

Things to Do

In Carmel-by-the-Sea, visit the famous white sand, dog-friendly beach. If you’re the active sort,  take a beautiful hike to Point Lobos, take a walking tour of Carmel, or head south to view the cliffs towards Big Sur.

Are you someone who likes a bit of history? Drive the historic 17-miles through Pebble Beach. Love plants, farming or interested in learning more about all the produce that is grown in the area visit Earthbound Organic Farm.

Want a relaxing day at the spa? Try the Refuge Co-ed Outdoor Spa for a day of couple time and relaxation. 

One must see is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Its worth a visit for people of all ages. 

Want to take a nice, romantic walk along the beach? Try the recreation trail from Monterey to Pebble Beach.

One local place in Big Sur I love to waste an afternoon at is COAST. It’s not far from the iconic Pfeiffer Beach, which is a must see!

No matter where you choose to mini moon, There are so many places to enjoy beautiful hikes, try local taste rooms, shop, eat incredible good or just relax on the beach.

Congrats on being newlyweds, we hope you enjoy your first adventure as a married couple.

Photo of sunset in Carmel Valley captured by Zha Zha Photography

If you want more recommendations, or want help planning your big day, contact Pocketful of Plans.

If you want to check out some of our other blogs on places to eat, shop and stay, check out our Carmel blog, our Monterey blog or our blog on the Monterey Peninsula

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