CarmelUnited States of America

This charming oceanfront town is a perfect day-trip for art, food and relaxation. 

Carmel-by-the-Sea offers eclectic architecture, streets rich in bohemian history, and a laid-back lifestyle. Spanish explorers and missionaries first claimed the area around Carmel in the 17th and 18th centuries. It wasn’t until the after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that the sleepy hamlet began to develop into a charming and ecclectic town that continues to draw art lovers and romantics.

Carmel’s heady bohemian days may have long passed, but the city is still fully engaged in the arts and determined to preserve the small community’s characteristic atmosphere and aesthetic. Several artists have served as mayor, including actor and director Clint Eastwood. Historic theaters, including the Sunset Theater and Forest Theater, are still thriving. Check local guides for current productions. There are over 80 art galleries dotted throughout the downtown area, which is impressive for a town with a population of less than 4,000. Pick up a Carmel Gallery Guide or simply take a wander.

Architecture is one of Carmel’s main attractions. Don’t miss Tor House on Carmel Point. Once the home of renowned American poet Robinson Jeffers, the house was built by Jeffers himself with stones collected from the beach below. This extraordinary home features a 40-foot (12-meter) tower embedded with stones from around the world, including the Great Wall of China. Walker Residence is another of the city’s architectural marvels. This modern stone building sits just above the beach and was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ocean Avenue is the old town’s busy hub and is perfect for people-watching. There are over 500 boutiques to explore, and plenty of excellent cafés and restaurants. Monterey County’s reputation as a commercial fishing hub means the seafood is fresh and abundant. Carmel is also close to the California wine region, resulting in wine lists that are long and impressive. The city is renowned for its relaxed attitude towards dogs, and that includes the beach and many restaurants.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a 15-minute drive from Monterey and is accessible by bus from downtown Monterey. Once you arrive, it’s best to sightsee on foot. Pick up a self-guided tour map or join one of the fascinating two-hour Carmel Walks.

Where to stay in Carmel

Carmel featuring signage, a city and street scenes

Northwest Carmel

4.5/5Wonderful!(159 area reviews)

While visiting Northwest Carmel, you might make a stop by sights like Carmel Beach and 17-Mile Drive.

Northwest Carmel
Carmel featuring signage, a city and street scenes

Golden Rectangle

5/5Exceptional!(186 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Golden Rectangle, Carmel Beach and Sunset Center are top sights worth seeing.

Golden Rectangle
Winter beach day in Carmel. #lifeatexpedia

Northeast Carmel

4.5/5Wonderful!(192 area reviews)

Though Northeast Carmel might not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica.

Northeast Carmel
Carmel Mission which includes a house, a fountain and skyline

Carmel Point

4.5/5Wonderful!(14 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Carmel Point, Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica are top sights worth seeing.

Carmel Point
Forest Theater Guild featuring theater scenes and a park

Southeast Carmel

While Southeast Carmel isn't home to many top sights, Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica are some notable places to visit nearby.

Southeast Carmel
Pacific coast

Carmel Riviera

While there might not be top attractions in Carmel Riviera, you can explore the larger area and discover places like Carmel Beach and Point Lobos State Reserve.

Carmel Riviera

Top Hotels in Carmel

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Carmel Mission Inn
Carmel Mission Inn
3.5 out of 5
3665 Rio Rd, Carmel, CA
Free Cancellation
The price is $151 per night

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of The Barnyard and Carmel Mission Basilica. Carmel Beach and 17-Mile Drive are also within ...

4.2/5Excellent! (973 reviews)

"EVERYTHING! It is newly remodeled, the staff was welcoming, helpful and amazing. The room was clean and prefect. Looks exactly like pictures."…"

Reviewed on Jul 8, 2020

Carmel Mission Inn
La Playa Carmel
La Playa Carmel
4 out of 5
Camino Real at Eighth Ave., Carmel, CA
The price is $278 per night

Located in Golden Rectangle, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Golden Bough Playhouse, Sunset Center, and Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room. Galante Vineyards ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (916 reviews)

"Great location easy walk to the beach and downtown Carmel, amazing ocean view rooms. Friendly staff and beautiful out door and pool. Gorgeous Patio, bar and great setting areas inside the hotel."…"

Reviewed on Jul 2, 2020

La Playa Carmel
Quail Lodge & Golf Club
Quail Lodge & Golf Club
4 out of 5
8205 VALLEY GREENS DRIVE, Carmel, CA
The price is $285 per night

Located in Quail Lodge, this golf hotel is 3.7 mi (5.9 km) from The Barnyard and within 12 mi (20 km) of Monterey Museum of Art and Monterey Symphony.

4.6/5Exceptional! (992 reviews)

"It is really nice place, bathroom is nice, cozy place"…"

Reviewed on Jul 4, 2020

Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Popular places to visit in Carmel

Carmel Beach
Image for Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

4.5/5(1,826 reviews)

Spot birds or catch waves, then spread out a picnic by a campfire and enjoy the views at this picturesque beach.

Point Lobos State Reserve
Image for Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve

4.5/5(815 reviews)

This wildlife sanctuary, a magnet for nature lovers and artists, is a jewel of the California State Park system. 

Carmel Mission Basilica
Image for Carmel Mission Basilica

Carmel Mission Basilica

4.5/5(169 reviews)

This tranquil 18th-century stone mission and museum offers a fascinating look into 200 years of spiritual and everyday life in Monterey County. 

Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course
Image for Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course

Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course

4.5/5(16 reviews)

Enjoy a round of golf in Carmel at Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course. Attend a sporting event or simply enjoy the seafood restaurants while you're in the area.

Bixby Bridge
Image for Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge

4.5/5(527 reviews)

This single-span bridge is a magnificent feat of engineering that provides incredible views of one of the finest stretches of U.S. coastline.

Carmel River State Beach
Image for Carmel River State Beach

Carmel River State Beach

4.5/5(72 reviews)

If a restful vacation is part of your travel plans, Carmel River State Beach might be the perfect place to seek out during your trip to Carmel. Stroll along the seaside or visit the shops in the area.

Top things to do in Carmel

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed
Image for 4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed

$75
Per adult
96% of travellers recommend
Monterey, Carmel & Pacific Coast Highway - Full Day Tour
Image for Monterey, Carmel & Pacific Coast Highway - Full Day Tour

Monterey, Carmel & Pacific Coast Highway - Full Day Tour

$89
Per adult
88% of travellers recommend
Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)
Image for Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

$40
Per adult
Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Guided Driving Tour
Image for Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Guided Driving Tour

Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Guided Driving Tour

$8
Per adult
76% of travellers recommend
1-Hour Sea Car Tour
Image for 1-Hour Sea Car Tour

1-Hour Sea Car Tour

$65
Per adult
96% of travellers recommend
California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel
Image for California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel

California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel

$105
Per adult
94% of travellers recommend

Reviews of Carmel

4.7

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
723
5 - Excellent 75.15592515592516%
4 - Good
211
4 - Good 21.933471933471935%
3 - Okay
21
3 - Okay 2.182952182952183%
2 - Disappointing
5
2 - Disappointing 0.5197505197505198%
1 - Terrible
2
1 - Terrible 0.2079002079002079%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jun 2, 2020

Nice town to visit and relax

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 27, 2020

love carmel, i go every year

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Apr 28, 2020

Most of Carmel was closed due to the virus. I enjoyed the quiet walks, interesting architecture, beautiful beach and friendly locals.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 21, 2020

Carmel is quaint, walkable and friendly. The shops are fun to walk in with something always fun to buy.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 20, 2020

Clean air, quiet. Perfect spot to get away to read a book, walk/jog the beach.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 16, 2020

I have always enjoyed Carmel, from a honeymoon in 1960 to last week.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Carmel

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