Our Best tips: Things to Do in Carmel and Nearby Areas
Explore the Central Coast
You will be drawn to Carmel-by-the-Sea for its incredible diversity of activities—from hiking, cycling, and whale watching, to indulging in local cuisine and browsing art galleries, to exploring the famous Monterey Peninsula and nearby Big Sur. We are enamored of this area and love to share insider tips on what to see and do. Add play to your stay with The Getaway, your downtown Carmel outpost on the Central Coast, with our collection of exciting offerings curated just for you.
Much like Carmel-by-the-Sea itself, the Central Coast is alive with unexpected attractions designed to invoke the imagination. Dream big, live large, and get inspired with these top attractions.
Things to see & do in Carmel & surrounds
The famed driving tour in Pebble Beach takes you along a picturesque stretch of coastline as you weave through forests, beaches, and golf cart thruways. Explore seal habitats, the Lone Cypress, and the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links from the seat of your car.
Start your visit at Weston Gallery in downtown for inspiration before venturing out on a photographic journey of Carmel and Monterey. The prominent photo gallery presents works featuring the surrounding area from the likes of Andel Adams, Edward Weston, and many more renowned photographers.
- A must for its rooftop terrace, exceptional cocktails and wine, and southern Italian cuisine
Carmel-by-the-Sea calls for enjoying your libations on a rooftop under the sun or stars. After a meal of authentic pizza, housemade pasta, and Italian-Asian fusion sushi at Vesuvio, head upstairs to the Starlight Rooftop Lounge where you’ll walk out to a buzzing rooftop with firepits, music, and friendly bartenders.
Known for its large white sand beach, Carmel City Beach is only steps from The Getaway. The beach offers a wide space for activities to satisfy every type of traveler, from hiking to kite flying, sunbathing to shell seeking, and beach bonfires to playing a game of fetch in the sand with your dog.
Kick it into high gear with a retro electric bike rental from Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Traverse the Scenic Drive in Carmel, 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, or Point Lobos trails from their downtown shop, only steps from The Getaway.
Come for the rustic French and Italian cuisine crafted with locally sourced ingredients, stay for the Van Gogh table. The table at which Vincent Van Gogh enjoyed his meals at the Auberge Ravoux in France was generously gifted to this Carmel eatery.
From a 1965 Ford Shelby Cobra to a 1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III, take to the road with a classic car rental. Let Monterey Touring Vehicles transform your Big Sur or 17-Mile Drive tour into something truly special with their vast collection of vintage, luxury, and exotic classic cars.
Friendly ambiance, live entertainment, and spectacular service makes this charming space one of Carmel’s most beloved places to grab a bite.
Only minutes from The Getaway, Carmel River Beach has all the makings for a fun day on the sand, without all the foot traffic. This 1-mile long pet-friendly beach also attracts visitors who like to explore the adjacent lagoon with endless photo ops.
From Alsace Muenster to Cave Aged Gruyere, The Cheese Shop’s selection of gourmet cheeses from around the world makes for the perfect edible souvenir. Visit the long-running shop in Carmel Plaza for their esoteric wine selection and more savory treats.
The beautiful stretch of coast south of Carmel-by-the-Sea is a natural wonderland. From Carmel, take Highway 1 south and make frequent stops at the vista points along the way for glimpses of towering bridges, seaside cliffs, waterfalls, and rocky inlets.
By land or by sea, explore the Monterey Peninsula (while getting in a killer workout) with Adventures by the Sea. The recreational company rents out kayaks, paddleboards, electric bikes, and four wheel surreys, with optional guided tours available.
One-of-a-kind boutiques, wine tasting rooms, salons, wellness studios, and eateries make up the ultra chic Carmel Plaza nestled along Ocean Drive and Mission Street. Relax between browsing the shops in the pet-friendly open-air courtyard, complete with cozy seating areas, outdoor firepits, gardens, and an annual Summer Live Music Series.
Exploring the flavors of Oaxaca using the bounty of California’s Central Coast, Cultura crafts an unforgettable dining experience. The upscale Mexican bistro serves innovative mains, including ample vegetarian and vegan options, complete with a full bar specializing in seasonal cocktails and traditional mezcal.
- Explore hiking trails, coves, and majestic headlands in this nature reserve
Considered the “crown jewel” of the California park system, Point Lobos has family-friendly hiking trails, tidal pools, and exceptional views of the rugged coast. Spot pelicans, birds of prey, and a variety of marine mammals on the Cypress Grove Loop and Bird Island Trail.
The leading education, research, and conservation aquarium in Monterey offers an immersive experience through engaging programming. The exhibits are superb, with a variety of sea life including electric jellyfish, otters, penguins, sea turtles, and a touch pool.
Located seven miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Garrapata State Beach is proud of its unspoiled vibes. Visitors can explore the spectacular shoreline and if lucky, can spot migratory whales off the coast.
Princess Monterey Whale Watching offers exciting excursions off the Monterey coast to witness Blue, Humpback, Orcas, and Gray whales in their natural habitat. The year-round narrated whale watching tour is led by biologists and naturalists, ensuring it is as educational as it is exciting.
- Eat & Drink