Things to Do: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur

Monterey County offers iconic California experiences by highlighting everything that’s best about the Golden State. There are few places on earth as incredibly dynamic and picturesque, with its rugged coastline, beautiful beaches, inland vineyards, world class golf courses and quaint seaside villages. There are dozens of memorable activities, both indoor and out, which cater to every taste and age. It was difficult narrowing our favorites to only ten, but here are the absolutely “don’t miss” vacation experiences for a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea – Our Top Ten recommendations for enjoying our little slice of heaven!

monterey county top ten things to do

Monterey Bay Aquarium & Cannery Row
One of the world’s best aquariums is a “don’t miss” for the whole family! Follow this with a tour of Monterey’s Historic Cannery Row, where the once-bustling cannery’s buildings have been updated and showcase an eclectic combination of specialty shops, art galleries and restaurants.

monterey county top ten things to do

Monterey Movie Tours
See the scenic beauty and rich history of the Monterey Peninsula through the eyes of Hollywood in a tour that combines magnificent landscapes with blockbuster scenes from some 200 movies filmed across the Peninsula!

monterey county top ten things to do

Hike Pt. Lobos State Reserve
“The greatest meeting of land and water in the world”, famed landscape artist Francis McComa’s bold but justified claim for the area. All who come here agree that the beauty of this tree-clad headland is unequaled.

monterey county top ten things to do

Water Sports 
Catch a wave on a surfboard – check out Carmel beach – excellent surf for beginners as well as seasoned surfers. Or rent a stand up paddle board. Or simply go body surfing. It’s all about sun, sand and ocean breezes!

monterey county top ten things to do

Let the day go to the dogs!
An afternoon run on Carmel’s beautiful “leash-free” beach is sure to build up a thirst, to be quenched at “Yappy Hour” where you’ll mingle with locals and visitors alike at Cypress Inn’s pet-friendly “Terry’s Lounge”, co-owned by legendary screen star Doris Day. Mutt-tini, anyone?

monterey county top ten things to do

Wine Walk Carmel by-the-Sea
Leave the car in park and enjoy a superior wine-tasting experience on this self-paced, self-guided stroll to seven tasting rooms on the south side of Ocean Avenue. You’ll sample local estate-grown still and sparkling wines, and corkage will be waived when a purchased bottle is opened at participating restaurants.

monterey county top ten things to do

Golf
Shun the fog often found at coastal courses, and head a few minutes inland to Carmel Valley’s Quail Lodge Golf Course, offering a championship playing experience with spectacular scenery and sunny skies. Cypress Inn guests receive exclusive discounts on green’s fees. Inquire at the hotel.

monterey county top ten things to do

Shop ‘til you drop!
Explore the chic boutiques, antiques and galleries in the European-style seaside village of Carmel by-the-Sea. Carmel shopping is metropolitan in style, yet wholly unique in setting. An all-day experience and then some, as you amble through the stone-paved alleyways and curlicue roofed shops.

monterey county top ten things to do

Explore the rugged Central coastline with a drive to Big Sur
Lunch @ Nepenthe, located 800 feet above the pacific ocean. Then walk off a few of the calories on the followed by a walk on the purple sand at Pfeiffer St. Beach, featuring an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail.

monterey county top ten things to do

Adventures by the Sea Kayak Tour
Discover the kelp forest canopy of the Monterey Bay. Kayakers get an up close and personal look at this wonder of nature teeming with wildlife. You’ll be greeted by harbor seals, diving pelicans or rafts of otters playing in the kelp, and get a new perspective of our beautiful coast line as you peer back at it from sea.

Carmel’s Forest Lodge Guest Review

“A charming enclave of enchantingly unique individual havens in this 100 year old establishment. Beautifully appointed with an attention to detail, I stayed in two different rooms on this my first ( and certainly not my last ) stay. Evocative of a bygone era, the high wood beam ceilings and handcrafted architecture lent a coziness so rarely experienced in this post- modern world ( I love the split wood doors with real keys, not the electronic systems found everywhere else ). The grounds are extremely well laid out with gardens and sitting areas spread out over the beautifully landscaped property.” – Barbara, TripAdvisor