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USA Travel: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – Activity Recommendations

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This is a list of activity recommendations and photos from Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA. An Engaged Abroad favorite destination, Carmel is a gem on California’s coast that offers some of the world’s finest scenery, historic sites, artist enclaves and fine dining.


About Carmel

  • Top Ten Visitor Destinations as named by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine for the past 8 years
  • Travel + Leisure has named it as one of the “World’s Best Cities for Romance”
  • Small village atmosphere; 45 small inns, 90 art galleries, 60 unique restaurants and 14 tasting rooms with no chain restuarnasts
  • Site of over 200 movie & commercial shoots including “East of Eden”, “Play Misty for Me”, and “National Velvet”

Logistics

  • Travel to Carmel from San Jose, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz or Monterey
  • There are three distinct areas of Carmel: 1) Carmel-by-the-Sea; 2) Carmel Highlands and; 3) Carmel Valley
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea is a one-square mile village (same size as London)
  • Carmel Highlands offers ocean views and hiking and is located in the South, past Point Lobos
  • Carmel Valley offers wine country and is located at southern end of town, extending inland to the east

Map from San Jose to Los Gatos to Monterey to Carmel

Connect this itinerary

Map of a recommended walk around downtown Carmel

This walk brings you from Carmel Beach, onto the Robinson Jeffers Tor House, back through the beautiful Cyprus tree lined streets of beachside Carmel into the downtown commercial and Arts district.

Carmel Favorites

Stay

  • Pebble Beach Resort
  • Bernardus Lodge & Spa
  • Cypress Inn

Do

  • Carmel Historic Walking Tour
  • Carmel Beach
  • 17 Mile Drive
  • Robinson Jeffers Tor House
  • Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo
  • Wine tasting (downtown tasting rooms)
  • Art galleries (80+)
  • Point Lobos State Reserve
  • Garland Park
  • Frank Lloyd Wright House for those interested in architecture
  • Cottage of Sweets
  • National Steinbeck Center for those who love literature (drive 30 minutes to Salinas)

Dine

  • La Bicyclette Restaurant
  • Stationaery
  • Aubergine The Restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel
  • Lucia Restaurant & Bar – Bernardus Lodge & Spa
  • Carmel Bakery
  • Hog’s Breath Inn (formerly owned by Clint Eastwood)

Downtown Carmel Commercial & Arts District

Art Galleries

Carmel’s artist enclave is home to dozens of local artists who use the natural surrounds as inspiration for their work.

Wine Tasting in Downtown Carmel

Carmel offers a Wine Walk is an “on-going self paced, self guided, dog and child friendly, tour to the 13 tasting rooms within coastal Carmel-by-the-Sea tucked between Big Sur and Monterey on the Central Coast of California” (Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea, 2021). There is a Virtual Tour that provides the in-person experience sans wine.

Prior to Covid, for $100 visitors could purchase a Passport, which provides them with a choice of 10 full flights at their choice of any of the 13 tasting rooms.

Tasting Rooms

This region is known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

  • Blair Estates
  • Caraccioli Cellars
  • Dawn’s Dream Winery
  • De Tierra Vineyards
  • Holman Ranch
  • Galante Vineyards
  • Manzoni Cellars
  • Scheid Vineyards
  • Scratch Wines
  • Shale Canyon Wines
  • Silvestri Vineyards
  • Windy Oaks Estate
  • Wrath Winery

Walk through neighborhoods to Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach’s beautiful white-sand beach comes from the offshore Santa Lucia Granodiorite rocks.

The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation / Tor House Tour

Who was Robinson Jeffers?

  • American poet who made the focus of his poems the central California coast, including Carmel Point and Tor House
  • Visitors can go to his home, the Tor House
  • Video: Rhapsody & Requiem: The Life of Robinson Jeffers (27 minutes)
  • Jeffers planted over 2,000 Cyprus Trees that are an integral part of Carmel’s coastline. Though the amount of property owned by the estate is limited to what it once was, the trees continue to tell a story.

Golf at Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach Golf Links is the number one public course in the country.

Carmel Mission Basilica

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