The Best Places to Eat, Play, & Stay in Carmel, California

Off the rugged coastline of Central California, an hour south of Santa Cruz and San Jose, nestled between Steinbeck’s Monterey and Kerouac’s thunderous Big Sur, is the idyllic seaside haven of Carmel. In this whimsical town, the late Doctor Seuss has an art gallery, Clint Eastwood was once mayor, and the scent of cypress and eucalyptus dance with salty air creating an olfactory experience that rivals the onerous beauty of the famed golf links at Pebble Beach just to the north.

This whimsical town swells with enamoring eateries, adventurous spirit, and bohemian sophistication. Flanked on all sides by some of the world’s best golf, hiking, wineries, retreats and attractions in the world, the town of Carmel is often a hub or stopping point rather than a destination in and of itself. Here are a few of the attractions that make spending a day or two in Carmel, the best choice on your visit to California’s central coast…


Carmel has a disproportionately large number of outstanding Italian restaurants. Eat at Little Napoli (or any Chef Pepe restaurants), Cantinetta Luca, and Casanova and you’ve just begun to scratch the surface of delicious Italian cuisine. For breakfast, go to Katy’s Place or for breakfast or lunch, sit on the patio by the fire at The Village Corner Mediterranean Bistro. For an ocean view and a truly unforgettable dining experience, head to just out of downtown to The Mission Ranch. The Mission Ranch (which also features rental cottages) sits above a lush, sheep-filled pasture which stretches out to the Pacific. Start your meal with unforgettable garlic bread, then order a prime rib. After dinner, head to the piano bar where the brave can take the mic and sing along with some of the region’s best piano players. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood. He owns the place.

Courtesy of Cantinetta Luca


Most visitors believe that Carmel’s best wine tasting experience requires a trip twenty or so miles into Carmel Valley. Not true. One could spend an entire (responsible) day tasting wine in more than twenty tasting rooms in downtown Carmel. Silverstri Vineyards Tasting Room features a variety of wines from Chardonnays and Pinot Gris to Syrah. Caraccioli Cellars sparkling wine program features a brut and a brut rosé worth stopping in to try.

The powdery white sand known as Carmel Beach, located at the foot of downtown, is one of the country’s finest beaches. A surfer’s paradise, this dog friendly beach stretches for more than a mile and is punctuated on one end by a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and on the other by Pebble Beach.

Photo By Matt Payne

On the outskirts of Carmel is Point Lobos State Reserve. Though relatively small, a walk along the ethereal forests and cliff sides of this oceanfront park is to experience America at its most beautiful. Watch sea otters and sea lions pull up onto isolated beaches and walk through wildlife-rich, Tolkien-esque woods where the sound of epic waves smashing onto the rocky coast blend with the gentle sound of birds and scurrying squirrels.

Throw a paintbrush in downtown Carmel and you are likely to hit an art gallery. There are more than 100 galleries in the square mile town. In addition to the Art of Doctor Seuss, The Nancy Dodds gallery and the Zantman Art Galleries are worth a visit and the George Rodrigue Studio featuring his famed Blue Dogs also make a home in downtown Carmel.


There is a lot of Hollywood history in Carmel but nowhere is there more than at the Cypress Inn. Co-owned by Doris Day and located in the heart of Carmel, this historic and famously pet friendly boutique hotel features old world hospitality and Mediterranean grace. A short walk from downtown is La Playa Hotel. Once a mansion, this seventy-five room hotel, complete with secluded courtyards, terrace swimming pool and epic ocean views, is one of California’s finest.

La Playa Hotel

How to Spend 36 Hours in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The next time you find yourself in Buenos Aires and only have hours to spend, here’s a 36-hour, must-see and -do guide to help inspire your travels.
Food & Drink

26.2 Brew is a Beer Developed By Runners, For Runners (and for Everyone Else)

Whether you're a runner or not, chances are you're going to like 26.2 Brew, a craft beer developed by runners for runners.
Food & Drink

How to Make the Perfect Lasagna Bolognese, According to a Chef

For a delicious lasagna bolognese recipe, we turn to chef Kristine Mana-ay of Il Principe in New York City.
Food & Drink

What is Wagyu Beef? Arguably the Best Meat on Earth

While the best meat is a matter of individual taste, your money would be pretty safe if you were to bet on Wagyu.

Hitch Hotel Might Be the Most Compact Travel Trailer We’ve Ever Seen

For RV campers and road trippers who value mobility, versatility, and portability, less is more.

5 Free Travel Apps You Should Never Journey Without

From planning to packing to going, these free must-have mobile apps make travel so much easier.

4 Hotels that Are Actually Restored Vintage Travel Trailers

All the retro charm of a classic American road trip with none of the hassle.

5 Best Travel Clothes Brands You Can Get Away with Not Washing

These high-tech, premium pieces are comfortable, quick-drying, odor-resistant, and infinitely wearable.

2 Historic Buildings Become One at Portland’s Woodlark Hotel

Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Woodlark is fresh and sophisticated with classic Old World charm.

The Best GPS Apps for Navigating without Reception

GPS used to require expensive devices but now the power can be found in our pocket.

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet?

This Luxury Sedona Vacation Rental is Like a Personal Resort For Two

Sedona is one of those magical places that most people from around the world fantasize of visiting. The stunning red rocks formations, the timeless canyons with rivers gushing through them, and the spiritual energy of the vortexes that…

These Boutique Hotels Proudly Pay Homage to Their Strip Club Roots

Former gentleman's clubs turned luxury accommodations: where vintage sleaze meets high-brow, designer travel.

Stay Where the Stars of Game of Thrones Stayed with this Sweet Discount Code

Game of Thrones was filmed in some truly spectacular locations — and you can enjoy a discount at some of the best hotels in these cities.