Taking advantage of our backyard is harder than it sounds, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are so many places to see and never enough vacation time.
This stretch of Northern California coast is loaded with spots we should be getting outside and taking advantage of like Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Carmel Beach is located at the foot of Ocean Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea’s main drag. It’s an easy walk from just about everywhere in town. The city is a whopping one square mile in size, so you always feel close to the beach and its postcard worthy views. The beach boasts beautiful white sand, it’s dog-friendly, surfers love it here, even walkers are fans. Even on days when the weather isn’t perfect, the scenery doesn’t disappoint. Carmel Beach knows how to show off rain or shine.
Lined with shops and restaurants, it would be easy to stick to downtown’s Ocean Avenue, but Carmel-by-the-Sea has more than 40 courtyards and passageways. It’s a labyrinth that’s fun to wander and discover. Passageways and courtyards can boast shops, art galleries, wine tasting rooms, or simply blooming gardens. It’s nice sometimes not have a plan, but if you want guidance, a local gal named Gael Gallagher runs a spirited walking tour. Wear good shoes, because she covers a lot of ground.
If strolling is a little too slow for you, speed things up on an electric bike. Biking is a fairly new activity for Carmel-by-the Sea, and there’s only one bike shop in town. Mad Dogs & Englishman is just off Ocean Avenue. They don’t run tours; they rent e-bikes, and they’re happy to suggest where riders should go. They also offer riders Garmin GPS navigation systems with preloaded routes and step by step directions. But truthfully, sometimes getting lost is the fun part.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of those places that you can park your car when you arrive and forget about it. But you will want it once, to get to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Just three miles south, of Carmel-by-the-Sea, if you’ve only got an hour, it’s still worth the trip. If you’ve got all day – lucky you! There are long hikes, short hikes, guided walks, you name it. Marine life is plentiful. Odds are good you’ll see sea otters, sea lions, pelicans, and much more.
And a permit is required to wear high heels. (Anything more than two inches in height or with a base of less than one square inch.) Local police ignore the odd law that dates back to 1963. The intention at the time, was to defend the city from lawsuits stemming from irregular pavements caused by tree roots. But City Hall still issues high-heel permits. There’s no charge, you just have to stop by, show your identification, and sign some paperwork. It’s a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Dana’s trip was hosted by Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.