Plan Your Trip to Carmel California
Plan Your Trip to Carmel California
There’s a lot to see and do in Carmel by the Sea and the Monterey Peninsula. Whether you have just a couple of hours, a weekend or even longer, your time will be filled with fun. Choose from whale watching, a stroll along the beach with your dog, a little wine tasting, and so much more. We’ll help you kick off your trip planning with a few ideas.  Simply click on any of the tabs below to get started.
You just rolled into Carmel on your Tour Bus.  The bus pulls into one of the Tour Bus parking spaces on Junipero.  You have 2 hours of free time.  But you don’t know your way around town.  What should you do? Hungry?

  • Grab a quick bite ‘to go’ at any of these places
    • Nielsen Brothers Market – good take out sandwiches, snacks and drinks, and a patio where you can sit.
    • 5th Avenue Deli – lots of deli style take out items; no patio, but you can take your goodies to Devendorf Park or relax on one of the many benches in the beautiful gardens of historic Church of the Wayfarer, or sit on the open seating at the park at the northwest corner of 6th and Lincoln.
    • Bruno’s Market – another great grocery/deli where you can get terrific sandwiches and drinks. No seating so head to one of the parks mentioned above.
  • Want to sit and have a more relaxing meal but you still want some time to look around?
    • Little Napoli – really good Italian food and the service is pretty quick.
    • Carmel Belle – soups, salads, sandwiches you can order at the counter, with indoor tables and more seating outside

Want to See the Ocean?

  • From the tour buses it’s a 10 block walk down to the beach.  If you have good shoes, going down the hill to the beach is easy and a fun walk past the shops on Ocean Avenue.  You can even pick up some food ‘to go’ and picnic when you get to the beach. Walk straight down Ocean Avenue.  If you’re a good walker you’ll make the trip in 10 minutes. When you get to the end of the street you’ll have magnificent views of Carmel Beach, the ocean, and Pebble Beach Golf Course off to your right. Walking back up the hill is another story!

How About Some Shopping?

  • Your tour bus is parked right next to the Carmel Plaza, which includes 3 levels of shops.  Yeah!
  • Or, you can start walking down Ocean Avenue, which is the main street of Carmel. It’s full of shops and restaurants.
  • There are also 5 side streets that cross Ocean that are full of shops and places to eat.
  • If you are looking for something specific, such as art galleries, clothing, home accessories, or maybe just restrooms, check out our Love Maps that can help direct you.

Maybe You’d Like an Historic Walking Tour and Some Photo Opportunities!

  • The First Murphy House – located on the west side of Lincoln between 6th and 5th.  This is the first of about 300 houses the Michael J. Murphy built.  He was 17 at the time.  Murphy was the first builder in Carmel.  The First Murphy House is now home to the Carmel Heritage Society. If you picked up a ‘to go’ lunch you can picnic in the park that’s next to First Murphy House and have a view of the ocean.
  • Harrison Memorial Library – located on the northeast corner of Lincoln and Ocean and built in 1926 by Michael J. Murphy.
  • The Pine Inn – built in 1890 as the El Carmelo Hotel, the Pine Inn was moved to its present site on the north side of Ocean at Monte Verde in 1903.
  • Cottage of Sweets – Originally built in 1922 as a loom shop and located on Dolores and Ocean, the building was moved to Ocean and Monte Verde in 1923 to serve as a fanciful ticket booth for the Golden Bough Playhouse.  Sadly, the playhouse burned down in 1935 during a play called “By Candlelight”.  The theater was rebuilt on Monte Verde between 8th and 9th and, ironically, burned down in 1949 during another run of “By Candlelight”. The theater has been rebuilt and remains on Monte Verde today.  The ‘fanciful’ ticket booth became Cottage of Sweets.  Be sure to stop in to purchase some homemade fudge or other delectable treat!
  • Church of the Wayfarer – located at the northwest corner of 7th and Lincoln, Church of the Wayfarer is the oldest continuously operating church in the area. The church is at the geographic center of Carmel by-the-Sea and is built on land donated in 1903 by town founder Frank Devendorf.  The church bell was originally used to sound the town fire alarm.  Today the church gardens attract locals and visitors from all over the world.
  • The Tuck Box – located on the east side of Dolores between Ocean and 7th, the Tuck Box is the only fairy tale commercial building by famed architect Hugh Comstock.  It was built in 1926.
If you are coming into Carmel for the day, you’ll probably have a car and need to park.  That may sound easy, but parking in Carmel can be a challenge.  Here are some options:

  • Free Unlimited Parking
    • Vista Lobos Parking Lot – located behind the Vista Lobos building at the southeast corner of Junipero and 3rd.
    • The spaces along either side of the center median on Junipero between 5th and 3rd.
    • Most of the residential streets outside of the commercial district.  Check for signs.
  • Paid Parking in the Commercial District
    • In the Sunset Center lot at the southeast corner of 8th and San Carlos.  The lot runs between San Carlos and Mission.
    • The Carmel Plaza Parking Garage with the entrance on the east side of Mission, between 7th and Ocean (almost at the corner of 7th).

Shopping – Shopping in Carmel is really fun.  There are ‘brand name’ stores like Coach and Tommy Bahama, and lots of small, eclectic shops where you can find treasures to take home with you.  Ocean Avenue is the main street of stores, but you’ll find interesting shops along all the cross streets including Junipero, Mission, San Carlos, Dolores, Lincoln, and Monte Verde and the numbered streets including 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th.  If you are looking for something specific, be sure to check out our Love Maps. Meals – You can grab a quick ‘take out’ order, get a picnic meal for the beach, or enjoy a more relaxing breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  We know how hard it can be to come into town and wander around looking for a place to eat. So we set up a separate section for dining options that you can sort by your needs.  Whether you are looking for a place that’s ‘kid friendly’ or where you can dine with your pet, or lots of other options, check out our DINING section so you can plan ahead. Beach

  • Carmel Beach – If you want to spend a few hours at Carmel Beach and you need to park your car, you will probably find a space along 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, or 13th.  8th and 13th go all the way to Scenic, which is the road along the ocean.  If you park on the other streets, you’ll need to walk to 8th or 13th, although there are a few narrow walkways you can cut through.  There is parking on Scenic, but it’s limited.  There is also limited parking at the bottom of Ocean Avenue. The water temperature range is from 52 degrees to 64 degrees, depending on the time of year.
  • Carmel River State Beach – Drive west on Ocean or 8th (downhill toward the water). When you reach Scenic Avenue, turn left on the one way road and follow it out around Carmel Point until you reach Carmel River State Beach.  There’s a parking lot and restrooms.  You can enjoy the beach there, but swimming at Monastery Beach isn’t recommended because of the under tow.

Restrooms – Sometimes it’s the little things that make life better!  We can’t tell you how many times we have been walking in town when someone asks ‘Where is a restroom?” So we decided to put together a little map that just shows the restrooms in town.  You can check it out here.

Carmel is a great place for a Girls’ Weekend.  Enjoy a morning latte, unique shops, getting your nails done, relaxing with a massage, fabulous meals, wine tasting, and a great place to kick back at the end of the day.   Mocha in the Morning – Start your morning with a latte or mocha at one of several coffee shops in the village.

Shopping – Most shops open at 10am, although a quaint custom in Carmel is to see little, handwritten notes stuck in a shop’s door letting visitors know that the owner has stepped out for a bit.  Choose from shoes and clothing, jewelry and accessories, a unique Christmas Shop, antiques, toys, an eclectic guitar shop, art galleries, pet boutiques, bookshops, homewares, optical stores, and unique gifts. Click here to visit our local Carmel shops. Time for Lunch – Enjoy soups and salads, pastas, pizza, Mediterranean foods, French, Spanish, and California cuisine…all within a few blocks. Whether you want a cozy corner by the fireplace or a lively patio, you can find it in Carmel. Keep your eyes open….you never known when you may be sitting next to a celebrity! Visit our Dining section to find just the right place for your girls’ lunch. Spa Time – Hopefully you called ahead and booked a massage at Kush Day Spa, located on the east side of Lincoln between Ocean and 7th, tucked at the back of Morgan Court.  It’s right next to the Cypress Inn. Enjoy a massage or a facial in the early afternoon.  They are open 7 days a week from 9am until 6pm.  Be sure to call first at 831-624-4100. Read about them here. Or Pedicure Time – After lunch head toward Nails By The Sea, located on the southwest corner of Monte Verde and 7th. It’s cash only, but you’ll leave with a gorgeous pedicure and legs that feel like jelly after a soothing leg massage. Wine Tasting – With 15+ wine rooms within the one square mile called Carmel by-the-Sea, you won’t have to walk far to find some great wine tasting.  Leave your car parked at your hotel and get ready to enjoy. Check out our Wine Section for information on all the tasting rooms. And here are a few suggestions:

  • Scheid – located at the southeast corner of San Carlos and 7th, Scheid has a huge selection of wines and is one of the most lively wine tasting rooms in Carmel.
  • Galante – If you like Big Reds, you’ll love Galante and their western themed tasting room.  You’ll find Galante tucked at the back of the courtyard behind the Rodrigue Gallery on the west side of Dolores between Ocean and 7th.
  • Silvestri – Enjoy a bit of Hollywood with your wine at Silvestri.  Owner Alan Silvestri is a hollywood music legend, having created the music for movies including Forrest Gump, Avatar, Captain America, Back to the Future, and others. A digital poster display depicts many of the films. Alan occasionally stops by the tasting room.

Dinner Time – Got room for dinner?  Head back on over to our Dining Section to check out your options.  And here are a few suggestions:

  • Dametra Cafe – Think fun, think lively music, think great Mediterranean food. You’ll want a reservation for this popular spot on the southeast corner of Ocean and Lincoln.
  • Treehouse Cafe – There’s a heated, outdoor patio in the treetops at Treehouse Cafe and it’s just across the street from the Scheid tasting room.  Colorful umbrellas, good food, and a fun atmosphere make this a good choice for dinner.
  • Vesuvio – Start out at the rooftop deck with appetizers, comfy seating, and a great cocktail bar. If you still have room, the main dining room downstairs serves cuisine from southern Italy made from family recipes from the Pepe family.
Image of Otter for I Love Carmel California

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