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Being a unique city along the picturesque coast of Northern California, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a romantic and inspiring place, bustling with activity, which draws travelers from around the globe. Step into another world of the city’s cobbled sidewalks, quaint cottages, breath-taking seascapes, tucked away shops and incredible art galleries.

Carmel By The Sea Pictures

Even the drive to Carmel along Big Sur Highway 1 is incredible, if not a bit challenging with its hairpin turns. But it is worth taking, as Carmel-by-the-Sea will reward you with some of the world's finest scenery, historic sites, art galleries, restaurants, and boutique shops. On foot, by car, or both, there's no lack of things to do.

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With nearly 2,000 hotel rooms, several luxury golf resorts and more than 30 Bed and Breakfast Inns, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a well known destination for a much desired and admired vacation. Enjoying scenic beauty and unique weather of the California Coast, it is also considered one of the world's most romantic places, as well. Many couples come to Carmel to get married. Here the air, the stunningly beautiful scenery and sense of time and history, you feel, when walking along cobblestone walkways past homes known by names rather than addresses, and beaches so perfectly framed by nature make you feel you are in Paradise.

Carmel By The Sea Photos

When you arrive in Carmel, you are surrounded by art: from cobblestone walkways and colorful flower boxes framed by pines to houses adorned with paintings such as hearts and birds. The artistic flavor of the city survives in more than 100 galleries that line the immaculate streets. The number of galleries per capita currently averages more than one for every 100 residents.

Carmel By The Sea Photo

Just imagine a community of 5,000 supporting over 50 art gallery businesses! That's one gallery per 100 people. That's almost unheard of but is sustainable, due to patrons that include celebrity residents and upscale tourists shopping for works not seen elsewhere. As a rule, visitors who come to Carmel are often repeat customers with money to spend on art.

Carmel By The Sea House For Rent

Stop by the nation's second oldest artist cooperative, Carmel Art Association, located on Dolores between 5th and 6th Streets. Shows change monthly in a gallery which features over 120 artists. Some honored association members have included Percy Gray, Armin Hansen, William Ritschel, Paul Dougherty, Arthur Hill Gilbert, Howard E. Smith and the list goes on and on. On sale at the gallery are exhibit catalogues, some which are now collector's items. Here original works which include paintings and sculptures in metal, glass and wood are sold.

Carmel By The Sea  Northern California Pics

Visit the Carmel Mission, located on Rio Road off Highway 1. Built in 1771, it is officially called Basilica of Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmel and is one of two basilicas on the West Coast. It is honored because of historic importance and the work of Father Serra. Fountains, statues, flowers and Father Junipero Serra's burial place are here. Tour groups make regular stops at the mission and its grounds known for its scenic beauty colorful photo opportunities.

Carmel By The Sea Nature

Carmel-by-the Sea is famous for its beautiful beaches. Carmel City Beach is one of several beaches in Carmel and the place where many wedding proposals have been made. Carmel City Beach is one of the region's most photographed beaches, seen in photographs around the globe, and painted by artists. This soft, pale, sand beach is perfect for a romantic stroll, beachcombing, or surfing. It is a popular site for relaxing, strolling and evening socializing, especially with the high school and college crowd, as well as tourists. It is also the place where annual sand castle competition is held.

Northern California Carmel By The Sea Pictures

The other extremely popular beach is Carmel River State Beach which is popular for hiking, kayaking and sunbathing during the summer months. Carmel River State Beach is known for its lagoon. The brackish water in the lagoon and marsh which is a combination of fresh water and salty seawater, serves as the lifeblood for the very productive plant community of the marsh. The pickle-wee, salt grass and reeds provide food and shelter for a variety of animals ranging in size from tiny aquatic organisms to large waterfowl. The Carmel River also hosts the southernmost major steelhead trout run in North America, with about 2000 adult fish swimming up the river from the ocean to spawn each year.

Carmel By The Sea Beachfront

On Carmel Bay, the mile-long beach features a bird sanctuary in a lagoon, just before the Carmel River empties into the sea, featuring a wide array of waterfowl and song birds. Monastery Beach, or San Jose Creek Beach, is popular among scuba divers. Be careful, as ocean swimming and wading are extremely dangerous here.

Northern California Carmel By The Sea Photos

For an unforgettable lunch, dinner or drink visit the former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood’s nearby Mission Ranch and enjoy the majestic mountain and ocean views. Continue along the “Clint Eastwood Trail” with a visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea’s City Hall, originally built in 1921 as All Saints Church. It was here that Mayor Eastwood served his term. Then people-watch at famed Hog’s Breath Inn, the popular restaurant and bar once owned by Clint Eastwood where you can enjoy a snack on the outdoor patio.

Explore Carmel’s shopping Mecca, Carmel Plaza, where four-star shops await, such as Anthropologie, Wilkes-Bashford, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Company. Let Carmel Plaza’s White-Glove Concierge Center will make your visit here a true celebration.

Carmel By the Sea Pics

Relax at Devendorf Park, a picnic-perfect spot for a gourmet basket feast from the local markets, Bruno’s or Nielsen’s.

If you are a sweet tooth, treat yourself to a visit to the Cottage of Sweets, which is voted America’s No. 1 candy shop in a 2009 USA Today poll. Its amazing roof with curlicues and storybook architecture make this a quintessentially sweet Carmel spot.

Northern California Carmel By The Sea Pics

More than just an ocean lover's paradise, Carmel is also heaven for the wine epicurean. A host of local wineries, wine merchants, restaurants, and gourmet markets offer superior wines and champagnes from around the corner and around the world for you to sample a cornucopia of vineyard riches. For instance, Bubbly Fish offers more than 24 champagnes and wines from across the globe as well as small appetizer plates, and the Bountiful Basket provides a vast array of boutique wines, specialty foods, and olive oils and vinegars. La Bicyclette serves rustic European family-style cuisine along with tastings of cheese, pate, and local wines whereas Galante Vineyards is known for producing ultra-premium, 100% estate-grown wines since 1994. And this is just the beginning of the list which goes on and on.

Northern California Carmel By The Sea Photo

One of the special places to stay in Carmel-by-the Sea, is Carmel Valley Ranch. The welcoming gates of the vast, 1700-acre estate encompass a world of extraordinary natural beauty. Verdant fairways, majestic oaks and brilliant flowers are set against the rugged hills of the Monterey Peninsula, just minutes East of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Northern California Carmel By the Sea

Carmel Valley Ranch is so restful and scenic, that you will feel a strong urge to return to the hilltop lodge, beautiful suites and natural beauty with butterflies, blue jays, turkey, deer and hummingbirds that surround you here.

Northern California Carmel By The Sea Hotel

While golf is considered to be the principal attraction at Carmel Valley Ranch, the Resort is also appealing to couples who seek privacy and such amenities as balcony decks, two room suites and corner room locations with an outdoor deck jacuzzi. In room massages, horseback riding, tennis courts and even a child's play center are a few of the resort amenities offered.

Carmel By The Sea Northern California Photo

Stop by the Chateau Julien winery on your way to the Resort and pick out a couple of bottles of their current or reserve stock. There is a famous wood sculptor, Paul Wilson, just off the premises who sells unique items, and a 5 minute drive will take you to the Carmel Valley Barnyard Shopping Plaza. Add another 10 minutes and you will appear at the mission or in the heart of action in busy downtown Carmel shopping district.