Welcome to Carmel

Artistic coastal community with excellent retail and dining.
Carmel is a charming coastal city nestled along the spectacular Monterey Peninsula coastline between Pebble Beach in the north and the Carmel Highlands and Big Sur in the south. Also known as Carmel-by-the-Sea, this quaint town grew as an artists’ colony in the early 1900s, with around 60% of its first homes being owned by those engaged in the aesthetic arts. Carmel remains a vibrant cultural scene with many galleries, festivals, and boutiques. This trendy and posh community also boasts exquisite dining, gorgeous parks, and natural scenery.
Carmel’s unique vibe has made it an example for urban planners around the world on how to successfully preserve a community’s character. Most houses are named instead of numbered and built around existing trees. The eclectic architecture includes lovely coastal cottages, stylish condominiums, and attractive single-family homes in a range of styles, from early 20th-century originals to captivating contemporary custom-builds.

What to Love

  • Unique character
  • Art and culture
  • Excellent shopping and dining
  • Festivals and events

People & Lifestyle

Carmel offers its residents a fantastic lifestyle with many outstanding options for shopping, dining, and outdoor recreation. Popular activities in the local area include whale watching, bike riding, kayaking, and hiking. This historic hub of art and culture also remains a favored place among working artists who take inspiration from its beautiful landscape.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping

Carmel is a fantastic shopping and dining destination, with several shopping centers and a charming downtown area centered on Ocean Avenue. Standout local restaurants include lively Greek and Mediterranean spot Dametra Café, rustic Italian bistro Little Napoli, laid-back A.W. Shucks Oyster & Cocktail Bar for great drinks and delicious fresh seafood, and La Bicyclette for mouthwatering French and Italian-style dishes. Casanova also serves great French and Italian-inspired meals in a romantic setting, which features a famous table once dined at by Van Gogh. Refined chocolatier Lula’s Chocolates has a location on Mission Street in the heart of downtown Carmel and another at The Crossroads Carmel
Located at the intersection of Rio Road and the Cabrillo Highway to Carmel’s southeast, The Crossroads is a high-end shopping and dining destination with dozens of stores and restaurants. Highlights include delightful home furnishing stores Casa di Campagna and The Hearth Shop, fashion-conscious travel gear at Tops ‘n’ Travel, sportswear specialist The Treadmill, and inviting family-run bookstore River House Books
More merchants and restaurants can be found across the street lining the attractive tiered courtyards of The Barnyard Shopping Village. At The Barnyard, you’ll find fashion retailers such as Heidi’s Shoes and Patrick James Fine Clothing and original artwork at studios such as Brian Blood Fine Art and Mark Farina Art Studio
Straddling Mission Street and Ocean Avenue in the heart of downtown Carmel, Carmel Plaza is a sophisticated outdoor shopping plaza featuring upscale brands such as Tiffany & Co., Anthropologie, Kate Spade, Bottega Veneta, and Sur la Table. 
Other downtown retailers include luxury apparel at Coach at Carmel, pet supplies at Diggidy Dog, fine jewelry and vintage watches at Fourtané, homemade and imported British-style candies at Cottage of Sweets, kids’ favorite Thinker Toys, and year-round holiday decorations store Kris Kringle of Carmel.

Things to Do

Carmel-by-the-Sea’s rich artistic heritage lives on in its many boutique stores and art galleries. Many local galleries and art studios participate in May’s Carmel Art Festival. The festival also features live music, plein air and quick-draw art contests, and a silent auction for fine art pieces created over the weekend. 
The two-week summertime Carmel Bach Festival is another signature art celebration centered on a four-day concert series at the Sunset School Auditorium and Carmel Mission Basilica. Originally constructed in 1797, careful restoration work over the years has enshrined Carmel Mission Basilica as one of California’s most stunning historic landmarks. Along with the Bach Festival performances, the Basilica hosts other performances throughout the year and has four museum galleries exploring local history. 
Carmel’s status as a gourmet hub of food and drink is celebrated in festivals such as March’s Relais & Chateaux GourmetFest, May’s Winemakers Celebration, and October’s Taste of Carmel
Carmel is also close to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural scenery along the Big Sur coastline. A short drive south on California State Route 1, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve’s sprawling expanse of coastal canyons and kelp forests have been called the crown jewel of California’s 280 state parks and the greatest meeting of land and water in the world. Continue south to Garrapata State Park for more stunning scenery. Trails connect Garrapata’s pristine beaches to dense redwood forests against a backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. Both parks offer rugged hiking trails and the chance to see migrating whales and other wildlife.


Carmel is zoned to the Carmel Unified Public School District. Highlights include:
  • Carmel River Elementary School, Public, K-5
  • Carmel High School, Public, 9-12
  • Stevenson School, Private (Co-educational), PK-8
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