There's just something magical about Carmel-by-the-Sea (called Carmel for short). Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains, this gem on the Central Coast of California has been a favorite getaway for decades for everyone from honeymooners to hippies. It still lures travelers of all types with its combination of breathtaking natural beauty and quaint-yet-sophisticated feel. If you're seeking a travel destination where you can "unplug," log some hiking time, bike along the coast, sample delicious healthful offerings including local organic produce and seafood, pamper yourself with a spa treatment, or just unwind, look no further than Carmel.
Located in Carmel Valley, Earthbound Farm's Farm Stand offers fresh organic produce, delicious organic food, gourmet groceries, organic flowers, and unique gifts. Stop by for lunch al fresco with a scenic farmland view.
The Cheese Shop
If wine tasting isn't your thing, try cheese tasting! The Cheese Shop has an incredible selection of gourmet cheeses, plus wines, aged meats, crackers, jams, and honey.
Where to Stay
Offering European hospitality since the 1940s, this Bavarian-style boutique hotel offers a stay that's a far cry from the cookie-cutter experience of large chains.
Each room is individually decorated, with several featuring fireplaces, kitchens, balconies, and ocean views. Step outside, and you're in the heart of Carmel, within convenient walking distance to shops and restaurants. A complimentary continental breakfast is served each morning with French Roast coffee, tea, juice, fruit, and fresh pastries from a local bakery. And pets are welcome!
Things to Do
- Beaches-Take a stroll in the sand, jog along Scenic Road, surf, sunbathe, or watch the sunset.
- Bike-There are more than 45 bike trails in Carmel. Find out where at mapmyride.com.
- Hike-Nearby is Point Lobos State Reserve's Cypress Grove Trail, a 1-mile loop among Cypress trees. For more experienced hikers, Garland Ranch to Sniveley's Ridge is a popular choice. Visit everytrail.com for more.
- Historic Walk-Grab a map and take a tour of historic buildings, art galleries, and more.
- Spas-Visit top-rated Refuge (refuge.com) or Kush Day Spa (kushincarmel.com). Go to Carmelcalifornia.com for a full list of local spas.
- Wine Tasting -The Carmel Wine Walk By-the-Sea ($65) is a self-guided tour of 12 tasting rooms from regional wineries. Don't miss: Wrath and Scheid tasting rooms, which feature wines from sustainable vineyards.
What to Pack
Even during the summer months, Carmel can get chilly, so be sure to pack accordingly. The hottest month of the year is September, when temperatures are typically in the 70s. And leave your high heels at home-walking on the cobblestone streets in heels is treacherous, and wearing heels requires a permit.
Isn't It Romantic?
Carmel was voted No. 3 in a list of the "World's Best Cities for Romance" by Travel + Leisure magazine. (Paris, France, and Venice, Italy, ranked No. 1 and 2.)