Travel Guide to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Its Best Attractions

Hopper's travel guide to Carmel, California, features the town's best attractions, spas, golf courses, beaches, restaurants, sights and places to stay.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

Experience fantastic coastal scenery, art galleries, wine tasting and historic sites in the small but cosmopolitan city of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Being close to San Jose it can be either a day trip for those working in Silicon Valley, or a multi-day trip for those who want to bask in its lovely small town vibe, or perhaps visit the nearby towns of Monterey and Pacific Grove as well. Great food and drink play a large role in the tourism to Carmel-by-the-Sea owing to its local wineries, gourmet markets and diverse array of restaurants. Many artists use this inspirational location as a workplace, and as a result you can see the work of painters, sculptors, writers and photographers dotted throughout the city.

See the spectacular natural scenery of Point Lobos State Reserve

Photo by Chris Casciano via Flickr

South of Carmel-by-the-Sea is the 400-acre Point Lobos State Reserve. It’s a place of natural, untouched beauty. Here you’ll find rocky coasts, sandy beaches and blue lagoons, as well as 200 different animal species and 300 types of plants. Considered to be one of the top state parks in California, the surrounding body of water is home to dolphins, orcas, sea otters, Pacific grey whales, humpback whales, harbor seals and sea lions.

Try one of the world's best golf courses at Pebble Beach Golf Links

Photo by Daniel Newcombe via Flickr.

Named the best public golf course in America by Golf Digest, Pebble Beach Golf Links is truly one of a kind. Its fairways and greens are set right on the coast and the course offers some of the most scenic holes of golf in the world. Pebble Beach has been a fixture on the professional golf circuit since it was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant in 1919, and is scheduled to host the U.S. Open for the sixth time in 2019.

Poetic history at the Tor House

Photo by Michael Hartley via Flickr

Built by poet Robinson Jeffers in the 1920’s, this house was where Jeffers wrote much of his acclaimed poetry. This beautiful home is reminiscent of an English Tudor cottage and even has a two-story stone tower on the property. Tor House is open for tours as well as poetry programs and readings that are held throughout the year. Although famed for his poetry, Jeffers was also a stonemason, designer, builder, carpenter and tree planter.

Stop in at the historic Carmel Mission

Photo by Lou Ford via Flickr

Founded in 1770, this mission is guarded as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Take a self-guided tour of this beautiful old building to see the vestments worn by its founder, Serra Junípero, a 300-year-old icon of the Virgin Mary, the mission library and the priest’s old rooms.

A cultural dining experience at the Dametra Café

Photo by Scotty via Flickr

This small Greek restaurant serves up authentic Greek and Mediterranean favorites. Here you can order things like kebabs, pasta, gyros, falafel and hummus served with warm pita bread. The owners, Bashar and Faisal, from Syria and Jordan respectively, pride themselves on a distinctly homely atmosphere. They also provide entertainment in the form of traditional singing and dancing. So come to Dematra Café for generous portions of hearty Mediterranean food and a side of culture.

When in Carmel, stay at Clint Eastwood's very own Mission Ranch

Photo by SLDdigital via Flickr

Owned by Clint Eastwood, Mission Ranch – a hotel and restaurant – is an upmarket affair, and absolutely perfect for a romantic getaway to Carmel. There are 31 hotel rooms in 10 buildings set into 22 acres of land with fantastic views of Point Lobos and Carmel River Beach. There’s also a tennis and fitness club onsite. The restaurant serves locally sourced, organic food, and menu highlights include filet mignon with red wine, roasted shallot glaze, and potato gratin, and jumbo prawn cocktail.

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