We love making memories and discovered new places to eat and things to do in Carmel, California. It has felt like forever since we were able to travel and with restrictions easing up finally, we are traveling again! Sammie and I took a girl’s trip. This road trip was to Carmel by the Sea. It has become one of our favorite spots along the California coast.
We have also listed what to do at Monterey too since it’s just a 15-minute drive from Carmel. We hope this helps you plan a road trip or vacation to Carmel if you are planning to travel. It truly is a hidden gem filled with cobblestone streets and storybook buildings…
Are new here? Don’t forget to grab our travel planner. This will help you plan your next trip!
I love a good getaway that includes slow mornings with coffee, days filled with fun, days at the beach, an afternoon of shopping and eating out… All to plop onto a comfy bed to talk, have girl time, and watch shows or… What types of things do you like to do on vacation? Do you love to see sights? Take adventures? Enjoy nature? Shop?…
Where is Carmel, California?
It’s less than two hours north of Central, California, and two hours south of San Francisco, California. If you are visiting California this is one city you don’t want to miss! It’s a hidden gem with storybook homes and boutique businesses and the most beautiful white-sand beaches… It’s a hop, skip and jump from Monterey Bay too!
We tried a few new restaurants, a day at the beach, 2 days of shopping, walked the historic streets of Carmel, visited art galleries, and the iconic 17-mile drive! If you haven’t visited or stayed in Carmel add this to your bucket list of places to go!
Where To Stay In Carmel
Hofsas House Hotel
Our stay was hosted by the Hofsas House Hotel. What we love about staying there is it is within walking distance to downtown Carmel. The hotel includes all the standard amenities you would want/need, plus more. Including wine and cheese in your room at check-in, shampoo, soap… It’s a vintage boutique hotel with an ample parking site. The owners and staff are wonderful! The hotel has free wi-fi, free parking, a swimming pool, pets are allowed…
We kept our car parked for several days while taking walking adventures around Carmel. It’s an easy walk to downtown and where all the shops and dining is. There is plenty of choices of things to do or eat, nearby on the same block too. Just start walking toward downtown.
This time we stayed in the King Suite since we were to meet up with her sister, having a girl’s weekend. The room was nice with everything we needed. A balcony with a pretty view. Inside two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a fireplace and… There is a closet/luggage rack and ample room in the king suite for parents with kids or teens…
Although there is a swimming pool on-site, it was a bit chilly outdoors the weekend we were there. We opted not to swim although the pool was heated.
On our last visit to Carmel, we stayed in the Queen Suite. You can find out more about the hotel from our first stay (Carmel And Hofsas House Stay). We checked off more things to do in Carmel from our list. You can pop over here to see more photos too! Of our queen room, hotel stay, and places we visited on that trip to Carmel.
17 Mile Drive
Then we hopped in the car for a few excursions to Monterey. More shopping, dining, and sightseeing. We went on the 17-mile drive we hopped on at the Carmel entrance gate which is at Carmel Way, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923. (The 17 Mile Drive entrance fee’s $10.75 per vehicle but, fees are waived if you purchase lunch valued at $35. at Pebble beach resorts and restaurants excluding the Pebble Beach Market. ) Once inside the gate, follow the red lines in the road to make the loop. You do get a map at the gate.
Although it was overcast on the day we took the drive there were so many pretty sights to see. We even spotted deer, seagulls, pelicans, and other wildlife along the drive. The plants, trees, and ocean are so beautiful to see!
What to do in Carmel?
Things To Do In Carmel California
- Historic Walking Tour of Carmel (This trip we did the historic walking tour) DIY Site Seeing Map of Carmel
- Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
- Performing Arts & Entertainment: Historic Golden Bough Playhouse, Intimate Circle Theater, and Sunset Center (seats 700)
- Point Lobos State Reserve
- Carmel Valley
- Big Sur
- Don’t forget to check events calendars for art shows and art galleries in Carmel…
- Spend the day at the beach (our first day we had the most glorious weather and discovered Carmel State River Beach) See this photo gallery of the beach plus find out more. Don’t forget to bring a kite! Don’t forget to visit Carmel Beach.
- Take a hike – What hike will you go on? (See this photo gallery of hikes.)
- Go shopping in the heart of downtown Carmel. (Our favorite shops are listed below!) And go shopping at Monterey’s Del Monte Shopping Center (Outdoor Mall)
- 17-Mile Drive Admission to 17-Mile Drive is $10.75 per vehicle. The gate fee is reimbursed with a purchase of $35 or more at all Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants, excluding Pebble Beach Market…
- Go Whale Watching We decided to wait for our next trip. We didn’t want to wear a mask the whole boat trip.
- Eat out – We discovered more restaurants to eat at in Carmel and Monterey. See our picks below.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium (nearby and reopened again!) Our previous trips and tips – Monterey Bay Aquarium: Planning & Travel Tips and Monterey Bay Aquarium Planning & Travel Tips part 2 Unfortunately, when we were there this time the Monterey Bay Aquarium was still closed. But, it’s open now! If you haven’t been you will enjoy going through it and it is also located by Cannery Row.
- Visit the iconic Cannery Row.
- Pacific’s Grove Monarch Grove – Visit a Butterfly Reserve.
Use This List of “Things To Do In Carmel” to help you plan your trip! Tag us on social media @DearCreatives on Twitter and Instagram. What are your favorite things in Carmel By The Sea?
Things To Do In Carmel, California
Shopping In Carmel
Some of our favorite shops we discovered on this trip were (in no particular order)
- Lush -At Ocean Ave and Monte Verde St. – Handmade bath and body products. We picked up glittery bath bombs and soaps that smell like the sea.
- Ms. Fabulous – At San Carlos and 7th – Women’s clothing – (And we chatted with the owner. She was sweet!) We purchased matching hair scrunchies and…
- The Carmel Hat Company – At Ocean Ave.
- Fine Turkish Art Gallery at 3 NW Ocean Ave. Sammie picked up all kinds of jewelry and the most beautiful coasters.
- Diggity Dog – At Ocean Ave. and Monte Verde St. – Specialty Cat and Dog Boutique. We couldn’t leave without a new dog collar for Luna. It’s lime green with rhinestones.
- Thinker Toys – At 7th Ave. and San Carlos St. – Toys, gifts, beach toys, and educational toys…
- Coach Outlet – At Ocean and San Carlos St.
- House of Cardoon Gift Shop At Ocean Ave. and Mission Street
- Carmel Plaza (directory) At Ocean Ave and Misson Street
- We went into a little shop owned by an elderly couple. This shop was closing. We hope they have a great next chapter and retirement. We love supporting small businesses.
- Sammie picked up the cutest sun hat for the beach. I can’t remember the name of the gift shop.
And in Monterey at the mall, we shopped for clothes and I grabbed a few sale items from Crate and Barrel for my food photography.
Where To Eat In Carmel?
Places To Eat In Carmel
- Dametra Cafe – At the Corner of Ocean and Lincoln Street Mediterranean, European, Turkish, Greek, Healthy, Middle Eastern cuisine. Indoor/outdoor seating. (Pet-friendly outdoor seating) Open 11am-10pm Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm Friday-Saturday. (menu) They have outdoor seating too.
- Cypress Inn – Terry’s Lounge Lincoln & 7th Street Carmel -The locally sourced menu has a Mediterranean flair yet remains true to its Monterey Bay roots. Indoor/Outdoor seating. (Pet-friendly)Great for appetizers, (lunch) and (dinner). (To keep it budget-friendly opt. for a late lunch. Lunch served 11:30am-3:30pm. Dinner 5:00pm-8:30pm. Sunday Brunch 11 am-3:30 pm and has a happy hour 4:30 pm-6:00 pm. (subject to changes)
- Carmel Cafe – At Ocean Ave. Between Mission and San Carlos Street – Perfect for coffee, breakfast, and lunch. Plus, grab bakery goods! Open 7:30 am – 6:00 pm. (subject to changes) Indoor/Outdoor Seating.
Our thoughts on the Carmel dining experience
Dining in Carmel is a bit pricier at dinner! To avoid the crowds and costs eat a late lunch/early dinner! There are plenty of seafood restaurants and other choices too. We definitely will be eating at all three places again! The food is amazing and the service was excellent.
- At Dametra Cafe I had the Artichoke Ravioli which was amazing. Sammie had the Dametra pasta with chicken. She loved her dinner too.
- At Terry’s Lounge, I had the Chicken Piccata and Sammie had the Fish Taco plate. These two meals were really good! Lunch was under $50. with tip.
- For breakfast, we headed to the cafe down the street (Carmel Cafe). We had their Croissant Breakfast Baskets and Lattes. The food and beverages were really good! On a different day, we grabbed coffee and a pastry. The pastries and food were so good and fresh!
The night we were at Dametra’s they were very accommodating as we were with my brother and his family who had a dog with them. They had spent the day with us at the beach. Then they headed home to Northern, California. Terry’s Lounge at the Cypress Inn is supposed to be dog friendly too. We didn’t have a dog with us the day we ate there. (All dogs must be on a leash.)
Where To Eat In Monterey
Are looking for budget-friendly dining? When you are in Carmel you might want to check out more places to eat in Monterey. After a day of shopping in Monterey at the Del Monte shopping center, we opted to eat at the Chilis Seaside location. The food was good and so was the service. And what you would expect for a Chilis restaurant.
In previous visits, we did eat at the wharf and the pricing is similar to Carmel for dinner. We also ate at a few Mexican taquerias in Monterey. One was El Cantro 791 Foam St, Monterey.
For burgers, you might like American Burger in Monterey 738 Lighthouse Ave Monterey, CA. They have classic burgers and fries, veggie burgers, fish, and chips… and are open 11 am -8 pm. Both were good and fair price point. This is nearby the Monterey Bay Aquarium area.
Don’t forget to bring a kite, snacks, and other beach gear. Spend the day at the beach! Carmel State River Beach does allow dogs (on a leash) and has public restrooms. We found Carmel to be very dog-friendly!
Looking for more things to do in Carmel? Or Monterey? and Pacific Grove things to do. These are all nearby if you have a car to get around with.
Pin It For Later!
Are you driving from San Francisco? Consider stopping at these sites.
- Winchester Mystery House & Victorian Gardens *California Historical Landmark #868
- Great America San Jose, CA Insider Tips
- See all our travel posts from the drop-down menu under lifestyle.
Where are you planning to visit or travel to next?