Things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Our most recommended things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea

From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

1. From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

Discover the scenic coastline of California on a day trip by air-conditioned bus from San Francisco. Visit the Monterey Peninsula, Cannery Row, and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Travel scenic California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, famous for its spectacular ocean views, abundant wildlife, and historical past. Stop at Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck, where there are great shops and restaurants overlooking the Pacific. Next, travel through the famous 17-Mile Drive and see Pebble Beach Golf Course. Photo stops will be made along this gorgeous drive.  Your tour continues to Carmel by the sea where ample time is given to walk through this charming town dotted with lovely shops, and beautiful architecture.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

2. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

Soak up the beautiful coast of Northern California on a guided e-bike tour through Pebble Beach on the famous 17 Mile Drive. Ride on powerful eBikes which make climbing the region’s hills and inclines a breeze. Watch for deer, sea lions, and flocks of sea birds as we roll past famous golf courses with fairways overlooking the ocean. Feel the soft, white sands at the Spanish Bay Beach and smell the sagebrush mixed with the sea air. Snap a photo of China Rock, Bird Rock, and the Lone Cypress Weave through the Del Monte Forest of 300-year old Cypress trees, and take a minute to imagine yourself in one of the luxurious mansions along the path. Stop for a quick break at the Pebble Beach Lodge where you can enjoy coffee and gelato while gazing over Carmel Bay and Point Lobos. Your local guides will share their knowledge of the area’s unique ocean wildlife and iconic landmarks throughout the tour.

California Highlights Express: 3-Day Tour from Los Angeles

3. California Highlights Express: 3-Day Tour from Los Angeles

Discover the most iconic highlights of California, as well as some lesser-known gems, on this 3-day tour from Los Angeles. Drive the renowned 17 Mile Drive, explore Santa Barbara, and visit Yosemite Valley National Park or Hearst Castle. Enjoy 2 nights of accommodation and a bay cruise in San Fransisco included. Day 1: Los Angeles – Santa Barbara – 17 Mile Drive – Carmel Summer RouteDepart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission and learn how these religious outposts were key in the development of the entire region. Continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse in the local shops. See the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Visit the town of Carmel, home to the actor Clint Eastwood. Enjoy some free time to stroll in town before departing to reach your hotel at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Winter RouteDepart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Stop at the heart of downtown at the “state street promenade” and stroll through the exclusive shops and restaurants. Continue to Santa Barbara beaches and Stearns wharf to “walk on the water” and enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean. Finish your visit at the Spanish Mission Santa Barbara and continue to Solvang, “the Danish capital of America” a quaint Danish community at the heart of California. After your lunch break, head north through Silicon Valley before departing to reach your hotel at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Day 2: San Fransisco – Bay Cruise – Golden Gate Bridge – ChinatownSummer RouteStart your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. Enjoy great views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Next, return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Stay overnight in Modesto. Winter RouteStart your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. Enjoy great views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz island. Then return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Stay overnight at the Springhill Suites Oakland Airport. Day 3: San Fransisco – Yosemite – Los Angeles Summer RouteHead east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and Half Dome. See the highest waterfalls in North America, Yosemite Falls. Then head back to Los Angeles in the evening. Winter RouteStart the day with a visit to Monterey including the wharf and Cannery Row. Continue your tour of the beautiful California Coast with a visit to the town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Then head south to the world-famous Route #1 where you'll see the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Then drive back to return to Los Angeles.

San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

4. San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

Explore the Big Sur and Monterey areas of California at your own pace, and avoid the hassle of organized bus tours. Traveling by private car, enjoy the comfort of seeing the places you want to see without worrying about your departure or arrival time. Learn more about the famous landmarks with a reliable service, offering maximum security and, most of all, the best level of hospitality in the industry. Following a pick-up from your accommodation in San Francisco (pick-ups in other cities in the Bay Area are available on arrangement), get recommendations on the best places to stop to take pictures or explore further; you decide where you want to go. Take a scenic drive from San Francisco to Carmel and Big Sur via State Route 1, the north-south highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. Travel the forested road of 17-Mile Drive. Discover the Mission District and Monterey Bay Aquarium. See all the sights of Fisherman's Wharf. Drive down to the Big Sur Bixby Creek Bridge, and marvel at the flora and fauna of Poit Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel before your return to San Francisco.

San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

5. San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

Begin your tour by traveling south on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, California Highway 1. Head to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. At your first rest stop in Davenport, you will have a chance to take a selfie with the whole Pacific as your backdrop.  At Monterey, you will have 2 hours on your own to explore. You can visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, rent a kayak or paddleboard, hike along the coast, or take a bike to roam. You can also stroll among the quaint boutiques and art shops along the historic Cannery Row. Grab a seafood lunch at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  Enjoy another eyeful of Pacific beauty along the scenic 17-Mile Drive through Del Monte Forest and take photographs of the hardy Lone Cyprus Tree. This famous road winds its way by magnificent homes and the spectacular coastline, between the greens and tees of world famous golf courses, and among the last remaining forest of a rare species of the Monterey Cypress.  Your scenic drive finishes at Pebble Beach Village. Upon arrival in the enchanted town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you can explore the boutique shops on Ocean Avenue and be dazzled by the white sandy beach. If there is time, you can visit the historic Carmel Mission. Then, it will be time to head back to San Francisco. 

Monterey/Carmel: Wine Country Tour

6. Monterey/Carmel: Wine Country Tour

Take a wine tour of California's Monterey County, one of the largest premium grape producers in the state. Learn about local wine production and taste sample some wines. Get picked up from your hotel and listen to some interesting commentary on your way out to the vineyards. Admire the beautiful Californian landscape as you tour a local winery. Let your guide teach you about Monterey and its history of wine production. Enter the tasting room for your chance to try 2 or 3 different wines. Enjoy a convenient drop-off at your accommodations after the tour.

Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

7. Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

Travel along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. This full-day tour takes you along California’s stunning coast to experience the beauty of Highway 1. When you arrive at the Monterey peninsula, follow the 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach to visit the Lone Cypress, where your guide will stop for you to take photos of the rugged, beautiful coast. As your tour continues, visit Monterey city where you can walk down Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (for an additional cost). From Monterey, your tour continues to the coastal town Pacific Grove, which features charming Victorian-era buildings; and the artsy Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you will visit the historic mission established in 1770. On the way back to San Francisco, drive through Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the United States; and, as you circle round the north end of San Francisco, catch a glimpse of the Seal Rocks in the distance.

5-Day Wild West Tour From Los Angeles

8. 5-Day Wild West Tour From Los Angeles

Day 1: LOS ANGELES – SANTA BARBARA – ROUTE 1/17 MILE DRIVE – CARMEL Summer Route: Depart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission, then continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse the local shops. After, see the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Visit the town of Carmel home and enjoy some free time to stroll in town before departing to reach your hotel overnight at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Winter Route: Depart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Start your tour and stop at the heart of downtown at the “state street promenade.” Stroll through the exclusive shops and restaurants in this beautiful part of town. Continue to Santa Barbara beaches and Stearns Wharf and finish your visit at the Spanish Mission Santa Barbara. From the mission, continue to Solvang, “the Danish capital of America.” Enjoy the Danish-style architecture while browsing in the local shops and restaurants. Then head north through Silicon Valley before departing to reach your hotel at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Day 2: SAN FRANCISCO – BAY CRUISE – GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – CHINATOWN Start your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. Marvel at views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, and Chinatown. Summer Route Overnight: Modesto – Modesto Hotel Winter Route Overnight: San Francisco - Springhill Suites Oakland Airport Day 3 SAN FRANCISCO – YOSEMITE Summer Route: Head east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and Half Dome. After a day in the park, head down to Stevenson Ranch for the evening. Winter Route: Start the day with a visit to Monterey and see the wharf and Cannery Row. Continue your tour of the beautiful California Coast with a visit to the town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Enjoy some free time to stroll in town and enjoy the beautiful boutiques and galleries. Head south to the world-famous Route #1 and spend your evening at Stevenson Ranch. Day 4: STEVENSON RANCH – LAS VEGAS Summer & Winter Route: Arrive in Las Vegas and take a tour of the strip to see some of the truly amazing hotels and fantasies that are built in the middle of the desert, such as Caesar’s Palace, Mirage, Luxor, Paris, Mandalay Bay, New York New York, Treasure Island and more. Stay overnight at Harrah’s Hotel. Day 5: LAS VEGAS – HOOVER DAM – LOS ANGELES Summer & Winter Route: After a leisurely breakfast, leave Las Vegas and make your way to the Hoover Dam. Then head west and cross back into California. Your tour ends back in Los Angeles.

From Los Angeles: 7-Day Golden Experience Tour

9. From Los Angeles: 7-Day Golden Experience Tour

Day 1: LOS ANGELES – SANTA BARBARA – 17 MILE DRIVE – CARMEL Depart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission and continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse in the local shops. Head north to the world-famous Route #1 where you'll get to see the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Visit the town of Carmel and enjoy some free time to stroll in town before departing to reach your hotel at the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Day 2: SAN FRANCISCO – BAY CRUISE – GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – CHINATOWN Start your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. See great views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island on your way to Sausalito. Return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Stay overnight in Modesto. Day 3: MODESTO – YOSEMITE Summer Route: Head east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and Half Dome. After a beautiful day in the park, head to Stevenson Ranch and stay the night at the Comfort Inn and Suites Stevenson Ranch. Day 4: STEVENSON RANCH – LAS VEGAS Head east through the desert and Death Valley to arrive at the gambling capital of the world: Las Vegas. Stop for lunch at the outlet mall in Barstow and in the evening, take a tour of the strip to see some amazing hotels such as Caesar’s Palace, Luxor, Mirage, Paris, Venetian, Bellagio, New York New York, Treasure Island, and more. Stay overnight at the Harrah’s Hotel. Day 5: LAS VEGAS – GRAND CANYON – PAGE Start the day traveling through the desert and through the Navajo Indian reservation before you arrive at the south bank of the Grand Canyon. After lunch, continue along the canyon east stopping at some of the Indian market places to browse the handmade arts and crafts. Then, head to the Page and Lake Powell area for the evening where you will stay at the Quality Inn View of Lake Powell. Day 6: ANTELOPE CANYON – BRYCE CANYON Tour the lower Antelope Canyon and visit the spectacular dunes created by the wind, water, and sand. Then head west to Bryce Canyon, home to the most amazing natural sculptures in the world. Experience the unique changing of the colors during the sunset from one of the vista points in the park (this may change due to changing sunset times). After the visit, head towards the town of Kanab, where you will stay overnight at the Days Inn Kanab. On certain departures, the tour will continue to Cedar City for the night. Day 7: ZION PARK – LAS VEGAS Head into Zion Park and enjoy a short walking trail along the Virgin River that runs through the park. Arrive in Las Vegas and head towards Los Angeles for a late night.

Big Sur California: Pacific Coast Highway Self-Drive Tour

10. Big Sur California: Pacific Coast Highway Self-Drive Tour

Set off on an adventure along the California coastline, between Monterey and Pismo Beach. Explore at your own pace, with this self-guided experience. Simply download the app and begin your road trip. Stop to discover monuments and towns along the route, spending as much time as you like at each location. The app tracks your route and the audio guide plays automatically. Listen to stories and advice at every point of interest. Admire the landscapes of Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Canyon, McWay Falls, and Ragged Point. Drive over the famous Bixby Bridge and spot seals at San Simeon. Enjoy the freedom to skip ahead, take it slow, and snap as many photos as you like.

Frequently asked questions about Carmel-by-the-Sea

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What people are saying about Carmel-by-the-Sea

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 273 reviews

I would highly recommend this tour. Our group of friends did the 3 hour wine tour and it was excellent. Evan picked us up at our hotel in Carmel and we visited a vineyard and two winery tasting rooms. Evan knows the area well and pointed out many interesting details as we drove. His agricultural knowledge informed us and his easy and kind personality contributed to a fun filled adventure. Even if you have been to Carmel often you will likely learn something new and see the area in a different way.

For those, like us, who want to be amazed in a short time, this tour is ideal. I shared these moments with my 10-year-old daughter…unforgettable… The roads are long, of course, but the discovery of all these mythical places steeped in history offers us magical moments. The bus is air-conditioned, comfortable. The guides are friendly.. a small flat on the breakfasts of certain hotels which do not offer much choice.

This tour is great, and allows you to visit to great cities on the Coast without renting a car and have to park. The guide was super funny, available, and nice. The tour is very well organized and you watch the best panoramas ever, comfortably sitting in a great bus and learning new things about California. We totally recommend it.

The GPS functionality worked very well and the tour was quite interesting. I wish the additional points of interest feature worked without Wi-Fi or service and was more imbedded into the tour. Definitely worth the money!

Roman is hands down one of the best tour guides I have ever toured with! We will be back to do a tour of Yosemite with him.