No exploration of California’s central coast is complete without a sojourn to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a town as well known for its shopping as it is for its most famous former civil servant, the Honorable Mayor Clint Eastwood. This quaint amalgamation of art galleries, boutiques, hotels, shops, fine restaurants and whimsically styled homes evokes a storybook ambiance that can be appreciated by romantics of all ages and it is no wonder why Travel + Leisure has named it as one of the "World's Best Cities for Romance." The area around Carmel-by-the-Sea, known simply as Carmel, has breathtaking scenery, wonderful parks and the historic Carmel Mission.
Visit the Carmel-by-the-Sea official website for more information.
History of Carmel-by-the-Sea
The earliest Native American settlers of the Carmel area were the Esselen, followed by the Ohlone. Europeans first settled in Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1771, when Father Junipero Serra established the Carmel Mission.
Developers such as Honore Escolle and S.J. Duckworth worked to subdivide the area in the late 1800s, but it was the Carmel Development Company in 1902 that had the most success in drawing new residents to the area. Many of these new settlers were the bohemian artistic elites of San Francisco, especially visual artists who were inspired by Carmel-by-the-Sea's stunning coastline. By 1906, the artistic community in Carmel-by-the-Sea began to attract media attention, which encouraged even more artists to migrate to the town.
Carmel Art Galleries and Arts
An artistic hotbed for over a century, Carmel-by-the-Sea holds some of the greatest arts establishments in Monterey County. Pacific Repertory Theatre, known regionally as 'PacRep', is the only year-round professional theatre in the Central Coast region. The company presents a season ranging from Broadway musicals, comedies and dramas, to Shakespeare and the classics, and also presents world-class Performing Arts screenings. Performances take place at various PacRep venues including the Golden Bough Theatre, the Circle Theatre-in-the-Round and the Outdoor Forest Theater.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is also home to some of Monterey County's most notable music organizations and festivals. The world-renowned Carmel Bach Festival brings visitors from around the globe to experience over two weeks of music by Johann Sebastian Bach and other Baroque composers. The Monterey Symphony was founded in Carmel-by-the-Sea and performs regularly at the Sunset Cultural Center. For those interested in more modern music, jazz performances take place at restaurants and venues throughout the town.
The Carmel Art Association counts artists such as Mary DeNeale Morgan, Armin Hansen and Francis McComas as its earliest members, and currently features the work of over 120 artists, many internationally known. Smaller galleries throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea also showcase the work of local and international artists. Festivals throughout the year celebrate the visual arts, including the Carmel Art & Film Festival and the Carmel Art Festival.
Since the founding of the Carmel Mission in 1771, the first mission in California to be built from stone, Carmel-by-the-Sea has been known for its incredible buildings. Stroll along the streets and admire the many fantasy cottages in Carmel built by the legendary Hugh Comstock, as well as those designed by architects Julia Morgan, Charles S. Greene and Bernard Maybeck. Drive along Carmel-by-the-Sea's Scenic Road to catch a view of the Walker Residence, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Make a date to tour Tor House, the stone home and tower that poet Robinson Jeffers built for his bride Una with his own two hands.
Carmel-by-the-Sea's Natural Beauty
Carmel-by-the-Sea's rugged coastline, featuring both sandy beaches and rocky, cypress-covered outcroppings, has provided inspiration for artists of every stripe. On any evening, visitors will find town residents enjoying the beauty of a Carmel-by-the-Sea sunset at Carmel Beach while watching surfers ply the waves. Just a mile south, Carmel River State Beach is a popular spot for diving, kayaking, surfing and birding. Point Lobos State Reserve, "the crown jewel of the State Park system," is much-photographed by artists and tourists intent on capturing its astounding beauty.
Carmel-by-the-Sea lodging options range from quaint, cozy inns with a view of the ocean to full-service award-winning hotels. The majority of Carmel-by-the-Sea's hotels are centrally located and have a unique, quaint, cozy charm.
A well-known fine dining destination, Carmel-by-the-Sea's restaurants have a worldwide reputation for excellence, with an emphasis on European and Californian cuisine. If you're seeking a casual dining experience, Carmel-by-the-Sea has several restaurant options that emphasize both local ingredients and a laid-back atmosphere.
This interactive map can show you Carmel-by-the-Sea and how it relates to the area. Click on the plus and minus symbols in the upper left-hand corner to zoom in and out. Click on the arrow symbols to move the map around.
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