Sitting on the panoramic California coast lies a small city that is as unique in history as it is in it’s name. Carmel-by-the-sea (Yes, that is it’s official name, though it’s typically shortened to Carmel) is a lesser-known city that has cultivated some of the most influential names in nearly every field. If you’re a musician you can appreciate Doris Day’s or Carrie Lucas’ time spent here. Maybe you’re a literary fanatic? Then you can appreciate the fact the Jack London, Mary Austen and Upton Sinclair all called this city home at one point. Whether you’re into politics, photography, or sports, Carmel has been home to someone influential in that field at one point or another. Heck, even Clint Eastwood was the Mayor of this eclectic city. Carmel-by-the-sea is ripe with character and idyllic views, making it a must see location to rest your tired eyes and get a reset on life.
Why go to Carmel-by-the-sea?
At the turn of the century, the bay area was a magnet for artists of every sort, but when the 1906 earthquake devastated the city many were forced to leave. This is where Carmel came into play. With extremely reasonable living arrangements and the already thriving Carmel Arts and Crafts Club, the city quickly became a safe haven for artists everywhere. Carmel-by-the-sea had been inundated with so many artists, in fact, that the Newspaper “The San Francisco Call” reported that 60% of the population of Carmel were full time artists. They dedicated a full page on the artist colony that was formed. Now, the city is known for it’s kind faces, great views, and endless amounts of character. Even if you’re just looking for a romantic getaway or a weekend spa trip, Carmel has everything you’ll need. Don't expect to just sit inside all day if you're visiting Carmel. The city’s untouched coastal views, picturesque walking routes, and treasure-trove of unique cafes and boutiques are more than enough incentive to get you to take a break from the spas and get outside. Not only is the city filled with places to see and things to do, it seems like nothing in Carmel is out of walking distance. You could spend your whole day walking place to place and still end up back at your Bed and Breakfast without feeling like your legs are about to drop off. In fact, the city’s website even has a list of different day-long walking routes you can take to get the most out of your stay, no matter how long. Another great attribute of Carmel’s is it's proximity to so many other great towns. It sits just a short 4 miles from everything the city of Monterrey has to offer, and you could always take a 40 minute trip south to Big Sur for some scenery and relaxation. Even if you're looking for a getaway from your getaway, Carmel still has you covered.
What to do in Carmel-by-the-sea?
The Carmel Art Association is a must see if you are heading to the city. Built in 1927, it’s the oldest gallery in Carmel and offers a look at works from artists who have resided here in the past as well as local artist’s of today. With works from over 100 artists, you will not run out of great pieces to enjoy. Plus, they only feature artists from the greater Monterrey area so you are sure to see some unique art each time you visit as well as an insight to how this city has inspired!
The Wine Walk-by-the-sea is much more than just a clever play on words; it’s a wino’s wildest dream. For just $65 you’re give a wine passport which grants you a Wine Walk Flight at 9 different tasting rooms. No reason to rush either, because the walk is self paced and all the tasting rooms are short walks between one another. The best part is, if 9 Wine Walk Flights sounds like too much for one day, then feel free to split up the walks over a couple days—the passport never expires! If you choose to get yourself a Wine Walk Passport, take your time and enjoy the drinks.
If you’re in the mood to see a play, musical, or even a film, the Forest Theater is the place to be. Built in 1910 during one of the most artistically influential times of the city’s history, The Forest Theater was envisioned by some of the best artists Carmel had to offer. The large open-air theater is one of the oldest of it's kind west of the Rocky Mountains, and still showcases a plethora of plays and musicals to this day. It's is still kept up today by the Forest Theater guild which was started at the same time by the founder of the theater: Herbert Heron. Herbert envisioned the Forest Theater to be filled with plays and musicals put on by “locals who also have fun doing the acting, directing, lighting, costuming, and staging,”(Forest Theater Guild), and you can still see his vision just as he had wished over 100 years later.
If you have a sweet tooth, then look no further. The Cottage of Sweets is a one-stop-shop for the kid in you! This candy store’s fairy-tale architectural inspiration and striking resemblance to a traditional English candy store is enough to draw you in, but the wide variety flavors and smells that await you inside is enough to make you stay. If you’re still not convinced, then just take a read of the shop’s awards list; It’s been named one of USA Today’s “best candy shops in America”, voted by Carmel residences as the “best smelling” and “best tasting” shop in Carmel, and my personal favorite: voted “most likely place to shop at” by the kids of Carmel. If you're bringing your kids with you (and even if you're not), The Cottage of Sweets should not be overlooked.
Founded in 1771, the Carmel Mission provides a look back into to the grand history of California. Whether you’re looking for a spiritual or historical experience, The Carmel Mission delivers. The grounds consist of so many amazing things to see, it can be a difficult decision deciding what to see first! The Basilica Church, the Jo Mora Chapel Gallery, and an additional 3 museums are just a pinch of what you can see during your pilgrimage to this historical site. It's also important to note that this location is still an active perish, so not everything will be available to visit depending on the day you go.
Tip: Do some research on the various events are taking place at the Mission before heading out if you want to see everything.
Have you ever been to Carmel-by-the-sea? We know we missed out on some of the gems; where would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!