What Millennials Do When They Visit Carmel

carmel beach at sunset

What millennials do when they visit Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea has always been a very special place for me. I grew up in the East Bay and we would visit my grandparents in Carmel every couple months. However, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I really started to appreciate all that Carmel had to offer. Now I live in San Francisco and when I want to plan a fun weekend outside of the city, my go to spot is Carmel. What do millennials do when they visit Carmel and what makes this place so enchanting? I love Carmel for its charm, its food, and its views. Below is my favorite way to spend a day in Carmel:

Carmel road trip

Begin your road trip sometime before 10 am. The drive takes 2 to 2.5 hours from the San Francisco Bay Area and I like to get up on the earlier side to maximize my time in Carmel. Once you arrive, head to the Cottage Restaurant for brunch. This quaint spot is right downtown and is the perfect spot to start your day.

window box with blooming flowers at The Cottage in downtown Carmel.
Grab some brunch at The Cottage. You won’t regret it.

Where to grab coffee and a snack in Carmel

Once you are done with brunch, walk the shops along the main drag, Ocean Avenue. Carmel is similar to Europe in its cobblestone streets and its meandering alleyways.

flagstone stepping pavers and storybook cottages are sprinkled throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea on California Central Coast.
Get lost exploring the charming streets of Carmel.


Once I’ve built up an appetite, I like to get a giant soft pretzel from the Carmel Bakery. This pretzel is the most delicious piece of bread you will ever eat. It is pure heaven.

The Bavarian soft pretzel from Carmel Bakery is the best and a favorite of Kendall C. Brown.
A pretzel from the Carmel Bakery is an absolute must!


As I munch on my pretzel, I like to grab coffee at my favorite spot, the Carmel Coffee house. Sitting in the courtyard surrounded by whitewashed walls makes me feel like I am in Mykonos, Greece. Be sure to check out the Thomas Kinkade Studio in the Garden (right next to the Carmel Bakery). Nestled beneath the trees, Kinkade’s studio is filled with gorgeous pieces, some showcasing the beauty of Carmel.

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Head to Carmel Beach

In a vain attempt to walk off some of the calories from brunch and the pretzel, I like to head to the beach. Carmel is notorious for being unbelievably dog friendly and the beach is filled with all kinds of pups! The white sand is insanely soft and the views of the Pacific Ocean and Pebble Beach are breathtaking.

Millennial Kendall C. Brown on Carmel Beach, wearing a black leather jacket, grey sweater and black pants.
What millennials do when they visit Carmel? Head to Carmel Beach for the soft sand and amazing views.


Mid afternoon I like to head back up Ocean Avenue and embark on a Carmel Wine Walk. Carmel is sprinkled with tasting rooms, all within blocks of one another, and with a Wine Tasting Passport you can enjoy generous pours at 10 of the participating wine tasting rooms. I love to visit 2 or 3 locations each time I visit Carmel.

Every tasting room has its own unique flair. Windy Oaks is a great place to start, while Galante Vineyards has delicious reds (and you can nibble on some chocolate while you taste!) I also love the tastings at Scheid Vineyards.

Wine tasting in Carmel at De Tierra Vineyards
Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea is the perfect way to spend a day.


Personally, I have a soft spot for De Tierra Vineyards because they have the cutest dogs that greet you as soon as you step inside! By the way, wine tasting passports may be purchased online or at the Blair Tasting Room in Carmel Plaza.

Doberman at De Tierra Vineyards tasting room in Carmel, California.
Love dogs? Carmel is the place for you. Pet-friendly De Tierra Vineyards.


After enjoying some tastings, I like to watch the sun set back at the beach and walk around a bit more.

What do millennials do when they visit Carmel? Kendall C. Brown heads to Carmel Beach on California's Central Coast.
Nothing beats a Carmel sunset.

Where Millennials go to dine

For dinner, I head to Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill in Monterey. I used to live in Portland, Oregon and I have a special place in my heart for brew pubs with good food! This place is always packed but there is a beer garden in the back and the wait never takes too long. The food is great and the beer is delicious. If you are looking for things to do in Monterey, it takes around 2 hours to head back to the San Francisco Bay Area.

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As a wannabe Carmel resident, I love how accessible it is to visit Carmel. It’s an easy day trip or a lovely way to spend a weekend. This is my go-to itinerary when I visit Carmel, but there is so much to see and do – the possibilities are endless!


Insider Tip:

If you wake up on the early side on Saturday, or if you head down Friday night, begin your day at Refuge in the Carmel Valley. It is the most relaxing experience and you will feel completely refreshed after spending a few hours in their pools!

For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Instagram and Twitter @Nancydbrown and @visitcarmel on Twitter and Instagram.

If You Go:

The Wine Walk by-the-Sea is a self-paced self-guided stroll to the tasting rooms which are all within a few blocks of each other on the both sides of Ocean Avenue. While it’s nearly impossible for this travel blogger to keep up on the comings and goings of Monterey County Wine Growers, to date, the participating wineries are Blair Estate Artisan Wines, Caraccioli Cellars, Dawn’s Dream, De Tierra Vineyards, Galante Vineyards, Holman Ranch, Manzoni Cellars, Scheid Vineyards, Scratch, Shale Canyon Wines, Silvestri Vineyards,  Windy Oaks, and Wrath Wines.

Pick up your Wine Walk Passport at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center
Ocean Ave. Carmel Plaza, Second Floor
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
(831) 624-2522 or (800) 550-4333

What Millennials Do When They Visit Carmel was written by Kendall C. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Photography courtesy Kendall Brown.