Explore the top 10 things to do in Carmel-by-the Sea, a charming, romantic seaside resort with fairy-tale houses. It is a memorable getaway any time of the year. Explore the many quaint streets, courtyards, passageways, shops, restaurants and art galleries or walk on trails and beaches. The city is great for foodies and is rated “one of America’s top beach towns”.
Top 10 things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea
- Picnic on the beach or in the park.
- Stroll on the sandy Carmel Beach next to the Pacific Ocean.
- Take a walk along the scenic Bluff Path for majestic views of California’s rugged coastline and beautiful beaches.
- Shop at the many boutiques and specialty shops.
- Visit the Farmers’ Market on Thursdays.
- Explore the many Art Galleries.
- Discover unique passageways and charming courtyards.
- Carmel Mission is a registered National Historic Landmark and is still an active parish. There are five museums to visit at the mission.
- Go on your own wine tasting tour. There are 18 wine tasting rooms to try premium wines from the region. Here is a handy map.
- Locate all of Hugh Comstock’s fairy-tale houses built in the 1920s on your own historic walking tour or take the Annual Carmel Home and Garden Tour put on by the Carmel Heritage Society.
- View more photos of Carmel.
Where to dine in Carmel-by-the Sea
There are so many incredible restaurants to choose from and we had to narrow our selection. These are our top choices during our stay.
We dined at cozy PortaBella restaurant on Ocean Avenue, where they serve wonderful French and Italian cuisine.
Dametra Cafe is a highly popular, lively place located on Ocean and Lincoln. They serve fresh flavourful Mediterranean food. Reservations should be made weeks in advance but there are a few walk-ins available. We did not make a reservation and after registering our name we waited an hour for a table.
The authentic Italian Deli Salumeria Luca is the perfect place to pick up all the fixings needed for a picnic on the beach. There is a good selection in the gourmet market and bakery. Bottles of wine are also available. We picked up grilled panini, a small salami plate, two cannoli, a bottle of wine and paper cups.
Where to stay in Carmel-by-the Sea
We were very happy staying at The Normandy Inn. This welcoming historic inn built in 1921 is located conveniently in the old town area on Ocean Avenue. It is just three blocks from sandy Carmel Beach on the Pacific Ocean. The Normandy Inn is reasonably priced. The French style inn’s rate included complementary breakfast in their cafe. A glass of sherry and freshly baked cookies available by the inviting fireplace. We planned to stay one night, but loved it so much we were able to extend the stay to three nights.
Find out about other accommodations in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
- Clint Eastwood was Carmel’s mayor from 1986-1988.
- The Pine Inn is Carmel’s oldest hotel built in 1902.
- Doris Day co-owned the Cypress Inn built in 1928.
- Carmel Mission was founded in 1771.
- The Hog’s Breath Inn was once owned by Clint Eastwood.
- Collector cars fill the streets of Carmel in August. Check the latest dates for this popular 10-day Monterey Peninsula event.
Top things to do near Carmel-by-the-Sea
- 17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach Golf Course.
- Picnic on the beaches with incredible views.
- Monterey’s Cannery Row.
- Pebble Beach, famous for its golf course.
- Big Sur’s iconic California coastline. Check for local road conditions before heading out on a drive. Go an hour south to Big Sur to search the skies for one of the largest flying birds, the California Condor.
- The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove is where thousands of butterflies migrate to spend winter from October to February.
- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to 36 species of marine mammals. You can spot three types of whales; orca, humpback or gray. Porpoises and dolphins are also visible, depending on the season.
Bring some warm clothing to protect against the changing temperatures and chilly winds off the ocean. Comfortable walking shoes are also a must.
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