top of page
  • Writer's pictureMary Ann Issac

7 Best Things to do at Carmel by the Sea

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

What can I say about Carmel by the Sea, other than it is the place you want to go if you want to find the whimsy of Europe in California!

This beautiful town oozes European charm with fairytale inspired architecture, that can instantly take you back to your childhood fantasy.

Shops line a beautiful tree line street, and not just any kind of shops-the most beautiful shop windows, in the most fairytale like buildings- I felt like I was walking through a town right out of a Disney classic!

I had no idea what to expect at Carmel by the Sea, as I had done no research whatsoever before I got there, so I was blown away, and fell in love instantly!

I feel it is the most beautiful town in all of California!

Check out my guide to San Francisco!-10 Best things to do in San Francisco!

Carmel by the sea, Carmel beach, most instagrammable street in San Francisco, most beautiful town in California
A shop at Downtown Carmel

Is it an instagrammer’s delight?

Absolutely! There is no shortage of cute spots, or shops to take photographs at, and no doubt, they will be an instant hit!

I loved that they had a Christmas shop ( I love everything to do with Christmas), and the best part was, that I was in town at the end of September-early Oct! Spotting a shop that was all set for Christmas instantly put me in a better mood!

My favourite day trips from San Francisco!-check it out!

Take a day trip/ weekend trip to Napa Valley from San Francisco-Check out my guide!

Carmel by the sea, Carmel beach, most instagrammable street in San Francisco, most beautiful town in California, Christmas shopping in San Francisco
They are ready for Christmas!

1. Walk through town!

My favourite thing to do here was to just walk around town, and enjoy the architecture. It is nothing short of a magical walk! There are some really cute corners here, that you will miss if you aren’t walking about with the purpose of finding them-so keep that in mind!

Carmel by the sea, Carmel beach, point lobos state natural reserve, diving at point lobos marine reserve

2. Shop/Window Shop

Downtown Carmel by the sea is best for some high end retail therapy & scrumptious cuisine. Shopping in Carmel by the sea, may not be for everyone’s pocket. It definitely wasn’t for mine, but I did enjoy the window shopping- but to those of you who like to indulge in the finer things in life-this is the place to be!

shopping in Carmel by the sea, best restaurants in Carmel by the sea, Carmel mission basilica, Tor House, hawk tower Carmel
The beautiful shopping centre

3. Eat as much as you can!

There are so many beautiful restaurants and cafes here, that you will be spoilt for choice. I particularly liked the bakeries and the ice cream! Indulge in the food here, and you will not be disappointed!

Carmel bakery, cafes in Carmel by the sea, restaurants in Carmel California, Monterey California, 17 mile drive California
Carmel bakery!

4. Carmel Beach

Let’s not forget that this is indeed Carmel ‘by the sea’! Head to the beach!

Carmel by the sea, Monterey California, Tor House, hawk tower, point lobos state natural reserve
How beautiful is the shopping centre!

5. Take a tour of Carmel Mission Basilica

The Carmel Mission Basilica dates back to 1771. Visitors can tour the grounds & learn about the history of the basilica at the museum. There is a museum shop on site from where you can buy some souvenirs. Everyone is always welcomed at mass-so check online for the timings and attend a mass at this centuries old basilica if you can!

Carmel by the sea, Carmel beach, most instagrammable street in San Francisco, most beautiful town in California
I was there on the perfect day-look at sky!

6. Visit Tor House & Hawk Tower

The erstwhile home of the poet Robinson Jeffers & his family from 1919 to 1999. There are guided tours on Fridays & Saturdays. Book tickets online on their website. The tour will give you an insight into the history of Carmel by the sea, and a deeper appreciation for Jeffers’ poetry. The tour also includes information about the late poet’s family, and his life in Carmel.

Carmel by the sea, shops in Carmel, restaurants in Carmel, things to do in Carmel by the sea, how to get to Carmel by the sea
Shops on tree lined streets at Carmel

7. Get close to nature at Point Lobos State Nature Preserve

Go on a hike! There are so many trails that start from different points, so check the national parks website, to see which suits you.

The best part about Point Lobos is that for those who don’t want to wander alone through the national park-there are guided walks, that too for FREE! Check the national park's website to see the DAILY schedule of FREE guided walks!

There’s also a museum that is open daily for those who don’t want to spend too much time in the outdoors!

Is Point Lobos Pet Friendly?

No! Dogs aren’t allowed on the trails, nor are they allowed to be left in the cars in the parking area.

Can you camp at Point Lobos?

No! The park is only for day use, and all visitors must exit at closing time.

Can you dive at Point Lobos Marine Reserve

Yes! But only for certified divers (certification will be asked). Diving from Whalers Cove & Bluefish Cove. You need to reserve your spots to dive- diving is allowed 7days/week. Make your dive reservations online.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page