Carmel-by-the-sea, or commonly known as Carmel, was recently voted by Travel +Leisure magazine as one of the most romantic cities in the world and in 2013 was voted by Condé Nast Traveler as the United States’ 6th favorite city. To top both of those honors is the distinction of being rated one of the most dog friendly cities in the country. Of course the first two are subjective, but from firsthand knowledge, the validity of the dog friendly award is obvious before you park your car!
Food, Wine, and Shopping
Carmel is an enchanting, scenic and quaint village that neighbors Pebble Beach, most closely, but also is less than 10 miles from Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove and most of Monterey. As a family, we explored much of Carmel on foot. The streets are narrow and lined with unique boutiques, cafés, award winning restaurants and other small businesses. Mission Ranch Restaurant is one of Carmel's most popular restaurants (image below). There are also a few high end shops you will recognize such as Kate Spade New York and Tiffany & Co. You might even see a few celebrities or athletes that frequent the area for golf tournaments or weekend getaways.
Best Beach near Monterey
Ocean Avenue is one of the main streets through town and ends directly onto the beach. In my opinion, Carmel’s beach is the loveliest in the area as well as the warmest. Views of the golf courses on Pebble Beach and Point Lobos State Reserve flank the family and dog filled wide stretch of beach. It is a very popular place to picnic, surf and relax. Parking is limited and most times you can expect to walk from further in town.
Carmel offers so many outstanding options for food and wine. The restaurants and tasting rooms sprinkled throughout the town are regularly recognized for their innovative and locally sourced offerings. Be prepared however, you will pay for all of this quality goodness. We attended church in Carmel and walked to the town’s most beloved breakfast spot after our service one beautiful morning. For three of us the total was over $70.00 with nary a mimosa or bloody mary to be found on the bill! One order of toast (I have to say, it was excellent) rang up to be $7.00. Seriously, that’s just how it is around there.
Living in Carmel
You will find some military families living in this area because the Carmel Unified School District is excellent and quality of life is high. The rent is elevated as you can imagine for the small cottages that make up the neighborhoods. The commute to NPS/DLI or the Coast Guard Base from Carmel is often constricted because of two lane highways, fog, and tourist traffic. One final note on livability: Locals are wealthy and predominately a retirement age group. Local politics and the preservation of the city’s heritage dominate, and in general nightlife moves at a slow pace. Personally, we enjoyed living in PG and regularly made the trek to Carmel to utilize what the unique town had to offer.