To speak of Carmel-by-the-Sea is to envision serpentine corridors of reaching oak trees, their gossamer beards of Spanish moss copper-gold in the light of setting suns. Quaint, oceanside cottages and gnarled black cypress. Crashing, rocky seascapes, enclosed in the mist of the breaking waves, and sandy, shallow beaches—where, in summer, they hold sandcastle building contests along the soft white stretches and budding surfers on foam longboards catch their first rollers just off shore.
Known for its rugged natural beauty, its plethora of small town eateries, shops, art galleries and boutiques, its littoral seclusion and the fantastic eccentricity of its architecture, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a quiet multitude of fun activities and serene getaways for people of all ages. Striking yet tranquil, it perfectly balances solitude and privacy with accessibility and charm. Navigable on foot, the town conjures an air of days-gone-by, in which ducking down a mistaken side street can lead to an unexpected evening of warmth and wonder in a nameless, three-seater sushi bar.
Initially settled by the Native American Esselen tribe and then the Ohlone, European explorers first came to Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1771, following the establishment of California’s inaugural stone mission by Father Junipero Serra. Through the efforts of groups like the Carmel Development Company, it underwent a period of growth in the early 1900s and a wealth of artists and craftsmen migrated to the area—lured by the unique aesthetic of Carmel’s shores—from nearby San Francisco. The success of this community in turn brought about media attention, which further drew more artists—a myriad legacy of painting, photography, sculpture, poetry and prose that continues to this day.