Things to See and Do in Carmel, California

carmel, beach, california
Are you visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Carmel, California.

When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is Carmel Beach, but I also take them to The Lagoon – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the crowds/tourists, my favorite place to visit is Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

point lobos, carmel, california
Point Lobos in black & white. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Carmel Beach for kissing with a view.

The best place to walk the dog is Carmel Beach and Mission Trails Park.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in nearby Monterey, California.

Good eats in Carmel-By-the-Sea

If you are looking for regional, farm to fork cuisine, I recommend Casanova. If this is a big splurge for a romantic dinner or special celebration, reserve Van Gogh’s Chefs Table!

van gogh table, casa nova, carmel, california
Van Gogh Table at Casanova. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Katie’s.

Looking for cheap food in Carmel? Go to Dametra – especially for late night dining, Tommy’s Wok or Little Napoli (however, nothing in Carmel is that inexpensive)

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Anton & Michel – their rack of lamb and bananas foster are both excellent, Grasings or La Balena are popular, as well.

Seeing a lot of folks walking the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea? The city is best known for being dog-friendly, the beach, art galleries and one-of-a-kind boutiques. If you only have a short time to visit, I recommend taking a Carmel Food Tour, Carmel Art Tour or Carmel Walking Tour. The Carmel Wine Walk by the Sea is also a popular and affordable option for tasting local wines using the Passport Flight Voucher coupons. The Passport Flight Voucher provides a Wine Walk flight at your choice of any 9 of the 14 participating tasting rooms. Check the website for current members and pricing as participating wineries are growing as fast as grapes on the vine!

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tuck box, carmel, california
Tuck Box photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

When you come to Carmel, get your picture taken at The Tuck Box, Hog’s Breath (FYI, Clint Eastwood no longer owns the Hog’s Breath, you’re more apt to spot him at Mission Ranch Hotel & Restaurant) and the beach. The best vantage points are taken by walking to the easily accessible and dog-friendly Carmel Beach, a little further down the beach is the Lagoon.

The patio at Il Forniao or the Starlight deck at Vesuvio offer great views, while Carmel Beach is the best place to watch or experience the Surf About and the yearly Sand Castle Building Contest.


vesuvio, carmel, california
Cocktails on the deck at Vesuvio. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

In Carmel outdoor lovers will want to walk, hike, bike, horseback ride in Carmel Valley and drink wine on the Wine Walk.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along Scenic Avenue, Carmel Beach or Mission Trails Park. After a day of adventure, Kush Spa is the best place to go for a spa treatment. Many Inns offer in-room spa treatments.

The Carmel Pine Cone will keep you posted on what’s happening in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The local newspaper is published every Friday, but it’s available online Thursday nights. Be sure not to miss the Sheriff’s log!


carmel, farmers market, california
Carmel Farmers’ Market photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

In the spring you should attend the Farmers’ Market every Thursday. There are also additional Farmers’ Markets at the Carmel Barnyard and in several Monterey locations.

In the summer you should attend all of the car events that take place the third week in August.

Did you know that Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for the beach? Plan a visit to Carmel in the fall – September – November are beautiful!

Come to Carmel-by-the-Sea for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in the winter.


Carmel-by-the-sea, city of carmel, city hall
No high heels in Carmel. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip: I’ll bet you didn’t know that Clint Eastwood was once the mayor of Carmel and that high heels are illegal to wear on the streets of Carmel! Just outside of Carmel-by-the-Sea you can visit Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Have lunch at Schooner’s in the Monterey Plaza Hotel. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and @CarmelChamber.

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Thanks to the Carmel Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to visit this charming village by the sea. Things to see and do in Carmel, California and photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown. Top photo courtesy Kendall Brown.

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  1. Pingback: Pet-friendly Hideaway in Carmel, California | Nancy D Brown

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