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Spend a Weekend In Carmel-By-The-Sea

Spend a Weekend In Carmel-By-The-Sea

Spend the perfect weekend in the rich history, slower pace, distinct architecture, and gorgeous landscape of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Team


6 min read

June 15, 2023

Established in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra, the Carmel Mission marked the first European settlement of Carmel-by-the-Sea. While the region is wildly popular today, the area struggled to attract new residents until 1906. The earliest residents included Sinclair Lewis and Jack London, who fled post-earthquake San Francisco in search of a bohemian lifestyle and were captivated by the beauty of Carmel’s rugged coastline. 

American poet Robinson Jeffers arrived in 1919 shortly after the first wave of visual artists and moved into Tor House, which was expanded and built multiple times by Jeffers himself. Carmel continues to be a hub for artists today thanks to its beautiful beaches, Bohemian character, and it’s beautiful natural scenery. The town is also home to multiple art centers, including the Carmel Art Association Space, the oldest art gallery in Carmel-By-The-Sea

The town’s eclectic heritage has also given it a unique character, and Carmel-By-The-Sea is considered to be one of the more European-esque places on the West Coast thanks to its Spanish colonial architecture and its many Tudor-style cottages. A glance at a map of Carmel-by-the-Sea confirms its European inspiration, as the town is tightly clustered, and its beautifully maintained streets are quite walkable. The rich history, slower pace, and gorgeous landscape of this idyllic English-styled hamlet may also inspire you to spend a weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Of course, before you go it would be good to find out what this unique locale has to offer. Let’s check out what you can see and do over a lovely weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

Day 1

Carmel-by-the-Sea’s quaint streets invite you to walk around and explore countless delightful shops, bakeries, and restaurants.

Your first day in Carmel-by-the-Sea is bound to be a handful since there will be so much to take in. These luxurious views of NorCal’s natural landscape are only surpassed by the oranges and reds that fill the evening sky as if transporting beachgoers into an Expressionist painting as the surfers drop into the cresting swell. Just past the sand’s edge lie the quaint villas housing the town’s art galleries, bistros, hotels, and esteemed wine-tasting rooms. However, your first day in Carmel-By-The-Sea should be one of settling in. Carmel is all about taking things slow, and you’ll have plenty of time to see all the cool things this place has to offer later. First thing first, it’s time to find a place to stay. 

Where to Stay In Carmel-By-The-Sea?

Although living costs in Carmel tend to be on the higher side, a weekend in Carmel-on-the-Sea is still well worth it thanks to the many wonderful places to stay, You’ll find plenty of wonderful Carmel-by-the-Sea bed and breakfasts spots, Carmel-by-the-Sea cabins, lodges, and hotels to cater to a range of budgets and tastes. For a classic weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea, you can’t go wrong with the Hotel Carmel. Situated not far from Ocean Drive, the hub of Carmel-by-the-Sea coffee farmers market, shops, and restaurants, this luxuriously renovated hotel is just perfect for a quick weekend getaway. 

Cozy up around the hotel’s glorious firepit for a night of relaxation and storytelling with your fellow travelers. If you’re feeling peckish, the hotel has some wonderful dining from Brophy’s Tavern, the hotel’s in-house restaurant. Perfect for brunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the tavern is the ideal spot to enjoy delectable classics such as English fish and chips, a gloriously decadent Reuben calzone, or Brophy’s famous succulent prime rib french dip au jus.   

Enjoy succulent prime rib au jus at the Carmel Hotel’s in-house tavern, or venture into town for some authentic Neapolitan pizza.

For a more rustic Carmel-by-the-Sea cabin experience, you might try one of the many Carmel-by-the-Sea cabin resorts which offer a relaxed stay in a classic cottage in Northern California’s majestic wilderness. This is the ideal choice for those who prefer a secluded weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. You might not have room service at these places, but you’ll still be in a town with plenty of other exquisite dining options.    

What to Eat In Carmel-By-The-Sea?

As with any luxurious California beach town, Carmel-by-the-Sea is graced with a variety of premium dining options, including seafood, Mediterranean cuisine, and great American fare. Many of the best restaurants in town are hidden away in the delightful brick alleyways of Carmel Plaza, including the Flying Fish Grill, Carmel’s destination for seafood, and Cantinette Luca, a tried and true destination for pizza and pasta. Grab a seat by their brick wood-fired pizza oven as you enjoy a beautifully crafted pizza in this authentic, rustic, and thoroughly charming Italian setting. 

If you’re for a place that’s a cut above the rest, the restaurant at Folktale Winery has got you covered. Located in one of the many vineyards that surround Carmel, Folktale Winery’s dining establishment is an excellent place for haut cuisine, NorCal style. Enjoy expertly crafted ceviche, premium charcuterie boards complete with the finest cold cuts and high-quality cheeses, and plenty of amazingly superb Mediterranean entrees that will make you feel like you’re dining on the French Riviera.  

With a complete menu of fresh crunchy baguettes, sumptuous croissants, and great French lunches, the Patisserie Boissiere is the best spot in town.

Of course, the baked-goods foodies will love Carmel-by-the-Sea’s bakeries which are famous for their gourmet quality. Check out the Patisserie Boissiere on Ocean Avenue for a beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea bakery experience you won’t soon forget. Patisserie Boissiere is an unpretentious Carmel-by-the-Sea coffee shop and bistro that specializes in classic French fare, making it a great place to stop for some mouthwatering beef bourguignon or a sinfully good pain au chocolat.  

Day Two

So you’ve found a place, scored a deluxe meal at one of Carmel’s many fine dining establishments, and had a relaxing sleep in a beautifully appointed seaside hotel. Now, it’s time to explore all the cool things to do that this bustling art town has to offer. “But, what is there to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea?”, you may ask. Let’s take a gander at the highlights of this eclectic town and its environs. 

What to Do In Carmel-By-The-Sea?

Since Carmel-by-the-Sea is endowed with a picturesque natural landscape, it is a prime spot for outdoor fun and has plenty of unexpected activities as well. It’s no wonder, then, that Carmel-by-the-Sea camping, hiking, and biking are some of the best you can do in the entire state. Intrepid cyclists will love riding along the rocky coast of the famous 17 Mile Drive, which extends from northern Carmel through Pacific Grove. In addition to being a sweet workout, this route rewards you with glorious sweeping views of Carmel’s coastal vistas. 

Along the way, you’ll come across Lone Cypress, the region’s iconic 250-year-old cypress tree that grows in isolation off a cliff’s edge. Round out the day with a visit to Carmel Mission, whose beautiful fountains, airy courtyards, and unique artifacts will transport you back in time to the town’s humble beginning. Walking the grounds transports visitors to a faraway time before artists occupied the land and create an appreciation for the foundation built several centuries ago. Nature lovers will also love Carmel’s wealth of hiking routes, including the Point Lobos Loop trail, which loops around Point Lobos part and provides stunning views of wildflower fields and the coastline. 

Enjoy one of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s many scenic beaches and take a dip in the emerald blue waters of the vast Pacific Ocean.

No guide of Carmel would be complete without mentioning this seaside hamlet’s bustling art scene. With hundreds of galleries, studios, and antique shops clustered within a single square mile, this Carmel offers visitors the unique opportunity to check out tons of local, national, and international artworks created in a multitude of styles. This concentration of art galleries is one of the highest in all of the U.S. and includes works from such household names as Salvador Dali, Rowena Meeks Abdy, Paul Dougherty, and many more. Carmel’s must-see art galleries include the Carmel Art Association, Renoir Art Galleries, Carmel Mission Basilica Museum, the Center for Photographic Art, and the Dawson Cole Fine Art Gallery. 

The final day in Carmel-by-the-Sea can often prove bittersweet. As your weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea draws to a close, you might find yourself wishing to stay in this magical town for just a bit longer. You might even daydream of making one of the many delightful beachfront homes and cottages of Carmel-by-the-Seam your permanent residence. To make the most of your day in Carmel, we recommend spending it doing what you like most, be it luxuriating at one of Carmel-by–the-Sea’s spas, kayaking, birdwatching, or surfing at Carmel-by-the-Sea’s beaches. 

Be sure to stop by Tor House before you leave town for an artistic house tour that can’t be topped.

The ocean mist provides a rejuvenating release from the day’s warm temperatures, while the beauty of the panoramic view inspires photographers of all levels to capture the perfect snapshot. Be sure to stop by Tor House if you get the chance, as a tour of this unusual yet highly artistic residence is by far the best way to conclude your stay at one of America’s most fairy-tale-like locales. Until next time, Carmel.

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