In February 2014, Travel + Leisure magazine ranked Carmel-by-the-Sea the third most romantic city in the world, behind only Venice and Paris. This probably was not a surprise to anyone who has been here. With its European storybook architecture, colorful gardens bursting from every nook, dramatic ocean views and pristine white sand beach, the town exudes charm. Combine Carmel’s physical beauty with its impressively lengthy list of attractions and activities, and the result is a perennial favorite destination that draws both new and repeat visitors.
The city’s quirks are part of its allure. Case in point: There are no addresses in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Not wanting their town to become too “citified,” founding fathers long ago decreed there would be no street numbers assigned to any building, and no mail delivery to homes and businesses here. Instead, everyone collects mail at the central post office. There are also no parking meters or streetlights. The city is made for walking, so choosing accommodations in the heart of town is best.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmel – Carmel Mission and Basilica – is an ideal place to start exploring Carmel-by-the-Sea and learn about the area’s history. Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1770 (the second of the 21 California missions), it was also Father Serra’s home, and he was buried here in 1784. The mission is a registered National Historic Landmark, and is still an active Catholic parish. A popular wedding site for visitors as well as locals, the Mission also offers several museums.
Artists have been drawn to Carmel for more than a century, and the approximately 100 galleries in town attest to a continued strong support for the arts. Performing arts are also a big draw. The Sunset Center, just a block from Coachman’s Inn, is Carmel’s cultural heart, welcoming world-class live performances including dance, music, comedy and theater.
Monterey County is noted for its vineyards, and many wineries have tasting rooms in downtown Carmel. Oenophiles can easily stroll from one tasting room to another, comparing premium wines. And dining here is always a pleasure. There are hundreds of excellent restaurants in Carmel, several of them world famous. Our innkeeper can help with recommendations and reservations, but when choosing where to eat, it really is hard to go wrong!