A Beach Day in Carmel-by-the-Sea

20 minutes south of Monterey lies the beautiful city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, of more often simply called, ‘Carmel’.

It’s an enchanting little town filled with winding roads, picturesque fairy tale cottages and one of the most spectacular coastlines in California. It’s also a rather wealthy village, and the adopted home of many famous artists.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

There are a few different routes between the two cities, but the most well-known is the scenic 17 Mile Drive. This stretch of road winds along the Monterey peninsula’s coast, passing multi-million dollar mansions and the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.

The views aren’t free, though, and we chose not to do the 17 Mile Drive because of the toll required (I thought I’d read it was somewhere around $30, but later found it was only $10, so I feel a little sad that we skipped it.) Instead we wound through Pacific Grove down Highway 68 until it met up with the 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) just outside Carmel.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

We made it into town right around 11:30 and parked the car for a quick run over to the main square, planning to pick up some sandwiches to take with us to the beach. Our meter expired in 20 minutes so we didn’t have a lot of time to spare, but we were able to walk up and down two of the main streets in the town’s center, Dolores and San Carlos, on our way.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A European Village

The town of Carmel is often referred to as a “European village”, and the city works hard to protect it’s character. The architecture of the homes and businesses range from Spanish-style adobes to German timber-framed buildings with thatched roofs and English country cottages. The buildings have no street addresses (all mail is delivered to a central post office) and there are no street lights to be found.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

Carmel is also known for another couple of random facts: Clint Eastwood was the town’s mayor from 1986 to 1988, and women are not allowed to wear heels over 2 inches without a permit (although, not a single person has been cited for violating this law).

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

The Tuck Box, a restaurant and gift shop, is one of the most photographed buildings in the village.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

We didn’t have much time, so we headed straight for Carmel Belle, a local favorite for quick food made with fresh ingredients, and ordered ourselves some sandwiches to go. I couldn’t resist throwing in this can of rosé; oh so classy and perfect for the beach!

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

To the Beach!

We drove down Ocean Avenue towards the main entrance of Carmel Beach at the corner of Scenic and Ocean (yah, really…that’s a place), and although knowing that parking would be almost non-existent, we drove south along Scenic Road hoping we’d get lucky.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

We weren’t, and so we parked one street up amidst the million-dollar homes and cut through to the beach via the ocean access near 10th Avenue (there’s also access at 9th Avenue, so parking a few blocks away from the beach along one of these two streets will probably be your best bet).

The views along Scenic Road overlooking the beach really are spectacular. I don’t know if it’s all the Cypress trees or the clear blue water, but this may be one of my very favorite beaches ever.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

We set up our sun shelter (careful to protect Evelyn’s delicate pale skin!) and ate our sandwiches and fruit as we listened to the ocean waves slowly rolling in. Although it was nice and sunny, it was also rather windy, so the shelter was welcomed by all of us.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

Even though we weren’t able to get to Pebble Beach, we had a nice view of the 10th hole in the distance.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

We really enjoyed watching all of the dogs play on the beach. One after another they’d come trotting by, playing catch or just going for a run. Carmel is an extremely dog-friendly town, with most hotels, shops and restaurants allowing them and some restaurants even offering “doggie menus”!

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

Although it was too cold to go in the ocean, Evelyn appreciated stretching her sea legs and having Grandma’s help walking in the warm sand.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

We didn’t stay much more than a couple of hours before it was time to make our way back to Monterey, so we packed up our tent and put the boys to work carrying all of our gear back up the stairs to our car.

A Beach Day in {Carmel-by-the-Sea}: How to spend a relaxing day in California's European village with kids | ournextadventure.co

Until next time, Carmel!

Read Next: Discovering the Sea at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

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The perfect beach day in Carmel, California starts with picnic fare from Carmel Belle. // Family Travel | Travel with Kids | California Road Trip

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