Enjoy a Weekend getaway to Carmel by the Sea in Central California

A gorgeous sandy beach to stroll and gaze, window shopping in charming European styled galleries, wine tasting and trying some fabulous cuisine – Carmel by the sea does deliver all these fantastic experiences. A weekend getaway to Carmel by the sea can be relaxed and casual with plenty of time to unwind or it can be filled with plenty of activities, recreation or touring. It’s up to you to decide how you want to enjoy the weekend here, and here’s some ideas of what we did in Carmel and the surrounding areas and attractions worth visiting.


Why visit Carmel and the Carmel Valley?

Carmel is one of the most unique cities in the central coastal areas of Monterey county with a mix of European flare and storefronts, beautiful shops and galleries, a gorgeous beach area and landscapes along with fantastic wineries to explore makes this the perfect year round destination. Carmel is such a beautiful and European inspired city that is tourist friendly and just fun to explore for all ages of visitors.

Carmel Mission weekend getaway to carmel


What to do at Carmel by the Sea

You can take in as much as you like or just visit a few wineries and shop till you drop depending on what your interests are. I typically love to do a combination of activities and see as much that strikes my interest. So here are some of my favorite activities and places that I visited in Carmel and the surrounding areas in a quick weekend getaway.


Carmel town at Ocean Avenue


Explore the main drag on Ocean Avenue

The main road into Carmel is Ocean Avenue, a beautiful thoroughfare lined with designer boutique stores, art galleries, mouth drooling bakery shops, unique family run specialty shops many with a European design style and old world charm. On the side streets, you’ll find a variety of winery tasting rooms, delicious restaurants and a section for art galleries featuring local and state artists. It’s fun to take your time to enjoy and do some window shopping or pick up a yummy pastry in the many desert/bakeries that are always filled with sugar fanatics.

Carmel town euro styled old town


Euro charm and unique boutiques at Carmel by the Sea

It’s fun to just wander around and stop at any shop that peaks your interest or something that smells amazing and you just have to drop by for a free sample. But if you’re interested in checking out more historic details, this self walking tour of historic Carmel might be a better insight to how the town developed and some of the unique businesses in the area worth seeing.


Carmel town shopping scene on Ocean Avenue


Art gallery touring in Carmel by the Sea


Carmel town a front door greeter

Carmel town a front door greeter and crooner



Enjoy the walk down to Carmel beach

After getting to explore most of the downtown area, I love walking all  the way down Ocean avenue to Carmel beach, one of the most iconic and photographed beaches in the US. The downhill walk from town is pleasant and relatively fast on an easy slope and before you know it, you’ve arrived at the beach. On both sides are gorgeous coastal views in both directions, and there is a small boardwalk area if you want to get closer to the water without getting sand on your shoes. You definitely can’t take a bad picture here at Carmel beach, it’s that spectacular.

 Carmel ocean beach area


Gorgeous trees and coastal views from Carmel beach


Carmel coastal views from Carmel Beach


Home window shopping in Carmel

I love driving around the quaint downtown area and on weekends, all the realtors have open houses and it’s actually a lot of fun to drop in on a few of course with million dollar views and price tags. Who knew that this was such a popular weekend getaway spot and perfect if you have a few million to blow. Well, it’s free to just visit and pretend for a short time that you can live a beautiful life here in Carmel.


Carmel Real Estate Carmel by the Sea

Want this home? It’s only 3.4 million on the market, add another half million and you’ll also get some ocean views on this 5,000 square foot lot in the old part of Carmel by the Sea.


Carmel Real Estate Carmel by the Sea


Million dollar views with million dollar price tags in Carmel


Carmel Real Estate million dollar views


This is the view you get on a 3.8 million dollar home on a 5,000 square foot lot – do you want it?




Visit the Carmel Mission

Later in the afternoon, visiting the Carmel Mission is ideal especially when all the tourist crowds have gone back into town or on a road trip.  One of the prettiest of the California missions, Carmel Mission Basilica was founded in 1771 and still has an active parish. If you love California history, then the museum and information guides offer a fantastic insight to early California lifestyle and the missionaries who paved the way for the Catholic faith all over California. The mission is beautiful inside and out and the gardens surrounding the compound is very colorful and stunning to photograph and enjoy. Check out more details to visiting Carmel Mission here for hours and tours.


Carmel Mission church


Gorgeous interiors and gardens of Carmel Mission

There are tours you can take of the mission but it was easy enough doing a self tour and reading the placards located in all the main areas and displays showing the collectibles and typical life in the early California missions and expansion to the rest of California by the Spaniards wanting to both find material wealth and to covert the native population into the catholic faith.


Carmel Mission interior details


Beautiful outdoor gardens and fountains at Carmel Mission


Carmel Mission fountain area



Burial plots with abalone shells


Carmel Mission cemetery

Wine Tasting in Carmel by the Sea

After a nice visit to the Carmel Mission, it’s time to head back to the old town and do some wine tasting with all the wine tasting venues all located in the heart of town. The village has so many tasting rooms, wine bars and wine shops to choose and showcasing the many fine wines grown in the local wineries in the Carmel Valley.  If you’re looking to try some local favorites or just discovering some new tasting rooms, check out this tasting venue list and map of where to find the tasting rooms in the village.


Carmel winery tour in Carmel by the Sea


Wine tour at Carmel by the Sea


Carmel town wine tasting




Carmel town wine tasting in town



Dinner in Carmel

There’s definitely some amazing food venues to enjoy in the city with many premium restaurants and family run venues specializing in every regional cuisine you can imagine. For dinner we booked a reservation (reservations at all dining venues are important) at the quaint Portabella restaurant in a charming European styled abode with old world elegance and a pan European menu. There’s plenty to choose from tonight’s menu, I settle for a nice glass of wine, a creamy crab bisque and then a nice king salmon with fresh vegetable mix.



Carmel town at Portabello market



Carmel dining spot at Porabello restaurant


A nice glass of wine and seafood bisque – it’s a perfect combo


appetizer course at Portabello restaurant


Point Lobos State Reserve

Day two in Carmel by the Sea

After a nice breakfast at our hotel, it’s an early start to drive down the coast to walk around Point Lobos State Park. There’s no traffic this morning and thee roads are nice and clear so we head out to the park in no time and even find parking at our first stop along the rugged coastal trail.


Point Lobos state park views


It’s a gorgeous morning and a nice long hike around the coastal trailheads is going to be a real treat on this perfect day for picture-taking. Check out some of these amazing views walking around Point Lobos. Anytime I’m in Monterey, I always love to visit Point Lobos Reserve to walk around the gorgeous trails and get inspired to photograph this stunning coastline.



Quiet meadows at Point Lobos State Park



Back to Carmel for a leisurely lunch

After a nice long hike around the many trailhead in Point Lobos, it’s time to head back to Carmel and have a nice long lunch. The hard part is finding a spot that isn’t busy right at the peak lunch hour period. The best thing is to walk the side streets for those tucked away spots away from the tourist crowds. Finally we find a spot with a few seats open in the courtyard and sit right in for a nice lunch. I order a delicious salad and croquet Monsieur and it is so yummy.


Carmel town lunch time and outdoor dining




Exploring the Art Galleries in Carmel

Since the restaurant is right on the block with all the big galleries, we decide to take a stroll to  check out the fine artwork for sale – and of course with large price tags to boot.


Carmel town and art gallery tour



One of a kind artwork for sale in Carmel


There are many unique galleries featuring various local artists and other California artists. Also are a variety of coop galleries including the lovely coop below with the Carmel Art Association Gallery featuring some beautiful work by local artisans.


One of a kind artwork for sale in Carmel

Wine tasting in Carmel Valley

A visit to Carmel isn’t complete without exploring Carmel Valley and checking out a few of the popular and premium wineries in the area. A close drive to the town is the French inspired châteaux at Folktale Winery and Vineyard and beautiful outdoor and indoor tasting areas. I loved being here late in the afternoon when they set up a cool band to keep you entertained while nibbling on some delicious small bites made by an in-house chef. If your wondering about the wine tasting menu’s and samplers, there are quite a few choices and they are all delicious to sample.


Carmel winery tour at folktale winery


You get a nice free glass of bubbly walking into the Folktale winery



Carmel winery tour at folktale winery


Delicious wine sampler and tasty bites


Carmel winery tour and appetizers


Bernardus Winery and Vineyards


Another excellent winery located in Carmel Valley with nice indoor and outdoor venues and tasting room. Bernardus winery excels at wines excellent reds like their Pinot and delicious whites like their very popular Sauvignon Blanc.


Carmel winery tour sauvignon blanc


There’s plenty of wineries to choose from and if you have more time and want explore some of the best wineries to visit in Carmel valley check out this reviews of Carmel Valley wineries to highlight your visit to Carmel.


Where to stay in Carmel

There are many unique boutique inns and hotels that identify with the charming Carmel experience. Here are a few that you might want to consider for a perfect stay in Carmel by the Sea



Where to stay in Carmel town


The Pine Inn – Located on the main Ocean Blvd, the historic inn is in a great location in the old town, classic, comfortable, spacious and beautifully decorated rooms.



Where to stay in Carmel town


A fairytale stay at the Normandy Inn – Located on Ocean Avenue, this inn oozes charm and cute, comfortable rooms and free afternoon sherry.



L'auberg Carmel


Luxury stay at L’Augerg Carmel – Part  of the Relaix & Chateaux properties and an exceptional stay with a cosy with an upscale environment and plush accommodations.


Here are a few more reviews of nice inns at Carmel by the Sea worth checking out with availability and current prices per night.


What to see more of Monterey and Carmel?

Visiting Point Lobos Reserve

Enjoying a day in Monterey and Pacific Grove

Cruising Monterey bay

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Exploring Moss Landing in Monterey

Road trip to Big Sur


Conclusion to visiting Carmel by the Sea

If you love exploring beautiful and unique places along California’s gorgeous central coastline areas, then a visit to Carmel by the Sea and exploring the  parts of Monterey County and even wine country is a fun thing to do as an easy getaway from San Francisco or Los Angeles area.


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A weekend getaway to Carmel by the Sea


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