Carmel by the Sea

The small beach community of Carmel by the Sea is known for its fairy tale cottages, surf spot Carmel Beach, and Scenic Bluff Path. It also became famous when Clint Eastwood became mayor in 1986! It’s a quaint village off Highway One, tucked away between the famous Pebble Beach and the stunning Point Lobos State Reserve.

Beaches

< Carmel Beach, Carmel by the Sea >
Carmel Beach

One of the best reasons to visit Carmel by the Sea are the outdoor activities. Carmel Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of white sand in the world. The famed Pebble Beach Golf Links lie to the north and the historic Frank Lloyd Wright house and Point Lobos span the southern edge. Carmel Beach is the perfect place for a walk or jog any time of day. You can also find surfers, dogs, picnics, weddings, sunbathers, and sunset watchers on Carmel Beach. From morning to night, Carmel Beach attracts visitors and locals to enjoy the majestic scenery and outdoor activities.

< Rainbow over Carmel Beach >
There’s a rainbow over Carmel Beach

Houses

Carmel by the Sea is a European-style village nestled on the Monterey peninsula. It’s not a cheap place to live; I stopped by a few houses for sale to check out the papers out front and they were all $800,000 and up, but the houses look like they belong in a fairy tale.

< Fairy tale house in Carmel-by-the-Sea >
Image via Big Sur Lodging

Whether you’re looking for a place to play out a fairy tale life, staying overnight for a romantic getaway, or just driving through Carmel by the Sea, stop and check out the esoteric neighborhoods and magical houses.

Things to Do

There’s plenty to do in Carmel whether you have one day or one week. The fine scenery, historic sites, restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries offer plenty of ways to pass the time, whether on foot, bike, or car. Walk the town’s stone-paved alleyways and admire the curlicue-roofed shops. Visit outdoor malls or family run boutiques. Carmel’s shopping environment leaves you wanting for nothing and everything.

Carmel is a unique artist colony. Whether you’re an artist yourself or an admirer, you can visit nearly 100 galleries within one square mile featuring the one-of-a-kind works of world-famous artists.

If you can’t make it to Napa to go wine tasting, try wine tasting in Carmel by the Sea! There are many wine bars, tasting rooms, and bottle shops. You’ll really get the sense of fairy tale life walking through the charming European style village, getting to know local winemakers, and socializing with locals and visitors alike.

The Mission San Carlos de Borromeo dates back to 1771, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that Carmel really started to grow around an eclectic group of young artists, writers, and intellectuals. Now, Carmel is a haven for these artists in a one-of-a-kind place of world-wide appeal and recognition. You can see works of fine art in the Gallery Carmel Art Association. It’s a great place to visit if the weather doesn’t happen to be on your side.

< Carmel Art Association >
Image via Carmel California

Fun Facts

Carmel by the Sea is a charming one-square-mile village, however in this small town you can find nearly 100 art galleries.

“Go ahead, make my day.” Clint Eastwood was mayor of Carmel from 1986-1988. It’s been 30 years since he was mayor but visitors to Carmel still ask, “Is Clint Eastwood still the mayor?” He did not run for a second term.

Prior to 1986, the town had an ordinance in which selling and eating ice cream on public streets was prohibited. This was one of Clint Eastwood’s focus points when he ran for mayor in 1986. He did end up overturning this law and others he felt were too restrictive for businesses and visitors.

Carmel’s municipal code bans wearing high heels over 2 inches tall or with a base of less than one square inch unless the wearer has obtained a permit for them. The ordinance started in the 1920s to help people avoid tripping over the irregular pavement distorted by tree roots. Local police do not cite those in violation of the ordinance, it isn’t an urban myth. Permits are available for free at City Hall.

Carmel’s houses have no street addresses. The founding fathers didn’t want to see their village become “citified” and rejected the idea of house-to-house mail delivery. To this day, there are still no addresses, parking meters, or street lights, and no sidewalks outside of the downtown area. To give or receive directions, you might hear, “fourth house on the west side of Casanova Street, red trim, white fence.” Many houses also have names, like the “Sea Urchin” or “Hansel.” It’s interesting to note that it’s bad luck to change the name on a Carmel cottage.

There are no fast food or chain restaurants in Carmel. The village is full of charming eateries and tasting rooms with a full range of cuisines, all within walking distance of the 40 hotels and inns. Great dining is abundant, but don’t expect to get your Starbucks coffee in the morning.

What attracts you most to Carmel-by-the-Sea? Could you live in a fairy tale town like this, or do you need the conveniences of modern life? Talk to me in the comments below!

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< Carmel-by-the-Sea, California >

P.S. You might also like Monterey and Pebble Beach

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