Are you heading to Carmel-By-The-Sea for the first time? I recently spent a long weekend in Carmel, California, and here are the 8 things I recommend checking out.

Things to Do in Carmel-By-The-Sea for a Long Weekend - Carmel Beach -

Where is Carmel-By-The-Sea?

Carmel-By-The-Sea is on the Central Coast of California. Carmel-By-The-Sea is next to Monterey, CA, Pebble Beach, and within driving distance of Big Sur.

If you’re flying in from out of town, I recommend flying into San Jose International Airport. I highly recommend renting a car to drive down to Carmel. Depending on traffic, it will take you between 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and a half to get to Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Where to Stay at Carmel-By-The-Sea: Wayside Inn

Address: Mission St &, 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

If you’re looking for a convenient location to stay in Downtown Carmel, I recommend staying in Wayside Inn. While it’s an older hotel, it was clean, and the location was amazing. I parked my car and walked everywhere in Carmel.

Eat breakfast at Stationæry

Address: San Carlos Street, 3 NE of 6th Avenue, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

Breakfast at Carmel by the sea -

If you’re looking for a breakfast spot in Carmel-By-The-Sea, I recommend checking out Stationaery. I also recommend making reservations ahead of time. I showed up before 8:30 am and was seated right away. But parties over 2 had a wait time by 9:30 am.

Here are a few other places in Carmel-By-The-Sea to grab coffee or breakfast:

Cafe Luna: Ocean Ave & Mission St Garden Level, Ste 122 Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

The Carmel Coffee House & Roasting Company: Ocean Ave between San Carlos and Dolores Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

Carmel Belle: Doud Craft Studios Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921

Drive down 17-mile Drive

Address: 17 Mile Dr, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

17 mile drive - Pebble Beach California -

One of the highlights of my weekend in Carmel by the Sea was doing 17-mile drive from Monterey to Carmel. The 17-mile drive goes through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. I recommend entering through the Pacific Grove Gate (closest to Monterey). It’s $11.25 a vehicle to enter 17-mile drive.

There are breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. I recommend taking your time as there are over a dozen stops to see and take photos at.

Hangout at Carmel Beach or enjoy the beach views on Scenic Road

Address: Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

There isn’t much parking at Carmel Beach, so I recommend walking down from Downtown Carmel if you’ve already parked near your inn or hotel. This sandy beach is a great spot for families, dogs, and anyone else who wants to spend some time near the ocean.

You can also walk along Scenic Road. This is about 1.7 mile road that runs along the beach.

Scenic Road in Carmel by the Sea - things to do in Carmel California -

Walk through the Secret Garden at Pilgrim’s Way Books

Address: Dolores St. between 5th & 6th, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

If you want to visit an independent bookstore and walk through a secret garden in Carmel, I recommend stopping by Pilgrim’s Way Books. This bookstore has been in Carmel by the sea for over 50 years. In 2001, the bookstore expanded into the Secret Garden.

Visit the Carmel Mission Basilica

Address: 3080 Rio Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

Did you know that Carmel Mission Basically was originally founded in 1770 in Monterey? The mission was moved in 1771 to its current location in Carmel. The Carmel Mission Basilica was established by Father Junipero Serra. Father Serra served the Native communities of the region, the Esselen and Ohlone. You can read more about the history of the mission at  

Carmel Mission - things to do in Carmel California -

Visit the historic cottages at Carmel by the Sea

One of the most unique things to see in Carmel by the sea are the historic cottages. In 1921, Hugh Comstock designed storybook-styled cottages. Today, 21 of the original Comstock cottages still stand at Carmel by the sea. You can find the Tuck Box in the main Downtown Carmel area.

Tuck Box

Address: Located on Dolores Street between Ocean and 7th Ave.

Tuck Box - historic cottages at Carmel By The Sea -

If you want to eat breakfast, lunch, or grab afternoon tea at the Tuck Box, there are no reservations.

You can also search for the original cottages in the neighborhoods. I went to see the pink Storybook Cottage.

Storybook Cottage - Carmel by the Sea - things to see in Carmel California -

Shop in Downtown Carmel

Whether you’re looking for something to wear or you’re looking for art for your home, there are a ton of shops to explore in Downtown Carmel. Here are three spots to check out for shopping:

Check out the shops in Doude Arcade

Address: 103 Doud Arc, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

Wander through three levels of Carmel Plaza.

Address: Carmel Plaza, Mission Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Stop by Ms. Fabulous for trendy pieces for women

Address: Corner of NW San Carlos and 7th, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Address: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940

Monterey Bay Aquarium - things to do in Carmel By The Sea -

If you’re looking for a fun family activity to do near Carmel, I recommend hopping in the car to drive up to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is only a 20-minute drive from Carmel-By-The-Sea. Personally, I loved the Open Sea exhibit and the Penguins.  

Tickets for Monterey Bay Aquarium are $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for youth (13-17 years old), $34.95 for kids (ages 5-12), and $39.95 for seniors. You must buy tickets electronically.

Pin this post:

8 Things to Do in Carmel-By-The-Sea for a Long Weekend

For more travel guides and recommendations, I recommend checking out:

12 Must-See Attractions for Your First Time in New York City

My 3-Day Itinerary in New York City

Your First Time Guide to Amsterdam

10 Eiffel Tower Photo Spots for Your First Time in Paris

Thank you for reading!