Carmel (California)

Point Lobos State Park

Carmel-by-the-Sea, often called just Carmel, is five miles south of Monterey city in the Monterey Bay region of California.


"Go ahead, make my day."

Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood served one term as mayor of Carmel, from 1986 to 1988.

Carmel is a beautiful oceanside town on California's Highway 1, complete with dramatic views, white beaches, friendly locals and great food. A mostly upper-class destination for adults, the town itself is small – you can walk across the main part in five minutes – but filled with art galleries, cafes, restaurants and inns. Every evening, visitors gather on the pristine beach to watch colorful sunsets. Carmel's rocky coastline is picturesque but dangerous for boats, so unlike most coastal towns in California, it was never a good base for fishing. After the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, it became famous as an artist colony, and there are still several dozen art galleries in town.

Temperatures in September are perfect: 70-80°F (21-27°C) during the day and 50-60°F (10-16°C) at night. Bring sweaters and dress in layers for all-day activities.

Ocean Avenue is downtown's main street, sloping from the highway down to the beach, with many shops, coffee houses, and galleries.

Scenic Drive meanders along the curve of the beach. A packed dirt path along the roadside is a favorite with local joggers and dog-walkers. The town is especially dog-friendly with many lodging and dining accommodations welcoming the canine guests.

Carmel Valley is formed by the Carmel River, flowing some 20 miles from the Santa Lucia mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The town of Carmel Valley is located 12 miles inland from Highway 1, on Carmel Valley Road. Quite often when Carmel-by-the-Sea is fogged in, Carmel Valley is sunny and warm.

Get in

By car

By Highway 1 south from Monterey or northwards via Big Sur.

By bus

Take Monterey-Salinas Transit buses from Monterey.

By train

Amtrak's Coast Starlight stops in nearby Salinas. Amtrak runs a bus service from the station to Carmel with stops in Monterey in between. The train can be slow and is often delayed. The food is okay, but sometimes limited so you might want to bring your own food or snacks.

By air

Nearby Monterey Airport (IATA: MRY) offers connecting service through a number of different airlines. The airport also handles a large volume of private air traffic. San Jose Airport (IATA: SJC) is about a 90-minute drive away, but it is larger and usually has much cheaper flights.

Get around

There are no street numbers for homes or businesses in the main part of the town. Directions are given by street name and the nearest intersection.

There are almost no street lights at night, and the signs for restaurants and other businesses are not brightly lit.

The downtown area and nearby beach can be seen on foot, but a car is needed to explore the coastline. Street parking is generally free for a couple of hours at a time. There is also a garage at Carmel Plaza (Ocean and Junipero). Many hotels offer parking spots to guests, but be prepared for a tight squeeze. Scenic Drive sometimes yields surprisingly convenient (and free) parking spaces.

Bicycling is an option but should be undertaken with care, as many of Carmel's streets can be hilly or windy, or leave little room to pass.

There are a few local buses, but routes run primarily between Carmel and Monterey, rather than around Carmel.


San Carlos Borroméo Carmelo Mission (1771)



The village of Carmel is locally famous for art galleries boasting a variety of art. Openings are held frequently and often open to the public. Unique clothing and jewelry also represent a large portion of shopping in Carmel.


This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget under $10
Mid-range $10-$25
Splurge $25+





Most Carmel drinking revolves around local wines; be sure to indulge in a bottle, available at almost any food shop and every restaurant.

Several restaurants also offer bar areas; but an honest-to-goodness "pub crawl" would be hard to come by in this town.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget under $100
Mid-range $100-$200
Splurge $200+

Additional lodging options can be found just to the east in Carmel Valley, or to the north in Monterey.




Go next

Routes through Carmel

Santa Cruz Monterey  N  S  Big Sur San Luis Obispo
END  W  E  Carmel Valley Jct N S

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, December 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.