Thanks to some great advice here on the message board, I promised to let you know how things went. We stayed at the Normandy Inn as advised and it was so perfect for what we were looking for. We booked the delux fireplace room with the extra dressing area, and the extra space was very appreciated. WE did not think that we would use the fireplace, but it got a lot colder at night than I had anticipated. We burned the log mostly for ambiance, in our cozy comfy room. It had a very comfortable bed and pillows, with a cathedral ceiling. The Inn itself was so pretty wtih all the flowers and plants, and the location is right on the main street, amongst the shops and restaurants.
We just loved Carmel with the cute cottage buildings, quaint shops and art galleries, and not to mention the multitude of restaurants. WE ate at Nico's, Basil, and Jack London for dinner. For breakfast the hotel serves a contential breakfast, but it was very basic with weak coffee, and mostly carbs. We then went to Em Lee's , and it was wonderful.
WE drove to Big Sur and were just wowed by the scenery. One of the staff members at the Normandy Inn advised us to stop at Nepenthe for lunch, and it was the best advise. We stopped and had lunch and it was a highlight of our trip. Nepenthe is on the top of a hill with a restaurant with panoramic views. Breathtaking!!!! Great photo stop if you do not feel like having lunch. We did a few hikes, and really observed the temperature change inland. What a difference, from cold to hot.
The next day we did 17 mile drive, but I wished I had done the 17 mile drive before going to Big Sur. It just did not compare after Big Sur. We went to the Aquarium, wich was vey interesting, but very crowded, then on to Cannery row. We spent 3 days in Carmel, and I am so glad that we did. We origionally were booked for Monterey, but I am so glad we switched. To us, Carmel was so much prettier, and we loved being able to just walk around. After Carmel we drove up to the Napa Valley. California is so beautiful.