There are many things which make Carmel California a unique and enjoyable place to visit: history; great food and wine; the arts; charming lodging; pet-friendly facilities and of course, the beach.
Carmel can be a refreshing stop whether you are headed up or down the coast. It is also a great destination for a romantic getaway or weekend. Or Carmel can serve as a base of operations for a longer vacation allowing you to take in the Big Sur coast, the Monterey peninsula or the Carmel Valley.
Carmel-by-the-Sea Quick Facts
- County: Monterey County
- Population: 3,722 (2010)
- Size: 1.08 square miles (691 acres)
- Elevation: 223 ft.
- Coordinates: 36.55511N, 121.9199W (the intersection of Ocean and Junipero Aves.)
- Zip Code: 93921
- Area Code: 831
- City Government: Incorporated 1916
- Founded: 1771
Carmel California History
Carmel-by-the-Sea’s history began at the start of the seventeenth century (1602) when Carmelite Friar Sebastian Vizcaino first explored the area on a sea voyage and named it in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Spain ignored the area until 1770 when Father Junipero Serra and Gaspar de Portola laid the foundations for the city of Monterey and the Mission associated with it.
The mission was to have been located in Monterey, just over the hill, but Father Serra relocated it to Carmel to distance the natives from the soldiers.
The mission, formally known as Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, fell into near ruins over the years and fortunately was restored. It still functions as a Catholic parish and has several museums depicting the history of the mission, the restoration and the region.
Carmel California Modern History
The Carmel-by-the-Sea as we know it today began in 1902 and grew rapidly after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Many artists and writers who had been based in San Francisco settled in the new art colony of Carmel and the village has been a magnet for the arts ever since. And artists have ever liked their homes to reflect their style and that can certainly be seen here in Carmel.
There are more than 100 art galleries in town, and four stages offering venues for stage productions and music.
A sampling of some of the cultural events hosted in Carmel-by-the-Sea include:
- May – Carmel Art Festival & Sculpture in the Park
- July – Carmel Bach Festival
- September – Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival
- October – Carmel Art & Film Festival
Carmel California Food, Wine, Lodging and Shopping
If there is one word that captures and conveys the essence of Carmel’s offerings in the categories above; that word would be boutique.
Unique, one-of-a-kind, special, fashionable and sophisticated would be synonyms. Add to those the word relaxed and you begin to have the sense of Carmel.
Adding to the uniqueness of the boutique experience are the numerous courtyards and passageways (42 of them by the city’s count) that can be found between and among the buildings in the shopping area.
One interesting tidbit about Carmel is that there are no street numbers. No place in town has the traditional sort of address. All mail is picked up at the post office and package delivery companies are given interesting directions such as: Monte Verde 4SW of 8th.
Carmel California – The Beach
“…on a white sand beach”
Carmel-by-the-Sea has a lovely beach, about a mile long, that opens up dramatically as you emerge from the forest that covers the town.
A lovely walking beach, it is also dog-friendly as is all of Carmel. Dogs are allowed off-leash if they are under voice control.
If further ideas are needed for fun at the beach, you can find some here.
And since we have mentioned “dogs”, let it be said that Carmel-by-the-Sea is perhaps the most dog-friendly place in Central California. Be sure to check when you make reservations, but most hotels allow dogs; restaurants with outside dining areas allow dogs there, along with providing water bowls and doggie menus.
If you like to travel with your canine companion, this is the place for you both.