The Carmel Mission, officially known as Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, is one of the oldest and most beautiful missions in California. It’s easy to while away an afternoon strolling the grounds of this sacred place, especially if you appreciate architecture, gardens, history, or photography. Although it’s a Christian place of worship, most anyone will feel a sense of faith and spirituality in the tranquil surroundings.
Start in the basilica, which was built in 1797 and is still used for worship today. The architectural style is clean and simple, as few skilled stonemasons were available in those days. The magnificent Casavant organ, complete with horizontal trumpets and elaborately carved casework, is a wonder to behold even if you’re not there to hear it played during a service.
Explore the mission’s history through its four museums. The Harry Downie Museum looks at the restoration of the mission and bell tower, which was established in 1771. The Munrás Family Heritage Museum examines life in the Monterey area during the early 19th century through artifacts collected by one of the area’s oldest families. Admire the collection of decorative artworks in the Mora Chapel Gallery, including a marble and bronze memorial sculpture dedicated to the mission’s founder, Father Junípero Serra. Explore Padre Serra’s 18th-century convent in the Convento Museum, complete with restored living area, kitchen and guest room.
Guided tours are an excellent way to better understand the history of this U.S. National Historic Landmark. Group tours with local docents can be booked in advance via the website, and brochures are available for self-guided tours.
Carmel Mission is located in the town of Carmel, 10 minutes by car from downtown Monterey. You can also get there by connecting buses from Monterey. No food is available to purchase at the mission, which is open daily except for Easter Sunday and Monday, Thanksgiving, and from December 24 through December 26. Church services are held on Sunday mornings. The mission hosts religious, cultural and community events throughout the year, so be sure to check their calendar on the mission’s website.
Situated in a garden setting, this newly renovated (July 2008) hotel is 4 blocks from the historic Carmel Mission, 7 miles from downtown Monterey, and 8 miles from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Situated near the beach, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Cherry Center for the Arts and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 3.1 mi (4.9 km) away.
Situated by the ocean, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Carmel City Beach and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) away.
Situated near the beach, this motel is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Smallsea, A Metropolis in Miniature and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Carmel Beach. The Barnyard and Carmel Mission Basilica are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Situated by the ocean, this bed & breakfast is within a 15-minute walk of Carmel City Beach and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) away.
Situated near the beach, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Carmel Plaza and Carmel Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links is 2.7 mi (4.4 km) away.