HomeCommunityA local’s travel guide to Carmel-By-The-Sea

A local’s travel guide to Carmel-By-The-Sea

Published June 5, 2024


Carmel-By-The-Sea is home to a beautiful, jagged coastline, a world-famous golf course and aquarium, a plethora of cuisines, a quaint downtown and an abundance of marine wildlife, making it a popular destination for tourists coming from all corners of the globe. With the tourist season approaching, here is a local’s travel itinerary for spending a weekend in Carmel.

Carmel Beach looks straight out of a movie and is a great beach for tourists. (photo by AVERY PALSHAW)

The Mission Ranch Hotel is undoubtedly one of the best hotels in the area, for each traditional, farm-style room has its own unique features, it overlooks River State Beach, and the hotel’s restaurant has some great menu options. Rooms range from $150 to $400 per night, which, given the location and character of the hotel, is entirely worth it.

Exhibiting an abundance of marine organisms local to Monterey Bay, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a fascinating way to see wildlife. (photo by RILEY PALSHAW)

It is essential to hit up Dutch Door Donuts in the Carmel Plaza for arguably the most delicious homemade donuts on the entire Monterey Peninsula. Next, a quick stop by the Monterey Bay Aquarium would perfectly start off the day. While it is ideal to visit the aquarium on a weekday, going in the morning, even during the weekend, is far less congested than in the afternoon, providing a rare opportunity to come face-to-face with various marine creatures.

Located in downtown Carmel, Stationæry is the perfect place to grab lunch. (photo by AVERY PALSHAW)

As for lunch options, a few excellent, fairly casual places to grab a bite are Tommy’s Wok, Toro Sushi, Stationæry or La Bicyclette. An hour or two spent at the well-known Carmel Beach, followed by a drive or walk along Scenic Avenue, is absolutely necessary when vacationing in Carmel. Carmel River State Beach is far less crowded and honestly more picturesque than Carmel Beach, yet whether a tourist or a local, one should avoid swimming there because of its strong rip tides.

The Bench is a classic restaurant at the Lodge in Pebble Beach with excellent menu selections. (photo by AVERY PALSHAW)

Dinner at The Bench, an upscale restaurant in Pebble Beach that looks over all of Carmel Bay, would be a superb way to conclude the day–it is a must to order the bread balloon, the mac and cheese or the s’mores skillet. Another dinner option located in downtown Carmel is Forge in the Forest, an American cuisine restaurant that fits the “cottagecore,” “fairytale” essence of Carmel.

Just down the coast from Carmel, Big Sur is a truly beautiful place to spend the day. (photo by AVERY PALSHAW)

What’s a trip to Carmel without venturing into Big Sur? If one decides to drive into Big Sur while staying in Carmel, it’s best to make a full day out of it, because there truly is so much to see and do. Two hikes that are worth doing in Big Sur are the Garrapata Trail, a moderately easy hike that goes through a Big Sur valley and eventually into a thicket of lush redwoods, and the Gorge Trail, which leads to a beautiful swimming hole in the Big Sur River, but is more difficult to reach as the hike involves crossing the river at times. 

A reminder to all to respect the locals, but more importantly the land when visiting the unforgettable Carmel-By-The-Sea and its neighboring destinations.


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