15 Best Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea, California

by Ketki Hanamshet Updated on 15 Oct 2018

Carmel by the seaImage Source: wikipedia.org

Carmel-by-the-sea is actually quite a handful. It offers visitors everything from historical sites to cultural attractions. So here are 15 things to do for maximum entertainment when you’re visiting the place.

Let's explore these 15 best things to do in Carmel-by-the-sea:

1. Discover nature afresh at Point Lobos State Reserve And China Cove Gibson Beach, Carmel-by-the-sea

Considered the State Park System’s crown jewel, Point Lobos State Reserve is the right place for animal watchers. Known for its natural beauty and rare plants and also some unique geological rock formations, this place is truly worth a visit. Visit China Cove or stroll down Gibson Beach, which are close to the Reserve. Rest assured, it’s a visit you’ll never forget!

2. Visit Tor House, Carmel-by-the-sea

Robinson Jeffers, a builder and poet constructed this stone building sometime in the 1920s as his dream house. Jeffers built this completely by himself and this is a classic example of how one can realize his dreams if he truly wishes to. Built from wooden planks and stones placed perfectly, this 80-year old building has been converted now into a museum and attracts hordes of visitors every year. Read Jeffers’ poems on display while also enjoying this artistic and architectural marvel. Photography however, is disallowed inside Tor House. 

3. Get arty at the Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-sea

What was once a public school, is now a center for promoting various art forms. Functional since 2003, the center attracts some of the greatest living performers from the world over every year and you could be lucky to witness some really world class performances here. Be it fine arts, music or dance, the center offers it all. Watch plays and musicals or listen to live concerts which happen throughout the year. The ideal place to chill out for the arts-loving fraternity. 

4. Shop away at Ocean Avenue, Carmel-by-the-sea

This is Carmel-by-the-Sea's most notable shopping street. Moreover, it also has wineries and some great restaurants. Offers a welcome break from the area’s beaches to unwind and relax as you pamper yourself with some good food and drink. Marvel at its brightness during evenings as the bright lights come on and take a walk as you window shop. 

5. Relax at Carmel Plaza, Carmel-by-the-sea 

Here’s the place to either shop or relax as you wish. Its high end souvenir shops offer some quality mementos to take back home for friends, colleagues or relatives. This mall is also an architectural beauty with around 40 shops and branded restaurants like Cole Hahn, Kate Spade and J Crew. Enjoy its fast food on offer also and don’t forget to visit the famous cheese shop. You’ll be amazed at its cheese collection with multiple flavors also available for a quick tasting session.

6. Go beachcombing at Monastery Beach, Carmel-by-the-sea

One of Carmel-by-the-Sea's most popular beaches, the Monastery Beach is beautiful, pristine  and the fantasy of every soul searcher. When you tire of the crowded downtown areas or bustling parks, Monastery Beach could offer you some much desired peace. Just stroll on its golden sands, play beach games or sunbathe. If luck favors, you might even spot some whales, sea otters, seals or maybe even dolphins. Hence, carry your camera to capture those great moments. 

7. Taste the performing and fine arts at Golden Bough Playhouse, Carmel-by-the-sea

This iconic theater was commissioned in the 1920s and attracts both art lovers and tourists from all over the world every year. It was burnt down in a fire in 1949, after which two new auditoriums were constructed in 1952 at the Golden Bough Playhouse building. Since 1994, it is managed by the Pacific Repertory Theatre and regularly hosts plays, live events and musicals. Overall, a must visit for every art fascinator.

8. Watch plays at the Forest Theater, Carmel, Carmel-by-the-sea

Constructed in 1910, Carmel’s Forest Theatre is a 540-seater amphitheatre. It’s stage is truly state-of-the-art as are its great onstage sets. The fireplaces, pines and plush interiors make it a truly enjoyable experience for theater lovers. Visit it during its annual festival for some mind-blowing performances. 

9. Experience the unique Weston Gallery, Carmel-by-the-sea

One of the world’s oldest art galleries, the Weston Gallery, started in 1975 is completely dedicated to the art form of photography. This is one place that perfectly amalgamates contemporary and vintage photographs with a collection rarely seen elsewhere. You get to see some great works by iconic photographers like Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Harry Callahan, Michael Kenna, Yousuf Karsh, Maggie Taylor, Chip Hooper  and Brett Weston. Truly a photography enthusiast’s delight. 

10. Hike to Palo Corona Regional Park, Carmel-by-the-sea

One of Carmel’s most scenic and beautiful sites overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Palo Corona Regional Park has some great ocean views to offer. If hiking’s your passion, you could hike your way to this well maintained park which is close to the Point Lobos State Park. Carry your own water and food. Prior permission is required for hiking and you need to apply in advance. 

11. Watch painting and photography mix at the Gallery By The Sea, Carmel-by-the-sea

Yet another photography museum that displays Carmel’s pristine beaches, shades of daily life and lively atmosphere by way of snapshots taken using mixed techniques. You might even think that some photographs are paintings. The fact is that Gallery by the Sea displays photographs that also combine painting. Incredible, wouldn’t you say? 

12. Go rare plant hunting at Point Lobos Ranch, Carmel-by-the-sea

This ranch spreads over 200 acres of land and is known for its large Monterey Pines as also rare chaparral plants. The ranch’s main aim is to preserve the scenic area which runs along the northern Big Sur Coast. A must visit on your next visit to California.

13. Explore the Gravity Garden, Carmel-by-the-sea

A relatively smaller park, the gravity Garden can be toured in minutes. However, its uniqueness is in the way rocks here are kept.  Jim Needham, the famous rock stacker has done the designing which is rarely seen elsewhere. A good place to click a few pictures to preserve Needham’s great art form for posterity. 

14. Experience the bewitching flora and fauna of Mission Trail Park, Carmel-by-the-sea

This 33-acre nature preserve has an astonishing collection of various types of flora and fauna. Great for kids as you can teach them all about nature. Hike in its trail along the redwood and pine forest to enjoy the park’s great natural beauty and shoot some great photographs of plants, trees and birds. The peace it offers is unparalleled. 

15. Gorge on some great seafood at Flaherty's Seafood Grill And Oyster Bar, Carmel-by-the-sea

 This restaurant has been offering some world-class seafood for over 40 years. The ingredients are sea fresh or naturally grown and you get some delectable platters. Just gorge on some of its signature dishes like pacific fried oysters, crab cakes, seafood cob, lobster bisque and omelet with smoked salmon stuffing. Enjoy the oyster platters at its oyster bar while sipping some great cocktails as well.

Author: Ketki Hanamshet
Usually lost in a reverie, Ketki is someone who absolutely refuses to live in the practical world. While she has a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, she should be honored mastery in procrastination. If you see her slouching on a couch, ask...

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Carmel-by-the-sea, California

Must see places in Carmel-by-the-sea ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of Carmel-by-the-sea tourist attractions & points of interest.

  1. # 1 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 1524 times in trip plans
    Point Lobos State Reserve And China Cove Gibson Beach

    Tags: Outdoors, Beach, Nature

    Address: 62 California 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    Considered as the crown jewel of the State Park System, The Point Lobos State Reserve is a perfect place if you want to watch vistas and animals of different species. A visit to the state park is mand...Read more

  2. # 2 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 765 times in trip plans
    Ocean Avenue

    Tags: Restaurant, Market, Street Market, Streets

    Address: Ocean Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923 USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Whenever you’re taking a trip somewhere, it is very important to visit shopping streets of that particular place. And Ocean Avenue is just the right kind of place for anyone who loves shopping. ...Read more

  3. # 3 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 44 times in trip plans
    Tor House

    Tags: Museum

    Address: 26304 Ocean View Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 10:00 am - 04:00 pm Details

    Constructed by Robinson Jeffers, a poet builder from the 1920s, the Tor House was initially a dream house for him and his family. Entirely built by himself, the Tor House is a stark example of how far...Read more

  4. # 4 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 57 times in trip plans
    Sunset Cultural Center

    Tags: Entertainment, Performance, Concert

    Address: San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, USA

    What started as a public school, today the Sunset Cultural Center is a place for promoting art forms of different kind and every art lover in the world. Started in 2003, the center is a great place to...Read more

  5. # 5 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 44 times in trip plans
    Monastery Beach

    Tags: Beach

    Address: Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Another popular beach in the beach town that Carmel is, the Monastery Beach is pristine, beautiful and can be every soul searcher’s fantasy. If you’re done with exploring the already crowd...Read more

  6. # 6 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 20 times in trip plans
    Carmel Plaza

    Tags: Plaza, Specialty Shop

    Address: Ocean Avenue & Mission Street, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, USA

    Timings: 10:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    Bring out the avid shopper in you, shop some high end souvenirs for yourself, your friends, relatives or your colleagues, on your way back home and spend some relaxed time at Carmel Plaza, a architect...Read more

  7. # 7 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 15 times in trip plans
    Golden Bough Playhouse

    Tags: Entertainment, Theatre

    Address: Monte Verde St, Between 8th and 9th Avenues, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

    Originally started in 1920s but then destroyed in fire in 1949, the Golden Bough Playhouse is an iconic theatre in Carmel by the Sea which has been attracting tourists or art lovers across the globe s...Read more

  8. # 8 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 8 times in trip plans
    Weston Gallery

    Tags: Photo Gallery

    Address: 6th Ave & Dolores St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 10:30 am - 05:30 pm Details

    The Weston Gallery in Carmel by the Sea is considered to be one of the oldest galleries in the world dedicated to photography, as it was established in 1975. If you want to witness a perfect amalgamat...Read more

  9. # 9 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 81 times in trip plans
    Forest Theater, Carmel

    Tags: Entertainment, Amphitheater

    Address: Santa Rita St & Mountain View Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, USA

    The Forest Theatre in Carmel was constructed in 1910, and since then it has been entertaining the kids and adults alike. Located perfectly at the Mountain View Avenue and Santa Rita Street, the Carmel...Read more

  10. # 10 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 6 times in trip plans
    Steven Whytes Sculpture Studio And Gallery

    Tags: Art Gallery, Sculpture

    Address: Dolores St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    Steven Whyte is a well-known sculpture whose creations were world famous. And just to enlighten the current and coming generations about his contribution to the art of sculpting, the Steven Whyte&rsqu...Read more

  11. # 11 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 5 times in trip plans
    Gravity Garden

    Tags: Garden

    Address: 97 Corona Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    A comparatively small garden when taken other parks in Carmel into consideration, the Gravity Garden can be explored within minutes. What sets this garden apart from others is the uniquely kept rocks....Read more

  12. # 12 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 1 time in trip plans
    Vesuvio Restaurant

    Tags: Food And Drinks, Restaurant

    Address: 6th Ave & Junipero St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 04:00 pm - 11:00 pm Details

    The Vesuvio Restaurant is a charming and romantic Italian Bistro offering traditional Italian pizza, pasta, and meat varieties in the rustic dining space and the rooftop terrace. Their Mediterranean d...Read more

  13. # 13 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 2 times in trip plans
    Hog's Breath Inn

    Tags: Bar, Food And Drinks, Restaurant

    Address: San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Timings: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm Details

    The Hog's Breath Inn is an excellent bar cum restaurant that is thematically decorated keeping the legendary Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood in mind. The restaurant offers an impressively large menu co...Read more

  14. # 14 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 1 time in trip plans
    Point Lobos Ranch

    Tags: Park, Ecological Reserve

    Address: 562 State Hwy 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Point Lobos Ranch located in California is a famous state park primarily under the control of California State Park System. Located in an area of 200-acre, this park is famous for holding one of the b...Read more

  15. # 15 of 214 Things To Do in Carmel-by-the-sea | Added 4 times in trip plans
    Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

    Tags: Hotel

    Address: 120 Highlands Dr, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA

    Hyatt Carmel Highlands is a famous hotel in California, USA. The most exciting part of staying in this hotel will be the view that it offers. Previously it was a big star classic hotel which was later...Read more