Serving as the northern gateway to California’s Big Sur coast, Carmel By The Sea is a charming beach city on the Monterey Peninsula. It’s renowned for the ornate Spanish architecture of the Carmel Mission, as well as being a popular destination for spotting migrating whales.
Things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Enjoy a stroll along the Scenic Bluff Path, which extends from the golden sands of Carmel Beach to the popular birdwatching location of Carmel River State Beach. The gravel pathway winds beneath Monterey cypresses and past landscaped gardens and offers magnificent views of the rugged Pacific coastline.
Admire the 18th-century architecture of the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum, built by early Franciscan missionaries. Learn about the restoration efforts at the Harry Downie Museum, witness the monumental bronze and travertine cenotaph by sculptor Jo Mora and see the cell where Saint Junípero Serra lived at the Convento Museum.
Spend a day wildlife spotting along the dramatic coastline of the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, home to harbor seals and a popular area for spotting humpback and blue whales. Follow one of the many hiking trails and visit the 19th-century Whalers Cabin that was used by early Japanese and Chinese fishermen.
Carmel By The Sea serves as the northern gateway to Big Sur, a spectacular stretch of coastline that hugs the Pacific Ocean. Travel over the Bixby Bridge to explore the hiking trails of beautiful Andrew Molera State Park and witness the McWay Falls within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Getting around Carmel-by-the-Sea
Carmel By The Sea is 15 minutes’ drive from Monterey Regional Airport or around two hours from San Francisco International Airport. Buses travel throughout Carmel By The Sea, but having your own vehicle is best for exploring the Big Sur coast.