Guides

things-to-do-in-carmel

With its location on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, there are numerous things to do in Carmel outdoors and indoors, from kayaking and hiking to wine tasting and fine art galleries.

It’s just as easy to arrange a whale watching tour or scuba diving adventure as it is to spend an afternoon shopping or lounging on the beach. Beyond its natural beauty, Carmel is best known for its artist galleries, elegant resorts and bed and breakfast getaways, exceptional jewelry designers and fine wines. Here are some of its top destinations.

Find more things to do with the Carmel Attractions Directory and Events Calendar.

[Photo credit: Pebble Beach Resorts]

  • Carmel Art Galleries

    Various Locations

    Carmel is well known for its arts scene and a variety of galleries offer works by famous artists and sculptors from around the world. Carmel Art Association on Dolores, between 5th and 6th Street, features many local artists from the early days of Carmel while more modern galleries are peppered throughout Carmel Village and Carmel Valley.

    More Info

  • Local Wines

    Various Locations

    The Carmel region has emerged as a popular wine destination with several boutique wineries calling the area home. Carmel Village has more than 10 tasting rooms within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and lodging, eliminating the need to drive after tastings. The Carmel Valley, a short drive east of Carmel Village also has a great selection of wine tasting and local wineries that really shine, including some Wine Spectator gold and silver award winners.

    More Info

  • Dining Adventures in Carmel

    Various Locations

    Dining around Carmel is a global food experience with cuisines from around the world offered at a variety of restaurants in Carmel Village. Many destination restaurants put an emphasis on local seafood and other locally sourced ingredients from nearby farms in the Salinas Valley and beyond.

    More Info

  • Golf

    Various Locations

    The Monterey Peninsula is world famous for its golf courses, including the crown jewel of California golf, Pebble Beach. Pacific Grove Course is a local favorite, overlooking Asilomar Beach and the Point Pinos Lighthouse on the Peninsula. With 16 golf courses within a 15-minute drive of Carmel, golfers have numerous options for a tee time. The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is a popular annual event in February that draws big crowds with its pairing of celebrities with professional golfers.

    More Info

  • Carmel Mission Basilica

    3080 Rio Road, Carmel

    Built in 1771, this national landmark is now fully restored with its basilica and museum offering a history of mission life in Early California. The museum is the final resting place of Father Junipero Serra, which attracts thousands of visitors yearly with its convenient location just off Highway 1. The Jo Mora sculpture gallery is also located here. Be sure to check the schedule to avoid closures for weekly mass, weddings or other special events.  

    More Info

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium

    886 Cannery Row

    Located just over the hill from Carmel Village, Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the world’s best representations of an ecologically minded ocean aquarium. Cutting-edge ocean exhibits feature everything from sea otters to jelly fish. A sustainable café inside the building offers a great stop for a break with outdoor seating featuring an amazing view of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary with sea life, seals, pelican and crustaceans just steps away. This is a definite must see for first-time visitors to the area.

    More Info

  • Coastal Hiking at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

    Box 62, Carmel

    Three miles south of Carmel Village, Point Lobos State Park offers a great day of easy hiking with awesome views of ocean, sea life and majestic cliffs surrounding Monastery Bay and north toward Pebble Beach and Carmel. Whalers Cove Museum provides details on the history of this area, dating back to the indigenous tribes that lived here more than 2,500 years ago. Visitors can park outside and walk in for a day hike or pay the parking fee to use the picnic areas and enjoy easy access to the coastal trails the overlook the rocky coast. Open 8am to 7pm unless closed due to weather conditions. Tip: Docents at the kiosk near Cypress Grove Trail will loan visitors binoculars to take on the trail for a better look at the wildlife.

    More Info

  • Point Sur Lighthouse

    Highway 1, south of Carmel

    http://www.pointsur.org This is a great day trip by car for those looking for adventure, amazing views and a certified historic, turn of the century lighthouse. The light station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public, normally 10am to 2pm, with hours changing seasonally. The drive to this destination is not for the faint at heart, but the 360-degree view at the vista is worth the trip. Point Sur was in operation from 1889 to 1974. Now, recurring “Ghost Mystery Dinners” are a popular attraction. Visitors have been known to feel the presence of the previous Captain and say it is only a "friendly ghost" like Casper. Tours are offered most days with reservations recommended.

    More Info

  • Tor House & Hawk Tower

    26304 Ocean View Ave., Carmel

    This granite stone house stands out as Carmel poet Robinson Jeffers’ home overlooking Carmel Bay. Jeffers built the tower and rustic stone home out of granite boulders, hand drawn from Carmel Bay, in 1918 for his wife and family. It is now a museum of his poetic works that also showcases the beginnings of the artistic community in Carmel. The aptly titled Hawk tower here offers unparalleled views of the bay and beyond. This a family friendly attraction and an easy walk from Carmel’s main beaches along Scenic Drive. Tours are held hourly Fridays and Saturdays 10am to 3pm.

    More Info

  • Cannery Row

    Cannery Row Blvd.

    One of the most photographed streets on the Monterey Bay, Monterey’s Cannery Row was made famous as the location of John Steinbeck's novel that shares the same name. What was once a rough waterfront village is now filled with tourist shops and restaurants and businesses that support eco-tourism at the National Marine Sanctuary. The revived “Row” sports luxury hotels and fine dining, along with a glut of souvenir shops and attractions.

    More Info

  • Monterey Wharf

    Wharf 1, Monterey

    Monterey’s Wharf offers ocean fishing, whale watching, seafood and other activities throughout the year. With the mild climate of Central Coastal California, fishing, kayaking, boating and sailing services are within a walk from downtown Monterey hotels and inns. Wharf dining is famous for locally sourced clam chowder, calamari, salmon, crabs and oysters. Seawater taffy and delicious sourdough bread bowls made famous in San Francisco are a local favorite here, as well. For the morning risers, there is a great French crepe café, Crepes of Brittany, overlooking the inner wharf bay and the old Custom House of Monterey, where boats paid their tariffs when in port Monterey in 1800s.

    More Info

  • Point Pinos Lighthouse

    80 Asilomar Avenue, Pacific Grove

    This is the oldest lighthouse continuously in operation on the West Coast. Built in 1855, it has guided many ships to safety at Monterey Bay and is located on a beautiful point overlooking the windward side of Monterey Bay and Asilomar. The views and yard are charming, surrounded by the PG Golf Course and usually lots of deer. This is a great, somewhat off-the-radar spot for golfers and history buffs.

    More Info