Carmel-by-the-Sea Walking Tour

Carmel-by-the-Sea is best explored by foot, and guests will love the allure of treading on cobblestone streets, dining in secluded courtyards and happening upon the haunts of the infamous. Spend a day exploring the mysteries and treasures that lie within this one square mile of pure paradise. (Consider bringing Fido along - the majority of businesses and many restaurants in Carmel are dog-friendly - some even offer water bowls and complimentary treats for your pooch!)

Begin the day at the historic San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission on Mission Street just south of Ocean Avenue. Considered to be the most authentically restored Franciscan mission, its breathtaking courtyard and gardens are peaceful places to meditate or rest. Artifacts, clothing and vestments of the church are on display in the museum, and all entrance donations go towards the restoration of the mission.

Next, walk north on Mission Street to Ocean Avenue, where you'll encounter the newly remodeled Carmel Plaza, featuring more than 35 fine shops with names like Tiffany & Co., Anthropologie and Tommy Bahama. Lush landscaping, trickling fountains and village-style shopping contribute to the center's exquisite blend of retail, dining and entertainment.

As the lunch hour approaches, stroll out the north entrance of Carmel Plaza onto Ocean Avenue. From here, take your pick of the many cheerful Carmel eateries along Ocean Avenue and the surrounding streets. Carmel-by-the-Sea offers dozens of cozy and tucked-away eating and dining opportunities in the one square mile that makes up this beautiful area.

After lunch, head south on San Carlos to 6th Avenue and turn right. Walk one block to Dolores Street, where you'll find Carmel-by-the-Sea's oldest gallery - the Carmel Art Association. Located in a beautiful sculpture garden, this gallery was founded in 1927 and features the work of more than 120 professional local artists and is dedicated to presenting only the finest work for sale by artists living on the Monterey Peninsula.

As afternoon progresses, walk south on Dolores Avenue, crossing Ocean Avenue and its charming shops and restaurants, and continue south to 8th Avenue. While walking, take notice of the delightful homes and cottages lining either side of the street - this is Carmel's signature style. At 8th Avenue, turn right and walk about a quarter of a mile to Scenic Drive and then turn left, where you'll encounter the spectacular vistas of the Carmel coastline. Continue along Scenic Drive for about a mile and turn left at Ocean View Avenue. By now, you will have spotted the stone structures of Tor House and Hawk Tower, the family home of poet Robinson Jeffers.

In 1914, when they first saw the unspoiled beauty of the Carmel-Big Sur coast south of California's Monterey Peninsula, Robinson Jeffers and his wife, Una, knew they had found their "inevitable place." Over the next decade, he used granite boulders gathered from the rocky shore of Carmel Bay to build Tor House and Hawk Tower as a home and refuge for himself and his family. It was here that Jeffers wrote all of his major poetical works.

As dusk nears, depart this landmark and continue walking left (south) on Ocean View Avenue until it intersects Scenic Drive once again. At this juncture, turn left (east) and walk along the coastline until you reach Carmel River State Beach. On Carmel Bay, this mile-long beach features a bird sanctuary in a lagoon (just before the Carmel River empties into the sea) featuring a wide variety of waterfowl and song birds. Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach, is part of the park and is popular with scuba divers. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a vivid sunset!

If you're pressed for time and don't have a day to devote to a walking tour, take a Carmel Walks guided tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel Walks will allow you to discover the special charms of this community on a two-hour guided walking tour through secret pathways, hidden courtyards, award-winning gardens, and past enchanting fairytale cottages.

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