12 Best Things to do in Carmel, California

Carmel or Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small Californian beach city in Monterey County known for historic establishments like libraries, art galleries, museums, etc. It’s famous for its village-like ambiance and scenic sandy beach.

Incorporated in the October of 1916, with a meager population of just about 4000, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a good place to visit to break away from the mundane city life. The culture of the place is a cluster of American, Spanish, and Mexican.

A strikethrough feature of this city is the fact that it has no street addresses. This makes this place quite “GPS-proof”. Read along as here we discuss the 12 best things to do in Carmel

Best Places in Carmel

Here are the best places in Carmel where you can enjoy your trip:

1. Get spiritual at Carmel Mission

Carmel, California: spiritual at Carmel Mission

Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo or Carmel Mission was built in 1797. It is the only Spanish mission with a bell tower and an original bell in the whole of California. The mission serves as an active church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey. The reason why you should visit Carmel Mission is the quite decorative interior. Carmel Mission breaks the stereotype interior of most Spanish churches.

2. Shopping at and around Ocean Avenue

When we say Carmel is filled with uniqueness, we mean it. There are a wide variety of boutiques, jewelry shops, antique stores, artisan shops, and more. One notable establishment is the Cottage of Sweets which is both picturesque and a treat for sweet tooths. Apart from local shops, there are Scandinavian stores, etc. There are also quite plenty of fine restaurants that serve many types of cuisine ranging from continental to French, Italian, Greek, and more.

3. Explore countless Fairy Tale cottages

There are a great number of fairy tale cottages created by Hugh Comstock between 1920-1930. The reason behind creating such architecture was that Hugh wanted to make a studio for his wife, who was a doll maker. The first cottage was named Hansel and the other Gretel. Later Comstock bought much land and filled it with such cottages. The striking architecture and the overall fairy tale vibe are quite enchanting and make one feel like he is indeed in a fairy tale home.

4. Spend some quality time at Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

This world-famous beach is literally like a glimpse of paradise. It is a good place to spend a day on. The soft and white sands can attract anyone towards it. It is located at the end of Ocean Avenue. The beach is perfect for going with family or friends. The beach is also good for swimming. Apart from this, the beach is also popular as a wedding venue due to the scenic beauty.

5. Admire the beauty of Point Lobos Reserve

Carmel, California: Point Lobos Reserve

Point Lobo Reserve is yet another Carmel attraction. It is a gorgeous two-mile sea coast that attracts everyone from photographers to hikers. Spectacular views and endless ocean make this place worth visiting. Foxes, raccoons, rabbits, mountain lions, etc are some of the animals that can be spotted here. There are also over hundred types of birds. For water enthusiasts, you can find rare sea life and a good amount of kelp forests.

6. Visit Tor House

Tor House is a unique establishment built on the order of the celebrated American poet Robinson Jeffers. The house has been famous for hosting many celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, George Gershwin, Sinclair Lewis, etc. the construction of the house began in 1914 and got completed in 1919. The house was built for the poet’s wife and children. It is a stone cottage with granite boulders. A year later, a tower was also added.

7. Get a glimpse of Carmel’s culture at Sunset Cultural Center

Built as a public school in 1926, Sunset Cultural center is at present a center for performing arts. The remarkable gothic style architecture and acoustics enable it to host world-class events including music shows, comedy shows, theatre, etc. The center also organizes popular events like Carmel International film Festival and the Nutcracker.

8. Visit Carmel’s one of the oldest outdoor theatres, Forest Theatre Guild

To the west of the Rockies, you can find the Forest Theatre guild. It was founded in 1910 by Herbert Haron and Carmen’s people to set up an open-air theatre. The main motivation for establishing this theater was to encourage new artists. The theater was built small with just 60 seats. But over time it underwent many renovations.

9. Have a look at the natural flora at Piccadilly Park

If plants are your thing, you should definitely check out Piccadilly park. Maintained by the local volunteers, Piccadilly Park has different varieties of plants. The park has drought-resistant plants and mature shade trees. Many species are limited only to this park and can’t be found elsewhere. The park was designed by Walter Guthrie. Even if you are not such an avid fan of the greens, you can still come here to relax.

10. Taste local alcoholic drinks

If you are into wines and stuff, there are a plethora of vineyards in the Carmel Valley for you. One of the most famous vineyards in the Folktale Winery. The specialty of this wine house is the fusion between nature and alcohol. You will be served at an outdoor table so you can also take in views from the outside. Bernardus Winery is yet another famous wine house.

11. Watch whales at Monterey

Just near Carmel, there’s Monterey. Monterey is one of the best places in the whole US when it comes to whale watching. You can book a whale watching tour in advance. There’s also the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium that is a must-visit apart from that you can also visit Pacific Grove, dine at some of the best eateries, etc.

12. 17 Mile drive

On the Monterey Peninsula is a roadway that is unlike others. It is a 17-mile drive. To say that this roadway is beautiful would be a mere understatement. With millions of visitors passing through it each year, there’s a lot to see on this road. There are grand golf courses, mansions, special trees like the Lone Cypress, etc.

Read More, Things to do in San Francisco, California

There are just so many reasons why you should plan your next holiday in Carmel. The beaches, the atmosphere, and the overall vibe are just beyond words. The best time to visit Carmel is between September to November.

These are best Things to do in Carmel, California.