If you’re looking for a charming coastal town with stunning views, Carmel-by-the-Sea in California should be on your list. This picturesque town offers a wide range of activities and attractions to visitors.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family trip, Carmel-by-the-Sea is an excellent destination for you.
In the following post, we’ll take you through a guide to this charming coastal town and the surrounding area.
Exploring the Beaches
One of the main reasons visitors flock to Carmel-by-the-Sea is because of its stunning beaches. The town has several beaches that offer a range of activities, including sunbathing, swimming, surfing, and hiking.
For beachgoers looking for a peaceful setting with stunning ocean views, Carmel Beach is the perfect destination. This well known beach boasts some of the most spectacular sunsets in the area and is a popular spot for long romantic walks.
Dogs are also allowed on the beach, so it’s a great place for those who want to bring their furry friends along. If you’re looking for a little adventure, take a dip in the ocean or rent a kayak and explore the coastline from a different perspective.
Pebble Beach is another favorite spot among visitors to Carmel-by-the-Sea. This beach is dotted with smooth pebbles that give it its unique character and make it a popular choice for beachcombing.
The beach also has perfect waves, which makes it an excellent spot for boogie boarding, surfing, and body surfing. Visitors can rent surfboards or wetsuits from nearby shops if they want to join the action.
For those who crave a secluded and peaceful atmosphere, Monastery Beach is a must-visit. This beach is located at the base of a monastery and is surrounded by towering cliffs, making it inaccessible by car.
So, if you’re willing to hike a bit, you’ll be rewarded with a tranquil oasis. Monastery Beach is also a popular spot for scuba diving, snorkeling, and paddleboarding.
However, be mindful of the strong currents, as the beach has a reputation for being dangerous.
Cypress Beach is an unspoiled, hidden gem, located just south of Carmel Beach. With its rocky shoreline and stunning views of Cypress Point, it’s a popular spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
The beach is also a great spot for birdwatching, and visitors may even be lucky enough to spot seals or sea otters.
Swimming is not allowed due to the strong currents, but tide-pooling is permitted during low tide.
China Cove Beach
China Cove Beach is a small, sheltered, and secluded cove that’s perfect for those seeking privacy. It’s accessible only by following a narrow trail through a residential area, which makes it an excellent spot for escaping the crowds.
The crystal clear water and shallow, sandy bottom make it a great place to wade, paddle, or float. The beach is also home to an array of marine life, including crabs, starfish, and fish.
Discover the Charming Cottages
The cottages in Carmel-by-the-Sea are diverse. You can find historical cottages with a classic charm to modern, chic homes with contemporary designs. If you’re a history enthusiast, then the historical cottages are a must-see.
Many of them date back to the early 1900s and have a unique story behind them. Take, for example, the famous Hansel and Gretel Cottage.
This cottage was constructed in the 1920s and features a roof with a shingle design and coved ceilings like that of a storybook house. Besides, the cottage is surrounded by a beautiful garden, making it even more charming.
Apart from their historical significance, the cottages in Carmel-by-the-Sea are also famous for their unique architecture. Each house is designed with intricate details that give them a unique character and charm.
Some of the stunning features include secret gardens, steep rooftops, and chimneys with unique designs. The architectural design creates a sense of wonder and awe, bringing the feeling of being in a fairy tale home.
Carmel-by-the-Sea has cottage rentals for every budget. Whether you’re looking for a pocket-friendly option or a luxurious holiday stay, there is something for everyone. You can browse through vacation rental companies such as Airbnb or VRBO to find a cottage that suits your preferences.
If you’re traveling with a group, renting a cottage can be more practical and budget-friendly than a hotel. Plus, you can enjoy the privacy and comfort that comes with a home away from home.
It’s not only the architecture that is unique to Carmel-by-the-Sea. The town’s strict building codes and regulations further enhance the charm of the cottages. These rules dictate that no house can be taller than two stories and must be of wood or soft materials.
Besides, the houses’ front yards cannot have fences, ensuring that the view remains unobstructed. The regulations have helped maintain the town’s charm over the years, making it a sought-after vacation destination.
One of the first galleries you should visit is The Carmel Art Association. Established in 1927, this nonprofit organization is dedicated to promoting the works of local artists and showcasing their talent.
Here you’ll find a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and photographs that reflect the town’s natural beauty and cultural influences. The gallery is open seven days a week, and admission is free.
Another must-see gallery is The Forest & Ocean Gallery, situated in the heart of Carmel’s downtown area. This elegantly designed gallery features contemporary art and artisanal crafts from around the world. The gallery hosts regular exhibits, including a popular annual juried photography competition in September.
Visitors can also explore the outdoor sculpture garden and attend workshops and lectures by featured artists.
Modern Art and the Weston Gallery
If you’re interested in modern art and avant-garde styles, visit The Weston Gallery. Founded in 1975, this gallery showcases fine art photography from the early 20th century to the present day. Its extensive collection includes works from legends such as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Helmut Newton.
The gallery is also known for its stunning editions of photographic books and portfolios.
For those who appreciate classic European art, the Galante Gallery is a hidden gem. This gallery specializes in fine art reproductions of masterworks, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.
The reproductions are made using the traditional fresco technique and are remarkably close to the original pieces. The gallery also offers custom framing and restoration services.
Last but not least, visit the Gallery by the Sea, located in the charming Carmel Plaza. This gallery showcases a wide range of artistic styles, from contemporary paintings to antique maps and prints.
The gallery’s friendly staff is happy to assist visitors in finding the perfect artwork for their home or office. Don’t miss their annual fall show, featuring works from local artists and guest curators.
Scenic Drives Along the Big Sur Coastline
The Big Sur coastline is a short drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea. The scenic drive is a popular attraction among visitors, with breathtaking views of rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and winding roads. It’s one of the most stunning drives in California and something every visitor should add to their itinerary.
The Bixby Bridge is an iconic landmark of the Big Sur coastline and one of the most photographed bridges in California. The bridge spans over a deep canyon and offers stunning views of the coastline and the Pacific Ocean. Take a moment to take in the breathtaking view and snap some pictures of this architectural masterpiece.
McWay Falls is a natural waterfall that cascades onto a secluded beach. The waterfall is only accessible by foot, but the short hike is worth it. The turquoise waters and the lush greenery around the falls offer a surreal experience that is hard to forget.
Pfeiffer Beach is a hidden gem in the Big Sur coastline that is often overlooked by visitors. The beach is famous for its purple sand and its iconic rock formations. Take a stroll along the beach, listen to the sound of waves crashing against the rocks, and watch the sunset over the Pacific horizon.
Point Sur Lighthouse
The Point Sur Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in California and an important part of the state’s maritime history. The lighthouse offers a guided tour that takes you through the history of the lighthouse and offers stunning views of the coastline.
Big Sur River Inn
The Big Sur River Inn is a historic inn that has been welcoming guests for more than 80 years. The inn is nestled in a redwood forest and offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Have a lazy afternoon in the hammocks, take a dip in the pool, and enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine on the outdoor patio.
Eat like a local
As a visitor, it can be overwhelming to choose from the countless restaurants that line Ocean Ave. However, by following the locals, you’re sure to experience the town’s exceptional cuisine and soak up some of its cultures.
For a taste of the Mediterranean, Il Fornaio is the perfect choice. Located on the outskirts of town with an ocean view, the restaurant offers classic Italian dishes such as homemade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and fresh seafood.
While the food is impeccable, the restaurant’s rustic-chic atmosphere is equally impressive. With a courtyard and fireplace that evoke a cozy, romantic ambiance, Il Fornaio is a great option for a night out with your significant other.
Nestled in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, La Bicyclette is a favorite among locals for its authentic French bistro cuisine and cozy atmosphere. With locally sourced ingredients and a variety of house-made pastries, the restaurant has something for everyone.
Whether you’re in the mood for a classic croissant, a hearty sandwich, or a warm bowl of soup, La Bicyclette is the perfect spot to grab a quick bite or linger over a leisurely lunch.
For a romantic and authentic Italian dining experience, Little Napoli is the place to be. With its charming stone walls and attentive service, the restaurant has been named one of the best Italian restaurants in the country.
From classic dishes like spaghetti carbonara to more modern creations such as a beet salad with goat cheese, every item on the menu is delicious and expertly prepared. For dessert, be sure to try the tiramisu, which is made in-house and is one of the restaurant’s standout dishes.
The Grill on Ocean Ave
If you’re in the mood for some classic American cuisine, look no further than The Grill on Ocean Ave. Located in the heart of town, the restaurant offers a variety of high-quality, locally sourced dishes such as seared ahi tuna, grilled ribeye steak, and smoky ribs.
With an extensive wine list, craft cocktails, and live music in the evenings, The Grill is a great choice for a casual dinner with friends or family.
Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar
For seafood lovers, Flaherty’s is a must-visit restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea. With fresh seafood from Monterey Bay, the menu offers everything from clam chowder to lobster risotto to fish and chips.
Along with classics, the restaurant also features more adventurous dishes like octopus carpaccio and sea urchin pasta. The patio offers beautiful views of the ocean, making it a great spot for a romantic dinner or a special occasion.
Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a unique and charming experience to visitors with its stunning beaches, charming cottages, art galleries, and scenic drives along the nearby Big Sur coastline.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family trip, the town has many delights.
We hope this guide has given you insight into all the fantastic things the town has to offer, making your next trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea a memorable one.