Carmel-by-the-Sea Top Attractions and Things to See
Carmel by the Sea Sightseeing Attraction
This quaint seaside village of Carmel is the ideal place to get a taste of the Northern California coast’s quaint seaside culture. Carmel-by-the-Sea will surely charm you with its cute shops, local art galleries, posh eateries, and upscale clientele.
This quaint seaside village just to the north of Monterey is the perfect place to get a taste of the Northern California coast’s quaint seaside culture. With much the same appeal as a resort town, Carmel-by-the-Sea – also known by the locals as just “Carmel” – will surely charm you with its cute shops, local art galleries, posh eateries and upscale clientele. Be sure to remember, however, that this peaceful village does not share its name with the popular sugary treat; pronounce its name “Car-MEL” to sound like a local!
This tiny oceanfront getaway is, in fact, tiny. The entire town is only 1.1 square miles, but nevertheless it packs a scenic punch! The entire town seems as if it is a city in a seaside forest, as the residents here have greatly struggled to maintain its small-town charm and natural features. Carmel-by-the-Sea is, as its name would indicate, directly next to the famously tumultuous Pacific coastline of Northern California. As such, the easy-going personality of most California beachside towns is noticeable here. Although the residents here are no doubt very sophisticated, they tend to lack the stuffy, elitist attitude that sometimes plagues affluent communities and people here are instead welcoming, friendly, and open to the visitors that are so vital to their town’s economy. Everyone seems to be enjoying life here in one way or another: whether by taking a stroll on Carmel’s craggy seaside cliffs, lunching with friends in an Ocean Avenue cafe, or playing with their kids in the front lawn, residents here truly know how to have joie de vivre.
Carmel by the sea has a unique collection of natural features. Due to its placement on the beautiful and majestic coastline of Northern California, just blocks from the main street of town lies some of the most incredible vistas you can get of the Pacific Ocean, especially at sunset! Dotted with many rocks near the coastline, this section of the state’s beaches is known as some of the most unique – this is most definitely not what you see on Baywatch! As the
water crashes around the tumultuous coast, those with keen eyes can spot many examples of Carmel’s wonderful animal life like seagulls and pelicans. But Carmel-by-the-Sea is not your typical beach town.
It also has the appearance of many small towns on the East Coast, the foliage here year-round gives off the appearance that this quaint town is also hidden within a forest. The Monterey coast is famous for its collection of pine and cypress trees, and Carmel is certainly no exception.
Taking a simple walk-through residential Carmel can also be incredibly rewarding. Not only do you get to take in the foliage mentioned above, but the affluent status of most Carmel residents is clearly demonstrated in the houses you can find here. Many of them are crafted to greatly resemble fairytale cottages, complete with sloping, thatched roofs and wooden fences outside. Many describe them as “Hansel and Gretel” or “Snow White” houses, so they will
surely be a favorite of the children! Many of the gardens planted outside these houses are just as spectacular, often containing flowers available for year-round enjoyment. Residents take great pride in maintaining their homes, so it is extremely hard to find one that is not an aesthetic beauty in this quaint city!
But if your interests are more commercial, Carmel-by-the-Sea’s main street, Ocean Avenue, has much to offer by way of cafes, restaurants, art galleries, spas and many, many adorable boutiques. Ocean Avenue is truly where the resort town feeling of Carmel comes out, as the personality of the various stores and their merchants is often very upscale. Delight in the
multiple fine jewelry stores, custom linen shops, and apparel boutiques as a window into the incredible lives of Carmel’s residents. The restaurants available to will surely keep you satisfied, as well. European cuisine dominates, with two fabulous Italian and French restaurants to satisfy all sophisticated palettes.
Top things to See and do in and Near Carmel-by-the-Sea
Carmel Valley Wine Country: Carmel Valley is one of California’s hidden gems and “Undiscovered” wine countries. Chateau Julien Wine Estate is one of the top wineries and the region.
Carmel Spanish Historic Mission: Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo, or Misión de San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, first built in 1797, is one of the most authentically restored Roman Catholic mission churches in California. Located at the mouth of Carmel Valley, California, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Bixby Creek Bridge: Open-spandrel arch bridge in Monterey County, California. Bixby Creek Bridge, also known as Bixby Canyon Bridge, on the Big Sur coast of California, is one of the most photographed bridges in California due to its aesthetic design, “graceful architecture and magnificent setting”. It is a reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Point Lobos is just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States, and at the north end of the Big Sur coast of the Pacific Ocean. Point Lobos features a number of hiking trails, many alongside the ocean, and a smaller number of beaches. The historic Whalers Cabin, built by Chinese fishermen and later used by Japanese and Portuguese fishermen, is now a museum.
Point Lobos and the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the “crown jewel” of California’s 280 state parks. Australian-born landscape artist Francis McComas described the point as the “greatest meeting of land and water in the world. Adjoining Point Lobos is “one of the richest marine habitats in California. The ocean habitat is protected by two marine protected areas, the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve and Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area. The sea
near Point Lobos is considered one of the best locations for scuba diving on the Monterey Peninsula and along the California coast.
Cultura Comida y Bebida: In a brick-lined courtyard, this vivaciously elegant restaurant pairs art and candlelight with food inspired by Oaxacan flavors and an entire library’s worth of mezcal. The ambience is upscale but relaxed and…
Tor House: Even if you’ve never heard of 20th-century poet Robinson Jeffers, a pilgrimage to this house built with his own hands offers fascinating insights into both the man and the bohemian ethos of Old Carmel. A porthole…
Scheid Vineyards: Pop into Scheid Vineyards’ wine-tasting room to sip a prodigious range of grape varietals, all grown in Monterey County. Red wine varietals including Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are local stars.
Carmel Beach City Park: Not always sunny, Carmel Beach is a gorgeous blanket of white sand, where pampered pups excitedly run off-leash. South of 10th Ave, bonfires crackle after sunset (until 10pm Monday through Thursday only).
ROUX: ROUX combines French and Spanish flavors amid their shaded garden setting. Try the ‘Surf & Turf’ paella for two people. Reservations are recommended for dinner.
Brand & Family: This modern tasting room is a good place to try Californian-, French- and Spanish-style wines. A vinyl turntable and retro board games give it a hip ambience.
Pebble Beach Food & Wine: Excellent four-day gastronomy-focused festival sponsored by the prestigious Food & Wine magazine. Held in mid- to late-April.
Corkscrew Café: Just possibly Carmel Valley’s coziest eatery, the Corkscrew Cafe combines a rustic wine-country vibe and a Mediterranean-influenced menu – think wood-fired salmon, pizza, and mushroom and lamb pasta – with a…
Barmel: Shaking up Carmel’s conservative image and adding a dash of after-dark fun is this cool little Spanish-themed courtyard bar. Come for free concerts from 7pm to 9pm Thursday to Saturday or hit the dance floor on…
La Bicyclette: Rustic French comfort food using seasonal local ingredients and an open kitchen baking wood-fired-oven pizzas packs couples into this bistro. Excellent local wines by the glass. It’s also a top spot for a…
Lone Cypress: Central California’s most famous and photographed tree has been perched precariously on a seaward rock for possibly more than 250 years.
Carmel International Film Festival: Live music and over 100 independent film screenings. Animation, documentaries, features and short films are all covered.
Katy’s Place: It’s pricey, but what isn’t in Carmel? Start your day with an apple-cinnamon Belgian waffle, Swedish pancakes or one of 20 Californicized variations on eggs Benedict.
Forest Theater: At this 1910 venue, community-theater musicals, dramas and comedies as well as film screenings take place under the stars by flickering fire pits.
Carmel River State Beach: Migratory birds are attracted to this mile-long stretch of sand bordered by a lagoon formed by the Carmel River.
Pebble Beach Market: Made-to-order deli sandwiches and salads are good-value options at this cheaper alternative at Pebble Beach.
Joyce Wine Company: A modern and stylish room showcasing the winery’s well-regarded Pinot Noir and rosé.
Bruno’s Market & Deli: Small supermarket deli counter makes a saucy sandwich of oakwood-grilled tri-tip beef and stocks all the accoutrements for a beach picnic, including Sparkys root beer from Pacific Grove.