Things to do in Carmel By The Sea

I’ve only lived here a short time, but I love to explore and share the gems I find with you guys.  Now that we’re going into the summer travel season I put together a “things to do in Carmel, CA” post.  So if you are thinking about planning a vacation to the Monterey and/or Carmel, CA area or maybe traveling through on Highway 1, here are some of my recommendations.

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If you don’t have time, hands down, do the Scenic Drive loop in Carmel.  I drive it at least twice a week and smile like it was my first time seeing it every.single.time.  I also take everyone who visits us there.  Major bonus points if you run it.

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It will take you right by the Carmel River State Beach {pic above}. The sand is steep and makes for the perfect, giant crashing waves.  Though, I don’t recommend swimming/surfing/boogie boarding because of the typical rugged California coastline.  So bring a picnic, spread out a blanket, layer on the sunscreen and enjoy the free show.

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Take a walk down Ocean Avenue in Carmel By The Sea.  There are tons of high end boutique’s, art stores, restaurants & coffee shops.  It’s charming, quaint + very eclectic.  Pay attention to your surroundings because there are a lot of hidden/secret passageways.  If you keep walking westbound, you’ll run right into the Carmel off leash beach.

If you’re in the mood for gourmet pizza, go to my favorite restaurant in the entire world, La Bicyclette.    

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If wine tasting is your thing, head over to Carmel Valley.  There are more than 15 wineries within a couple blocks of each other.  Plus other specialty shops mixed in.  I love dig their community mentality.

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My personal favorite wineries are Joyce, Mercy + Talbott.

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One of those specialty shops that Mike and I like to go to every time we go is the Quail & Olive.  They have several types of olive oil & fantastic balsamic vinegars.  You can sample them all!  This place is a must. 

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The Bixby Bridge is a must see!  It’s about 15 miles south and the drive will blow your freaking mind.  There are a lot of places to pull over, get out and take it all in. 


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There is A LOT more to see, so I will be updating this post as I explore. 

Are you going on vacation this summer?  I want all the deets!

When exploring new places, how do you find the cool stuff to hit up?

We use Google, but find the best thing to do is ask the locals.  Then there are the times we get lost and stumble into some gems, which is a lot of fun as well.

If I come to visit you, what would you recommend I experience?


22 Comments on “Things to do in Carmel By The Sea

  1. Holy sheet J! I would have failed my geography test if asked where Carmel was! I thought it was in SoCal. Forgive my stupidity please… The first 2 pics make me jelly and miss home (north shore Haleiwa Hi). That beach is in Carmel? I have relatives in NorCal and when I was young, used to go to Santa Cruz…all I remember was haze and fog. You’re stomping grounds are beeeeeautiful! No wonder you were wearing long sleeves. I bet with the location and see breeze, it’s quite cozy! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ha no worries, Santa Cruz is about 40 minutes north & I love visiting. Have you ever been to Capitola? It’s one of my favorite lazy beach towns.
      We have Indian summers so it’s usually foggy & chilly in the summer months. It’s our first summer here so this is what the locals have told us. BTW Hawaii ain’t half bad. 🙂

      • Ok, here’s a first… a double post J!. Because I was like, NO WAY that beach is up north from SoCal. It seriously looks like a beach from back home. So I did some research and now I gottah make this part of my racecations next year. The capitola run looks like a good excuse to check out carmel. AirBnB has rooms for $85 a night…It seems you need what you like to call some (major) scrilla to get prime real estate there…unless you know Clint Eastwood. Geez, I’m glad to know places like this exist that’s not part of the SD/OC/LA scene. Of course nothing wrong with those places, but nice to know I can find something further north towards the Bay where my relatives are.

  2. SERIOUSLY!!!!!! I’m so jealous!!! Ps If we were neighbors we would probably be at the wineries frequently but it would be ok because we would run together (or bike) in the AM….

    Our vacays are local until brady and ella are a bit older…we usually do the NYC, Long Island, and Jersey thing… there is sooo much to do and it’s not TOO far…

    In order to find the hidden gems and hot spots I usually ask the locals.. .not to mention I have enough friends on social media that either I know someone personally or they know someone who knows all the best places…

    If you came to visit me, first I would feel sorry for you because there is little to nothing to do here BUT I would recommend you come in the fall because the northeast is the most beautiful then and there are so many things to do… I would suggest we head out west and hit up the wineries and maybe make it to the 7 story mall in Syracuse – Desiny USA.. OR if you came int he summer I would force you to meet me in NYC then head out to Montauk and the Hamptons…

    • Then I want to be your neighbor!! Seriously I’d love a running/cycling buddy.
      NYC is on my bucket list though Mike finds that funny because I don’t like huge crowds.
      I grew up in a city with not much to do so don’t feel bad at all. We’d just get creative & make our own fun!

      • I feel like there would be a lot of drinking in our adventures… There is something magical about NYC… I’m bias though…. There is sooo much to do, great food, amazing shopping, and soooo much culture…. IF I could afford it, it’d live right on Central Park and run there everyday!

  3. We don’t have a vacation planned yet, but it looks so beautiful there I hope I can convince my husband to go there!! We need a vacation with all we have going on!

  4. You live in such a beautiful place!! We have a few weekend trips to the beach planned, but nothing big. Asking locals is the way to go! That’s how we always find the best restaurants. If you were to come visit me I would apologize several times for not having anywhere cool to take you except into the country for peach ice cream.

  5. This post reminds me that it’s been way too long since we’ve spent a day in Carmel! I’m also pretty sure that my hubby and I should spend our next weekend away in Carmel Valley. We’ve heard such great things, but never spent any time there.

    It’s so true about the scenic drive–it doesn’t get more gorgeous than that. Breathtakingly beautiful.

    But really, people should be visiting in the spring, not summer! In the summer it’s much more likely to be overcast and cold. Still beautiful, though.

  6. That bridge might freak me out but I think it would be worth it for the views!!!
    I love wineries!!
    No big trips this summer – downside of having a new business.

  7. I LOVE where you live and I spent a lot of time there as a kid.
    No vacations for us..too many small kids and not enough $!
    If you came to Utah I’d take you up to the mountains. They are stunning!
    We could do every outdoor activity you could imagine.
    I’d take you to Temple Square because …well, when in Rome!
    There’s surprisingly A LOT to do and see here.

  8. My friend and I (both in Germany) literally booked all our hotels for our California vacation today. We will drive Route 1 and have an extra night left over that we want to use spontaneously before driving to Yosemite the next day. Big Sur is on the to do list as well!

  9. If I didn’t love the south so much, I would be working out a way to move there right now. So gorgeous. I bet you pinch yourself everyday with those views.

  10. If you came to NS, I’d take you to a famous lighthouse called “Peggy’s Cove”. It’s a lighthouse on a bunch of rocks…but it’s pretty cool to climb and walk around. We would be running through our city park, and eating ice cream in a little garden area that is a beauty. Of course, we’d have coffee in this little area called the Hydrastone that have cutie shops to browse through. We’d also hike an area called Cape Split that leads us to a wonderful lookoff with an amazing view!

  11. My family and I stopped in Carmel as part of our vacation 2 years ago! It is beautiful there! This summer we are going to Wyoming with the whole fam to celebrate my youngest sister graduating from high school! It is going to be such an adventure – lots of hiking, kayaking, and maybe even some mountain biking!

  12. Come ride 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach with us when we go back in August! Then we can all go to Cowgirl Winery in Carmel Valley. I love the clothes they sell there and their jewelry too. Have you been to Lula’s in CBTS? Love their chocolate! We live in St. Louis and if you came to visit us we would take you to Forest Park. It’s bigger then Central Park and it has awesome running and riding trails. The STL Art Museum, History Museum, golf course, The Muny, The Boat House restaurant are just a few places in Forest Park we would take you. You can have a gondola ride or take a row boat out with a picnic. We love to train for our races in Forest Park. Let us know if your ever in STL!

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