Visit Beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea. No exploration of California’s central coast is complete without a visit to Carmel. This town is well known for its shopping, as well as for its most famous former civil servant, Mayor Clint Eastwood. This quaint blend of art galleries, boutiques, hotels, shops, fine restaurants and whimsically styled homes gives out a storybook ambiance that can be appreciated by romantics of all ages. It’s no wonder why Travel + Leisure has named it as one of the “World’s Best Cities for Romance.”
Carmel’s rugged coastline, featuring both sandy beaches and rocky, cypress-covered outcroppings, has provided inspiration for artists of every stripe. On any evening, you will find town residents enjoying the beauty of a Carmel sunset at Carmel Beach while watching surfers ply the waves. Just a mile south, Carmel River State Beach is a popular spot for diving, kayaking, surfing and birding. Don’t forget to visit Point Lobos State Reserve, the crown jewel of the State Park system, which is photographed by artists and tourists intent on capturing its astounding beauty. A Carmel California Vacation has plenty to offer; plenty of designer stores, gourmet eateries and upscale art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents. You’ll find most shoppers and diners around picturesque Ocean Avenue, which leads to Carmel Beach. For a list of all the area beaches << Click Here >>.
Carmel Weather (When to Visit)
The best time to visit Carmel is in the early fall when temperatures are still warm but room rates are less expensive. During this time, hotel rates are going to be less than in during the summer. Temperatures are in the high 60s, a few degrees colder than what you could experience during peak season. The busiest season in Carmel is in the summer, so expect hotel rates to surge during this period. Try avoiding the Concours week (August 14th – 21st) and September 1st – 4th (Labor Day Weekend) if you’re on a budget; accommodation rates are the highest during these weeks. Be prepared for some rain if you go to Carmel during the winter, there are 12 days with precipitation each month on average.
Best Carmel Area Beaches
On Carmel Bay, the mile-long beach features a bird sanctuary in a lagoon (just before the Carmel River empties into the sea) featuring a wide variety of waterfowl and song birds. Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach, is part of the park and is popular with scuba divers. Swimming, wading or walking near the ocean can be extremely dangerous at this beach.
Gibson Beach – Point Lobos
Gibson Beach is the southernmost beach in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It’s also the best “beach” in this park which is full of rocky bluffs and small pocket coves. This park is popular and can fill up entirely – getting here early on nice days is key.
China Cove – Point Lobos
China Cove is a narrow deep sandy beach surrounded by rock walls. At low tide you can find a small cave and a rock arch in the south wall. China Cove is an emerald green cove with a tiny pocket beach in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
This beautiful sandy beach is popular on sunny days, but it is not a swimming beach. Due to its shape there is a severe undertow and rip current in the cove that can suck swimmers out to certain death.
Garrapata State Park Beach
The park has two miles of beach front, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a beautiful view of the Pacific. The park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves. The park also features outstanding coastal headlands at Soberanes Point. Sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters frequent the coastal waters and California gray whales pass close by during their yearly migration.
Best Carmel Area Restaurants
Flaherty’s Seafood and Grill $11 – 30
At Flaherty’s Seafood and Grill, Fish is among one of their most important aspects in the restaurant! Fresh fish in delivered two or three times a day. Are you aware that the majority of fish served at other restaurants is frozen? Customers here rave about the overall quality of the restaurant quite often. With their extensive non-seafood and gluten free menus, you’ll never feel out of place. Telephone: 831 625-1500 Web: Flaherty’s Seafood and Grill.
Flying Fish Grill $31 – 60
Proprietors Tina & Kenny Fukumoto welcome you to the Flying Fish Grill, in Carmel, California. Enter the discreet Carmel Plaza entrance leading you to comfortably dim lighting, wood walls, and subtle Asian decor. Diners are delighted by their distinctive offerings, ranging from salmon to lobster to abalone, plus clay pot dishes bursting with noodles, broth and seafood, beef or vegetables. Telephone: 831 625-1962 Web: Flying Fish Grill.
Aubergine $31 – 60
The award winning restaurant Aubergine is located at L’Auberge Carmel, Relais & Châteaux in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Executive Chef Justin Cogley, a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef, and Executive Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza prepare skillful, ingredient-driven cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the region. Chef Cogley’s cuisine showcases the finest ingredients with a razor-sharp balance of deference and innovation. Telephone: 831 624-8578 Web: Aubergine.
Basil $11 – 30
Menu based on seasonal products, locally grown produce & organic ingredients, fresh wild and sustainable seafood every day, modern & creative local California cuisine. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options are available. Carmel’s First Certified Green Restaurant. Reservations are required especially on the weekends due to a very limited indoor seating capacity. Telephone: 831 626-8226 Web: Basil.
Enzo Ristorante Italiano $31 – 60
If a Western Mediterranean version of life exists, you will find it nestled between Ocean ave and Seventh st on San Carlos Street in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The European style village nestled above a picturesque white sandy beach is the perfect backdrop to “ENZO”. At Enzo, you will be beckoned by the rustically charming patios surrounded by draping bougainvillea on a sun drenched day or the cozy and simplistic interior warmed by the fireplace when the cool fog blankets the coast. Telephone: 831 624-6545 Web: Enzo Ristorante Italiano
Best Carmel Bars
Centrally located on the corner of 4th & San Carlos in downtown Carmel. Brophy’s offers hand-crafted cocktails, cold draft beer, 7 large screen TV’s, and the best pub fare in town. Telephone: 831 586-5566 Web: Brophy’s Tavern.
Barmel By The Sea
No nonsense bar with quality liquors, fresh juices, great happy hour, friendly staff. They feature live music Thurs-Sat 7pm-9pm and DJs on Thurs-Sat 9:30pm-1am. Telephone: 831 626-3400 Web: Barmel By The Sea.
Mulligan Public House
A cozy, fun filled gastro pub serving American comfort food, sports and lively conversation. Our heated patio is dog friendly and a great place to enjoy a libation with friends or celebrate that special occasion. We are proud to serve locally sourced food cooked fresh daily. Telephone: 831 250-5910 Web: Mulligan Public House
A W Shucks Cocktail & Oyster Bar
Enjoy their fabulous oyster bar, clam chowder, calamari, fish & chips, burgers, salads & more. Full bar includes 90 scotches, 55 bourbons, 50 vodkas, 45 tequilas, 28 gins, cocktails, beer, and wine. Try their “Best Bloody Mary” in a fun and casual atmosphere. Telephone: 831 624-6605 Web: A W Shucks Cocktail & Oyster Bar.
They have fantastic Fish and Chips….and also a great burger and fresh cut fries. They have the ONLY public pool table in Carmel and three flat screen HD TV’s. Join them for a pint, a match, or take some friends to challenge in darts or billiards. Telephone: 831 625-5500 Web: Flanagan’s Pub.
Best Carmel Hotels & VRBO Vacation Properties