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Your guide to Carmel-by-the-Sea
All About Carmel-by-the-Sea
Situated on California’s scenic Highway 1, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming town filled with art galleries, boutique shops, and cottages that look like they came straight out of a fairy tale. For more than 100 years, the town located just outside of Monterey has attracted creatives from all over, contributing to its distinctly bohemian, laid-back vibe. Besides its gorgeous beaches, Carmel boasts a lively downtown where you’ll find big-name stores alongside specialty, family-owned businesses. Stop by an independent cafe located in a European-style courtyard from the 1920s, or sample locally made wines in a Tudor-style home-turned-tasting room.
You can also take a stroll around the Comstock Historic Hill District, which features a collection of storybook cottages full of odd angles and quirky architecture, and each month there is an Art Walk when local artists showcase their work. Head to the late 18th-century Carmel Mission at the edge of town and admire its creamy exterior and richly decorated rooms. While the town of Carmel is certainly idyllic, the best way to explore the area is to get out of it through a scenic drive along the coastline.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Fall is one of the best times to visit Carmel, thanks to the warm, sunny weather that is perfect for exploring the nearby nature reserves and beaches. The temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much throughout the year, but it does take a little bit of a dip in winter, and you will see more rain from December to March, but this is the perfect time to visit if you’d like to explore the area with fewer people around. In the spring, the skies clear and bougainvillea blooms throughout town. The summer is the busiest season, and, though it never gets too hot, you will see almost no rain during this time. No matter what time of year you book your Carmel vacation rental, it is important to bring plenty of layers of clothing, as the weather can change quickly here.
Top things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
This beautiful coastal reserve lies along the headlands of the Monterey Peninsula, home to rocky cliffs, white sand coves, and an array of hiking trails. The park has an incredibly diverse range of flora and fauna, including more than 20 species of land mammals, such as pocket gophers, bobcats, and grey foxes, as well as sea lions, red-shouldered hawks, and alligator lizards.
Monarch Grove Sanctuary
Just over 15 minutes north of Carmel-by-the-Sea, this enthralling sanctuary is one of the main southbound migration spots for Monarch butterflies. As you walk along the sanctuary's pathways, you can catch a glimpse of these fluttering orange and black beauties resting in the trees. The migration season generally lasts from mid-October until mid-May, but the Monarch Grove Sanctuary is a wonderful, tranquil place to visit all year round.
Connecting Carmel to Monterey, 17-Mile Drive is one of the most scenic drives in California that features rugged seaside cliffs against the dark blue backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Along the rocky coastline of the Monterey Peninsula, you’ll pass by the cities of Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, as well as luxurious seaside abodes and the 250-year-old Lone Cypress that stands all by itself on a rocky outcrop.