Things to Do in Carmel
Tucked along the California coastline is Carmel-by-the-Sea - more affectionately named Carmel. This small city (established in 1902 and incorporated finally into the state in 1916) is settled along the Pacific Ocean, affording it spectacular scenery and Mediterranean breezes. Within it waits an endless array of activities and all are certain to please on vacation in Carmel.
Point Lobos State Reserve: Seek out nature at the Point Lobos State Reserve. Founded in 1973, this park offers Carmel’s best views. Explore the Ecological Preservation Area for white shores and tidal pools. The State Marina offers almost six square miles of whale watching and harbor seal sightings. The Conservation Area is filled to hatcheries and cliff-sides. Monterey Cypress trees (found only in Carmel and Monterey) sprout in wild groves. And kelp forests grow beneath Whalers Cove. Point Lobos is open daily. No guests are allowed within the park after 6:30 p.m., however, and visitor numbers are strictly monitored to avoid overcrowding. Individuals may be expected to wait up to an hour before entering to maintain order.
Carmel River Beach: Discover the Pacific at Carmel River Beach. A one mile stretch along the coast, this protected park offers golden sand and impressive waves -- making it ideal for surfers and scuba-divers alike. Seek out the River Lagoon, which empties into the Point Lobos State Reserve. Kayak the San Jose Creek. Dive off Monastery Pike and search beneath the surface. Water enthusiasts will find much to do. Carmel River Beach is open throughout the year. It should be noted that the weather is extremely changeable here, however. Rain is common and must be planned for.
The Cottage of Sweets: Indulge in flavor (and childhood pleasure). The Cottage of Sweets is one of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s most popular shops; and guests will quickly see why. This charming store mimics a fairy-tale cottage. And inside is a collection of homemade fudge and licorice, as well as international candies. It’s the perfect way to end the afternoon. The Cottage of Sweets is open Monday through Saturday.
Mountainsong Galleries: Art is offered in California. Mountainsong Galleries is a celebration of local craftsmen and their wares -- handmade decor, photographs, oil paintings, glass sculptures and more are all on display. Exhibitions of regional artists provide endless entertainment; and guests are welcomed to debate pieces over coffee. Private viewings are available but Mountainsong is open daily. No appointments are required.
The Palo Corona Regional Park: Explore Carmel-by-the-Sea and its undeveloped countryside. The Palo Corona Regional Park -- established in 2004 -- provides visitors with 4,300 acres of untouched ecosystems. Trek to one of the 13 watersheds. Discover the Joshua Creek Preserve and its wildlife habitats. Hike through the Ventana Wilderness to see the beginnings of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Inspiration Point offers stellar views at an 850 foot elevation. And Monterey Peninsula Park provides picnicking opportunities. Palo Corona is open from dawn until dusk. There are no admission fees but donations are welcomed.
Hog’s Breath Inn: Indulge in rustic charm at the Hog’s Breath Inn. This unusually named restaurant is one of Carmel’s most favored locations. Its brick walls, curved archways and sprawling veranda mark it as an intimate experience; and its hearty menu -- which features pub-style foods and smoky flavors -- is certain to please. Try the Dirty Harry Dinner and its offerings of savory sirloin and roasted garlic potatoes. Pair this with a local California wine for the ultimate meal. The Hog’s Breath Inn is open for afternoon and evening services. No reservations are needed.
Carmel-by-the-sea is a destination for those craving the beauty of nature and the comforts of a city on vacation on the California coast.