Carmel-by-the-Sea is a top weekend getaway destination with so much for visitors to enjoy. From a unique culinary scene to beautiful gardens to incredible shopping opportunities, this enchanting California coastal town has a lot of fun experiences. Being one of the most walkable towns, a weekend trip is bound to be one of a kind.
Visitors will encounter several lavish homes and luxury hotels and resorts to match. Everyone will find something interesting in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is full of pristine beaches, art galleries, a fantastic wine collection, and more. Here is the ultimate travel guide for a weekend (plus) in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
When To Visit Carmel-By-The-Sea
Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, USA
With a Mediterranean climate, Carmel-by-the-Sea’s weather is splendid year-round, and temperatures range between 57 degrees (Fahrenheit) and 65 degrees. In the fall, the town is full of sunny mornings, warm afternoons, and cool nights.
Winters are mild, springs are cool, and summers are full of foggy months. The fog goes away by around 9:00 am in Carmel Valley, and by 11:00 am on the coast.
September to November is the best time to explore this part of California because it is when the weather is most favorable, full of sunny days.
- Best time to visit: September-November
How Can You Get To And Around Carmel-By-The Sea
To get to Carmel-by-the-Sea, flying into Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) is the easiest way. Other airports to use are San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC).
Whether traveling from north or south, Highway 1 is the way to get to one of the most beautiful towns in the U.S. Turn left on the Ocean Avenue exit and drive up to the village Carmel-by-the-Sea. From there, everything is a stone-throw-away.
When it comes to getting around the city, Carmel-by-the-Sea is all walkable, and vacationers can explore most of it on foot. Tourists will spot numerous art galleries, shops, restaurants, and cafés.
However, if planning to explore the coastal area, visitors will need to rent cars if they don’t have them. Parking is always free for the first two hours. Another parking option is with the hotels, in their garages or parking lots, but they are not always available.
There are free spots that travelers can use for parking along the Scenic Road, along the beach.
Where To Stay In Carmel By-The-Sea
Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, USA
Tickle Pink Inn
Overlooking the beautiful coastline of Big Sur, Tickle Pink Inn is a charming hotel and has been named among the top romantic hotels in America by TripAdvisor, one of the top 500 hotels in the world by Travel and Leisure, and one of the top 10 hotels in Northern California by Conde Nast Traveler.
- Address: 155 Highland Drive, Carmel, CA 93923-9601
- Amenities: Free parking, free high-speed internet (Wi-Fi), hot tub, free breakfast, newspaper, non-smoking hotel, and laundry service.
- Cost: $$
Quail Lodge & Golf Club
Quail Lodge & Golf Club is located a few minutes from The Barnyard and Monterey Museum of Art and offers the best stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The lodge’s rooms are stylish and feature incredible amenities.
- Address: 8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923
- Amenities: Outdoor pool, fitness center, restaurant, bar/lounge, room service, free Wi-Fi, tea/coffee maker, coffee machine, free parking, and business center.
- Cost: $$
Located in the heart of the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Normandy Inn is only three blocks from Carmel Beach. Its rooms are beautiful and come with free high-speed internet.
- Address: Ocean Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923
- Amenities: Outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, coffee machine, free parking, Wi-Fi available in all areas, cable or satellite TV, toiletries, internet, and spa.
- Cost: $
Where To Eat In Carmel-By-The-Sea
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA
- From Scratch Restaurant: Located in Barnyard Shopping Village, this local eatery is a perfect breakfast option. The menu is extensive and includes cinnamon roll pancakes, banana walnut pancakes, eggs Florentine, veggie Florentine, huevos rancheros, cappuccino, double espresso, fresh organic coffee, and more.
- Sur at The Barnyard: This is one of the best lunch restaurants in Carmel, and offers an unforgettable dining experience. The menu includes green beans served with cashew nut crumble, Asian nachos, Sicilian meatballs, tempura jumbo prawns, and more.
- Flying Fish Grill: A great option for dinner, Flying Fish Grill offers exquisite dining, with an incredible East/West fusion. Ranging from tasty seafood to clay pot dishes to beef and vegetables, an incredible dining experience is guaranteed here.
Best Things You Can Do In Carmel-By-The-Sea
Visit The Best Carmel Beaches
- Carmel Beach: No matter how many days or hours travelers are planning to spend in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Beach should never miss on the bucket list. Stretching for about two miles, strolling along the beach is relaxing, whether it’s sunrise or after dark. It is always among the top attractions to explore in this charming village. It is dog friendly, and offers other fun activities, including picnicking, surfing, swimming, and catching spectacular sunsets.
- Carmel River State Beach: Accessible from the south part of the city, Carmel River State Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand, surrounded by Carmel River Lagoon Wetlands Natural Preserve. The beach is known for its high population of birds. It is also a popular spot for photography, thanks to the incredible wildlife. Swimming, kayaking, and beachcombing are other fun things to do here.
- Bison Beach: Located within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, at the southern end, Bison Beach is a stunning sandy beach, reachable on a short hike. Popular activities include beachcombing, wildlife spotting, scuba diving, tide pooling, and hiking.
- China Cove: Also found within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, China Cove boasts one of the most spectacular natural sceneries, making it a hotspot among photographers and one of the best coastal gems for beach lovers. The cove features emerald-green waters surrounded by stunning greenery. It is definitely among the most beautiful beaches in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Spend Some Time In Carmel Mission
Initially known as San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission as a Roman Catholic Mission in 1797, this place is worth visiting. It’s now a small beautiful museum with fascinating exhibits and runs Sunday masses.
Explore Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California, US
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a must-visit for outdoorsy travelers. Being one of the most popular attractions, it can be crowded, sometimes. There are miles of trails leading to some of the most spectacular sights in the city.
Some of the places to not miss are the Whaler’s Museum, China Cove, and the Devil’s Cauldron near Sea Lion Rocks.
Enjoy The Beautiful Displays Of The Local Talent In Art Galleries
Carmel’s art galleries are known to be striking. The galleries have incredible collections of art from both nationally recognized to local artists.
Even when not buying any piece, just strolling and window shopping can be fulfilling. Some of the places to check include Carmel Art Association, Weston Gallery, and Gallery by the Sea Carmel.
Spending A Perfect Day In Carmel-By-The-Sea
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA
While a day may not be enough to explore what this charming town has to offer, there are a few things that would offer a beautiful experience on a day trip. Vacationers can start their day by visiting a local restaurant for a cup of tea. Scratch is a great spot to opt for because it offers amazing vegan and vegetarian dishes matched with quality services.
From here, it is better to head to Carmel Beach if a beach was on the bucket list. Carmel Beach can get pretty crowded during the day, so a visit in the morning would be a perfect time. Visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve for scenic hikes and breathtaking views of the ocean.
Come back downtown and enjoy what it has to offer. From wonderful boutique shops to fine dining, Downtown Carmel will blow visitors’ minds. Head to Dolores Street and spend some time in Gallery Mar, one of the best art galleries in town.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is full of fun adventures, shopping, food, and stylish hotels & resorts to match. Whichever kind of trip vacationers are planning, a visit to this California icon is always worth it.
Q: Is Carmel-by-the-Sea worth visiting?
Carmel-by-the-Sea is full of fun adventures, shopping, food, and stylish hotels & resorts to match. Carmel-by-the-Sea does have a reputation for being a bit pricey, but no matter what kind of trip vacationers are planning, a visit to this California icon is always worth it.
Q: What are the best months to visit Carmel?
September to November is the best time to explore this part of California because it is when the weather is most favorable, full of sunny days. Knowing what to expect can help travelers prepare for a trip in any season.
Q: What should I do in Carmel-by-the-Sea?
There are many things that vacationers can do in Carmel-by-the-Sea, including its pristine beaches, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel Mission, and art galleries. Whether visiting Carmel for a day trip, weekend getaway, or weeks, there is never a shortage of things to see and do.
Q: Do you need a car in Carmel?
Carmel-by-the-Sea is all walkable, and vacationers can explore most of it on foot. Tourists will spot numerous art galleries, shops, restaurants, and cafes. However, if planning to explore the coastal area, visitors will need to rent cars if they don’t have them. Parking is always free for the first two hours. Another parking option is with the hotels, in their garages or parking lots, but they are not always available. There are free spots that travelers can use for parking along the Scenic Road, along the beach.
Q: What are the best luxury hotels in Carmel?
Popular luxury hotels in Carmel include Tickle Pink Inn, Quail Lodge & Golf Club, and Normandy Inn. There are many options for accommoations that cover all travelers, regardless of their budgets.