I’d heard about Carmel-by-the-Sea from my mother and father when they visited there years ago. My Dad was a golfer and they toured the Pebble Beach area and Carmel-by-the-Sea with my aunt and uncle sometime in the 1990s and came back raving about it. My mother fell in love with the area and it’s picturesque village of storybook homes and dramatic rocky coastline. After we visited it, I can see why she fell in love. The coastline is reminiscent of the coastline in Maine which my mother loved and the storybook cottages and beautiful shops and stores depict the perfect storybook life.
The storybook theme started when a man named Hugh Comstock built a home for his wife, Mayotta. She was a doll maker and needed a place that would be appropriate to display her collection of dolls for her business. He fashioned the homes in a whimsical style with hand made frequently imperfect details. This unique style in this village that was full of writers and artists became very popular and numerous cottages were built. Today this fairy tale style makes up a good portion of the village shops, restaurants and art galleries in the area and it makes you feel like you are living in a storybook fairy tale.
The image above is the Tuck Box eatery in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and it is the only commercial property Hugh Comstock ever made.
Image Info: image is the property of Trevor B. via Yelp.
Fun and/or Interesting facts about Carmel-by-the-Sea
- There are no street addresses because the founding fathers opted for a centralized Post Office instead. Today most people that live in Carmel by the Sea use P.O boxes. The city is now being urged to change it due to the implementation of the Homeland Security “Real ID” program which requires a unique verifiable address.
- As of 2019, 3,830 people live in Carmel-by-the-Sea City limits.
- According to Zillow in 2021 the typical home price in Carmel-by-the-Sea is $2,242,862.
- The temperatures in Carmel-by-the-Sea remain incredibly consistent throughout the year. In December and January the temperature ranges from 44 to 64 degrees and in August it ranges from 53 to 69 degrees.
- Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea for one term in 1986.
- There are other unusual rules or laws in Carmel-by-the-Sea, take a look at this list.
These images were taken at Moss Beach & China Rock Vista Point as we drove towards Carmel from Monterey. This portion of the drive was filled with beautiful ocean views & rocky beaches.
You must pay a fee (currently $10.50 per car) to drive on it and note that motorcycles are not allowed. The per-car fee gets you in, and you'll get a driving guide to take along with you. The gate fee is reimbursed with a purchase of $35 or more at all Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants, excluding Pebble Beach Market. Bicycles can enter for free if they enter through the Pacific Grove gate.
Click here to read the Wikipedia Article on the 17 Mile Drive area, it has an interesting history.
We entered Carmel via the "Carmel Gate" on 17 Mile Drive and drove to Ocean Avenue to look for parking so we could get some images of Carmel Beach. One advantage of getting there early in the morning was that there was quite a bit of parking available.
As you can see, Carmel Beach is pretty and a number of residents were out walking their dogs on the beach (this is a dog friendly beach by city law). Once we had enjoyed the beach view, we started driving again along Scenic Road, which is lined with beautiful homes all the way down to Carmel Point.
There is a free small parking lot on Ocean Avenue as well as free, on-street parking on Camino Real and along Scenic Road which parallels the Beach. Restrooms are located at the foot of Ocean Avenue and on Scenic Road at Santa Lucia Avenue.
Carmel's downtown area is small but very diverse with numerous shops, boutiques, restaurants and other places of interest, we explored most of the downtown area, and went into several shops. Masks are required in most stores (during the Pandemic), so you should plan on bringing your mask or you will be asked to not enter.
We stopped for a snack at Carmel Bakery (Ocean Avenue between Dolores St. & Lincoln St.) for a pastry & espresso before we drove to Point Lobos. This is a great bakery, and they have a wide variety of items; Brownies, Muffins, Scottish shortbread, English scones, Italian biscotti and giant soft Bavarian pretzels. Deli-style sandwiches, house made soups and fresh salads are also available. We decided to be decadent and eat bakery items for lunch. Celeste had a croissant and I ate a brownie and we both had iced coffees. We were having a fairytale afternoon after all. What could be better than eating croissants and brownies for lunch. We sat at tables outside on the sidewalk with our goodies, soaking up the sun on a beautiful afternoon, munching away and escaping reality …. our little bit of heaven.
For a complete list of what you can find in downtown Carmel, click here.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a great place to visit for a number of reasons, ie; sights are incredible, photography opportunities in every direction, nature studies, picnicking, SCUBA diving, hiking, and jogging. We obviously drove past here on our way north to Monterey, which prompted us to read more about it later - and what we read convinced us that we needed to visit this park.
For those of you who understand Spanish, you might think that "Point Lobos" might mean that the park contains wolves. No, the name came from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos ("Point of the Sea Wolves") where the sound of the sea lions carries inland (sea lions make sounds that sound like dogs or wolves barking).
See those dark colored birds in image # 6 above? They were playing in the surf, and they would ride the surf until it brought them back to the rocks at which point they would hop out of the water onto the rocks. They did it over & over again, and it was obvious to us that they were having fun!
There are several parking lots inside the park, and there is additional parking allowed along California SR-1 outside the park. The State Park Service is currently limiting cars inside the park until there is parking space available - so you may find that when you arrive that you will be turned away until other people leave the park.
There are a number of hiking trails, we selected the trail to Coal Chute Point, which sits on the north side of Whaler's Cove. Not a long hike, but the payoff is the beautiful area surrounding Whaler's Cove.
The history of Carmel began with Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s first sighting of the white-sand beach and pine forest of Carmel 50 years after Columbus discovered America. Click here to read the complete history of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Father Junipero Serra founded the second California mission ("Mission Carmel") in 1771, which still stands on the edge of present day Carmel-by-the-Sea. This Mission and this area became Junipero Serra's favorite and he made this Mission his California headquarters. When he passed away in 1784, he was buried beneath the chapel floor. In 1834 the mission buildings and lands were removed from Catholic Church control by the Mexican government.
The City of Carmel was incorporated on October 31, 1916.
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