Rediscovering local spots for non-tourists

Looking for something to do this weekend? Carmel and its surroundings have plenty of opportunities for relaxation and fun. If the Lone Cypress and Bixby Bridge are too mainstream, and standing in lines at the Aquarium is not worth your time, check out these tourist-friendly but lesser-known activities in our very own community.

Sunset snack in the coves of northern Carmel Beach

If you enjoy long walks on the beach and cozy picnics, the coves of Carmel Beach’s northern section provide an intimate spot sheltered from wind gusts where one can settle down on a blanket with sushi and green tea while watching the sun set over crashing waves. Play some Frank Sinatra and cuddle with a partner if you’re feeling romantic, or just chill out and enjoy the view with some bros.

The view from the coves of northern Carmel Beach are well worth the short trek.

The view from the coves of northern Carmel Beach are well worth the short trek.

Walk north (towards golf course) along Carmel City Beach Park. When at cliffs, continue over smooth rocks and find a cove.

Small hike to Fern Falls at Kahn Ranch

Just a 15-minute walk from parking, this 18-foot waterfall amid mossy oaks and lush ferns is part of a beautiful extension of the Garland Ranch Regional Park. Meditate on a rock beside the pond with the sounds of cascading water and songbirds filling your ears. Best after rains. Pack light.

At the end of Southbank Road in the Carmel Valley Village follow Hitchcock Canyon Road to Kahn Ranch and take the Fern Falls Trail.

Tour the art galleries of Carmel-by-the-Sea

Admire museum-worthy paintings, photographs and sculptures for free just by strolling down European-like small streets and succulent-filled alleyways that sometimes feature impressive fountains. Peek a head into the Dawson Cole Fine Art gallery to see ballet dancers in still form, watch paintings adjust to changes in lighting at the Thomas Kinkade cottage gallery, or marvel at dramatic, crisp photographs of the majestic Central Coast landscape at the Gallery Sur.

Walk along Ocean Avenue and its adjacent streets in downtown Carmel.

Enjoy some Mac-n-Cheese with views of the Carmel Bay

The Bench restaurant is perfect for enjoying Mac-n-Cheese.

The Bench restaurant is perfect for enjoying Mac-n-Cheese.

Stab at a crunchy exterior and dig into a gooey inner layer to savor some traditional macaroni and cheese out of a cast iron bowl at The Bench restaurant of Pebble Beach. Hang out around fire pits overlooking the 18th hole with your virgin cocktail in hand and converse with slightly drunk tourists about golf’s latest excitements (even though it’s a sport for the rich and bored).

Enter Pebble Beach and take 17 Mile Drive to The Lodge at Pebble Beach.

Exercise true Padre Pride by visiting the Carmel Mission
La Misión San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo, with its intense church altar, informational museum, and distinctly Spanish grounds, serves as an excellent attraction for history buffs or anyone interested in a magnificent chunk of architecture. This U.S. National Landmark, founded by Junípero Serra in 1770, is great for taking photos and learning some local history. Discover the role Native Americans played in the construction of the mission, inspect breathtaking religious artwork, and watch swallows fly to and from the chapel while sitting beside a giant fountain.
Off Highway 1, follow Rio Road for 1 minute towards Carmel-by-the-Sea. Take left turn onto Lasuen Drive for best parking.
-Daniel Orlov