At just one-square-mile, Carmel-by-the-Sea is Monterey County’s smallest village, but for what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in excitement. This notoriously charming European-style town offers a plethora of activities and attractions including cozy bed and breakfasts’, art galleries, culinary delights, wine tasting rooms, performing arts venues and the famous white sands of Carmel Beach. Make the most of every hour in your day with the itinerary below.

Day 1

9:30am

Start your ambitious journey with a solid caffeine fix at one of the oldest businesses in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel Bakery on Ocean Avenue offers a variety of beverages, grab-and-go snacks and baked goods like no other. Since you’re on vacation, mix things up and have dessert for breakfast: their homemade cannoli are simply divine!

Carmel Bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Carmel Bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea

10am

Time to shop! With your sugar rush in full swing it’s the perfect time to hit the charming storefronts along Carmel’s main drag, Ocean Avenue, and the surrounding side streets. Browse luxurious designer brands like Tiffany’s and Anthropologie at Carmel Plaza or take to the various specialty shops for one-of-a-kind jewelry, home goods, gifts and clothes.

Carmel Plaza's central courtyard

Be sure to stop by a few of the many art galleries in the area. Get a slice of the overall art scene at the Carmel Art Association’s gallery on Dolores Street, where they showcase artwork from over 100 local artists. Just down the street, the Dr. Seuss Art Gallery is full of whimsical pieces that are sure to stir up nostalgic feelings from your childhood.

Dr. Seuss Gallery in Carmel-by-the-Sea

12pm

Get a taste of some of Monterey Bay's freshest seafood at Flaherty's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar. Start off with a cup of their award-winning lobster bisque followed by their popular seared scallop and crab risotto, delish!

Scallops & Pacific Crab Risotto

1pm

Work off that lunch and take a stroll down to Carmel Beach. Take a breather and simply soak in the sights and sounds of crashing waves, dashing dogs and dolphins swimming in the surf. This iconic white-sand beach is particularly stunning at sunset, when locals and visitors alike come out to enjoy Mother Nature’s nightly show.

Carmel Beach

3pm

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Carmel-by-the-Sea has seen a recent boom in wine tasting rooms which is never a bad thing. Dozens of tasting rooms are scattered throughout a one-square-mile radius, the hardest part is choosing which ones to try! Wine taste with ease with the Carmel Wine Walk Passport giving you access to 14 tasting rooms. Start at Wrath Wines in Carmel Plaza offers for an incredible Pinot Noir.

Wrath Wines in Carmel-by-the-Sea

5pm

Round out your foodie experience with an early dinner reservation at Grasing's on Mission Street. Their coastal cuisine highlights the area’s exceptional local and organic bounties of produce, steak and seafood. Start off with their truffle and white cheddar popcorn, you will not regret it!

Grasings in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Grasings in Carmel-by-the-Sea

7pm

Once the sun sets, mosey on over to one of the local theatres for a taste of the performing arts scene. The architecturally stunning Sunset Center regularly plays host to world-class performances and live events including global music, comedy, rock shows, theatre, and dance. Looking for a more intimate venue? Watch the local talent in a rendition of a popular musical or play at the Golden Bough Playhouse.

Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea

8:30pm

Cap off your night under the stars at the Rooftop Lounge at Vesuvio. Take a seat by one of the fire pits and try one of Chef Pepe’s limoncello cocktails.

Vesuvio in Carmel-by-the-Sea

9:30pm

Wind down your busy day at a friendly inn or charismatic bed and breakfast. There’s a room and theme for just about any taste and budget: experience the genuine hospitality at Hofsas House, historic highlights at Pine Inn, stunning ocean views at La Playa, or high-end luxury at L’Auberge. Click here to view all lodging options in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Hofsas House in Carmel-by-the-Sea

La Playa in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Day 2

9am

Stroll down to Carmel Belle and enjoy a light breakfast. The avocado toast and a cup of jo are the perfect way to start another busy day! Post up near their cozy indoor fireplace and blend in with the locals.

Open-Faced Avocado at Carmel Belle

10am

Get lost in the town's tucked away courtyards and shops or roam around Devendorf Park (across from Carmel Plaza) at your leisure.

11am

Carmel is a food lover's dream and there is no better way to experience the local foodie scene than with a guided Carmel Food Tour. Meet your guide on the corner of San Carlos & 9th Avenue in downtown Carmel for an unforgettable three hour culinary experience. The tour is an easy 1.3 mile walk with seven stops including a variety of food samplings, olive oil tastings and sweet treats.

Trio Carmel

2pm

Now that you're nice and full, mosey over to those wine tasting rooms you weren't able to make it to yesterday. Galante Vineyards and Carmel Road Winery are a can't miss!

Carmel Road Winery

6pm

Can you believe your 24 hours is almost up? Round out your trip with an incredible dinner at Basil Seasonal Dining. Tucked away in a whimsical courtyard, this sustainable favorite serves up a locally sourced menu including a delicious Monterey Bay abalone and luscious braised beef cheeks. 

Basil Seasonal Dining