What to See in & Around Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel is great for kids who love the beach and want to spend time on the sand.
aerial photography of landscape

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA is a quiet town in Monterey County with the beach right outside of downtown. This area is perfect for families. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with wide, sandy areas for kids to play and lots of tide pools to explore.

The wind blows hard and temperatures are usually around 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. The waves are gentle–people can stand on the beach without getting their feet wet. Summertime brings a variety of activities, but wintertime brings more time to relax by the fire.

Our top 8 things to see in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA:

  1. The Carmel Mission Inn
    Carmel-by-the-Sea is the arts center of the county. The Carmel Mission Inn, which was built in 1822, is a museum that has hosted many famous people and events. Many famous writers have stayed at the inn. It is also known as one of the best places to stay in Carmel for shopping and dining.
  2. The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
    The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is close by with lots of trails to explore that go through redwood forests, along cliffs, and through caves. It is a great place to visit for hiking and to see wildlife. The reserve features rare animals, such as the mountain yellow-legged frog and the marbled murrelet, which is a seabird that nests on the cliffs of Carmel.
  3. The Monterey Bay Aquarium
    The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s building is also close by. It was opened in 1984 and has more than 16,000 animals from all over the world. Some of these animals include jellyfish in an indoor pool, and California sea lions that swim with swimmers as they go through exhibits that explain how marine life lives and survives in the ocean.
  4. Dancing Goat Chocolates Company
    Sebastopol is the next town over and is a great place to buy organic food and get fresh produce. Sebastopol also has a real-life Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. It’s called the Dancing Goat Chocolates Company, but you can’t actually see it in operation–all you can see is the factory and lots of goats. You can also go into their gift shop on the way to or from the factory.
  5. The Pasta Shop
    Carmel has a lot of restaurants that are perfect for families to eat at. Some of these restaurants include Carmelita’s, Carmel Pizza Company, and The Pasta Shop at The Point. The Pasta Shop has delicious Italian dishes for kids as well as grown-ups. And if you’re going with your family, make sure to plan ahead and order some appetizers or desserts for everyone.
  6. Carmel River State Beach
    The Carmel River State Beach is a great place to go on a sunny day. It’s less crowded than the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and it has lots of sand and tide pools for kids and families to explore. It has a lot of activities for families, including volleyball, frisbee golf, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and surfing.
  7. The Monterey Peninsula Wine Trail
    The Monterey Peninsula Wine Trail is where people can travel from one winery to another by riding a trolley or walking in the beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea area. Some of the wineries that are part of this trail include Huber Estate Winery, La Mirada Winery & Vineyards, and ZD Wines. A few other wineries that offer tours include: Benessere Estate Vineyards (a great place for wine tasting), Marlborough Vineyards (a beautiful oceanfront winery), and Smith Family Wines (which grows grapes and makes wine).
  8. The Pinnacle Peak Patio Theatre on the Green
    The Pinnacle Peak Patio Theatre was built in 1951 as an outdoor concert venue with seating for 1,000 people. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son William who also created Will Rogers Memorial Center in Claremore, Oklahoma. During its time as an outdoor theater, many famous acts have performed there–including Bob Dylan in 1967. Today it hosts plays year-round–and it’s also available to rent out for events such as wedding receptions or meetings outside of Carmel-by-the-Sea.