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Things to do in Carmel

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, Carmel-by-the-Sea is the perfect choice with its abundance of fantastic restaurants, art galleries, and shops, and its proximity to unlimited outdoor activities.

Almost everything in Carmel is close by, so strolling through town is an easy affair. After taking a leisurely walk through downtown you may wish to head back to your hotel and relax for a bit, before getting ready for the evening. Then meander back to town to unwind at one of Carmel’s many wine bars.

After tasting some great local wines you could visit one of the fantastic restaurants for dinner and revel in the chef’s creativity.

Looking for more ideas for things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea? Look no further!

1. Aquariums, Whale Watches & More

It's no secret that Carmel and the Monterey area have one of the world's best aquariums at Monterey Bay Aquarium. From fish, to otters, sea lions, and more, enjoy everything from educational series to exhibits and special events. If you're looking to connect with marine life out in the open water, consider hopping aboard a whale watch with Monterey Bay Whale Watch or Chris’ Whale Watching. Looking for a little bit of everything? Head to Fisherman’s Wharf Monterey where you'll find great restaurants (think seafood and incredible chowder), unique shops, fishing and sailing tours, bay cruises, and more. Looking to get your shop on? Hit the Carmel Plaza.

2. Hit the Links or Head to the Mountains


Whether you're an avid or casual golfer, there's no shortage of greens in the Carmel area, including the incomparable, oceanside Pebble Beach. Less than 5 miles from our hotel, Pebble Beach is rated the No. 1 public course in America and is a 6-time host of the U.S. Open. If you're able to get to play it, you're promised the round of a lifetime. Along the way, take the time to enjoy the world-famous 17-mile drive, one of the most scenic drives in the world, and visit the Lone Cypress tree.

Trouble getting a tee-time at Pebble Beach? There are a handful of other courses that are part of Pebble Beach Resorts in the coastal Del Monte Forest area that should not be missed, including Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, and Del Monte (the oldest 18-hole course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi, dating to 1897). Keep your eyes open for the new short course at Pebble Beach, set to open in 2021. Designed by Tiger Woods & TGR Design, the former Peter Hay Golf Course will consist of 9, par-3 holes.

Looking for more suggestions? We also highly recommend Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach and Bayonet & Black Horse in nearby Seaside, CA.

Hike & Explore

If hiking and exploring is more your thing, consider this region Shangri-La. It's hard to choose our favorites, but here is a shortlist to get you started—and don't forget to tag us in your Instagram shots!

3. Explore the Area on Two Wheels or by Sea

Gain a new perspective of the area by renting a bicycle (or e-bike!) and heading out for a cruise. We recommended stopping at a local deli or café to grab a picnic lunch before starting your exploration. Another way to see that area? Hitting the water! With a handful of local rentals shops, there's ample opportunity to explore the sea by kayak, paddleboard, and snorkeling.

4. Artistically Inclined

Stroll from gallery to gallery (or let the locals show you around during a Carmel Art Tour), viewing pieces from local artists. With all types of artwork being represented, everything from contemporary to classic to multimedia, each of these galleries offers up unique experiences and you can easily spend an afternoon strolling through each. Looking for a performing arts event to attend? Check out the Sunset Center–they host a multitude of events all year long.

5. Take a Tour

Enjoy the beauty and culture of Carmel and the Monterey Penisula by embarking on a guided tour. From movie tours to walking tours to "foodie" tours, embark on an adventure one afternoon during your visit to Carmel. Carmel Walks offers both guided and customized brochure tours, allowing you to explore everything from downtown to the stunning coastline, the redwoods, Big Sur, and more.

Other Tours Include:

6. Sip Your Way Through Monterey

California and wine are almost synonymous (Monterey County was voted as one of the top five worldwide wine destinations by the Wine Enthusiast!). With over 18 wine tasting rooms located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, you don't have to travel far to experience some of the world's best wines.

7. Become a Beach Bum

From surfing to lounging to long walks with the dog to building sandcastles, Carmel and Monterey County offer up a handful of sandy beaches that have something for everyone.  We have to admit, a beach day tops the list when it comes to our favorite things to do on Monterey!

8. Hit the Road

Big Sur is a 26-mile drive to the south along the stunningly beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline. Surrounded by the three million acres Los Padres National Forest, Big Sur offers magnificent scenery, camping, hiking, surfing, and countless other outdoor activities. Driving the 100-mile stretch of Highway 1 between Carmel and Cambria is awe-inspiring and will leave you breathless. Another option is to head to Pacific Grove. Famed as “The Last Hometown in America” Pacific Grove is conveniently sandwiched between Pebble Beach and Monterey and sits furthest out on the Monterey Peninsula. It’s a fantastic town with a beautiful downtown area with little shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. Pacific Grove is well known for its Victorian architecture with numerous gorgeous homes that can be admired throughout the town.