7 Best Things to do at Carmel by the Sea
Updated: Aug 29
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
4. Carmel Beach
Let’s not forget that this is indeed Carmel ‘by the sea’! Head to the beach!
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!
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.
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.