Getting lost is not typically something you want to happen while on a vacation, but in Carmel-by-the-Sea it is actually a treat! With a lack of numbered addresses, one way streets and tucked away passageways it’s easy to lose your bearings in this charming one square mile labyrinth of cobblestone streets.
The village’s cobblestone streets are sprinkled with dozens of passageways and courtyards just waiting to be explored. Read on for a glimpse into a few of our favorites.
1. Secret Garden Passageway
The name really says it all. This narrow walkway transports you into a Zen state of mind full of Asian inspired décor and soothing sounds of water fountains. The tiny shortcut connects Dolores Street and San Carlos Street and is home to Pilgrim’s Way hidden bookshop and The Secret Garden gift shop.
2. Pine Inn Courtyard
Stroll through one of the oldest parts of Carmel-by-the-Sea at the Pine Inn Courtyard. The red brick terrace is home to the Pine Inn (built in 1903) and several boutique shops including Fourtané Jewelers. Be sure to stop in at the Il Fornaio restaurant and café for a quick drink and a peek at their impressive glass dome.
3. Der Ling Lane & Passageway
Quite possibly the most photographed passageway in Carmel is the Der Ling Lane. The charming alleyway is surprisingly located just off of busy Ocean Avenue and Lincoln with several businesses including Galante Vineyards Wine Tasting, Thomas Kinkade Gallery and B&G Jewelers. Lights strung overhead, climbing ivy and unique business signs make this a photographer’s dream.
4. Doud Arcade
Step inside a colorful indoor bazaar at the Doud Arcade located at Ocean Avenue and San Carlos Street. This hidden delight is home to a cluster of unique gift shops like the quirky Sock Shop, iconic Carmel Hat Company and always in-season Kris Kringle Christmas Shop. You will also find a handful of restaurants like Carmel Belle serving up gourmet grab-and-go dishes and A.W. Shucks for fresh seafood and the best Bloody Mary.
5. Court of the Golden Bough
Find your way into a storybook village with cobblestone walkways and whimsical architectural details at the Court of the Golden Bough. Tucked behind the lovable Cottage of Sweets, the Golden Bough Theatre takes main residence and leads to other treasures like authentic Italian cuisine at il Tegamino and nearby Portabella’s with an excellent outdoor patio for people watching.
6. Paseo San Carlos
An enclave off of San Carlos Street, Paseo San Carlos is yet another tucked away sanctuary full of Carmel delights. The outdoor terrace is particularly cozy with colorful flower beds, Dutch doors and red brick pathways. Browse an array of California fine art at Trotter Galleries, dine on organic and sustainable dishes at Basil and sip on handcrafted wines at Shale Canyon Wines.
7. Court of the Fountains
Tucked behind Mission Street, between Ocean and 7th Avenues, is a serene escape with Carmel’s quintessential staples- food, wine and art. The focal point of this particular courtyard is the crystal blue fountain, of course. Enjoy a romantic meal at Anton and Michele or grab a box of gourmet treats from Lula’s Chocolates for the trip home.
Click here for a complete list of charming courtyards and secret passageways from Visit Carmel.
Guided Carmel Walks are also available which takes visitors through secret pathways, hidden courtyards and award-winning gardens with a dose of history and local culture.