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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

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Carmel, CA

Picturesque street in Carmel, CA

Situated on the craggy shore of the Pacific Ocean and rated as one of the top ten destination spots in the United States by Conde Nast Traveler, Carmel, California is a one-of-a-kind enchanted village. Standing on the rocky cliffs overlooking the crashing waves, one might imagine themselves on the moors in “Wuthering Heights” or the white cliffs of Dover. But it is not just the magnificent vistas and cool ocean breezes that set this town apart from the rest. With its renowned artistic community, Bohemian lifestyle, award-winning restaurants and family lodging, and one of the finest stretches of white-sand beaches on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the Sea has something for everyone. Set among a string of other gems like Big Sur, Salinas and Monterey, Carmel is the crowning jewel of the Northern California coast.

Carmel, whose former Mayor Clint Eastwood made it his mission to preserve, is internationally recognized as one of the most pristine and inviting towns in the United States. It is no surprise that Carmel has always been a haven for celebrities and high society, even before Dirty Harry took over. Today, the idyllic, yet exciting town has adhered to its historical integrity (there are no streetlights or sidewalks or fast food developments). Whether you come to wander through the countless galleries displaying local artist’ work, the theatrical performances, the wine tastings in the surrounding vineyards, golf at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, enjoy the abundance of family friendly outings and activities, or just to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Carmel Valley and the Monterey Peninsula, there is nothing here that won’t “make your day.”

A TOWN WITH A MISSION

Rolling hills against the Pacific Ocean.

Originally inhabited by the Ohlone Indians, Carmel was founded by attorney James Devendorf in the late 1800s and after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 became a mecca for famous artists and writers like Ansel Adams, Upton Sinclair and Jack London. One of the main Carmel attractions is the San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Caremelo Mission – known as simply the Carmel Mission – built in 1771 by Spanish missionaries and became the headquarters for the 21 missions built in Alta California. Considered one of the most beautiful of the Spanish colonial missions, its bell tower was featured in the climatic scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

The other impressive mission in Carmel is to preserve the simplicity and tradition of the town. Spearheaded by Mayor Eastwood, Carmel residents are determined to resist the invasion of big businesses and maintain the quaint and charming small-town atmosphere.

The Carmel Heritage Society offers walking tours through the village on the first Saturday of every month that highlight the historic legacy of the community with stories of its ancestors and places like the First Murphy House, built in 1902 by Michael Murphy one of Carmel’s first and most influential architects.

MASTER OF THE ARTS

An outdoor art exhibit

Hundreds of artists from all over the world flock to Carmel in an effort to capture the legendary and ”magical” light of the rugged coastline, misty skies and blazing sunsets. With over 90 galleries in town, there is no lack of artists to suit anyone’s visual palette. The late landscape artist Francis McComas called Carmel “the greatest meeting of land and sea,” and hundreds of artists have painted their own versions of this unique reunion of nature.

For the past 14 years Carmel has held its annual Carmel Arts Festival in May, which exhibits local artists’ works in their Plein Air outdoor shows, Sculpture in the Park, Sculpture Withindoors and Kids Day.

PERFORMING ARTS

The Forest Theater performing arts center

The arts in Carmel are not restricted to brushes and canvas. Carmel is home to the restored Sunset Center that has been hosting theatrical and musical performances for over 70 years, the Golden Bough Theater, one of the oldest reparatory theater companies in California and the Forest Theater, a natural amphitheater, almost a century old that has live performances in an outdoor venue in the heart of downtown Carmel. The theater is the oldest outdoor theater west of the Rockies, founded in 1910, and treats audiences to Broadway shows, high school musicals and film festivals year-round.

In 1926, two local women established the Carmel Music Society, which is now in its 81st season of presenting virtuoso classical concerts at the Sunset Center and the Carmel All Saints Church. The society prides itself on bringing the finest classical talent repertoire to the area as well as encouraging young local artists in pursuing their musical dreams. Even Clint Eastwood, an accomplished classical pianist has been, known to make a guest appearance from time to time.

FAMILY FUN

Marvel over the creativity the sheer magnitude of the sculptures at the Annual Sand Castle Contest at Carmel Beach, a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to enjoy the beach in a fun, festive atmosphere. Building begins at 8:00am with judging at noon and awards at 2pm. Stall all day if you can to experience the excitement and energy.

The acclaimed Outdoor Forest Theatre also hosts The Films in the Forest Festival, another family favorite, showing movies beginning in May and running through July. Bring the whole family, dress warmly, and pack a picnic to enjoy while watching a movie under the stars.

The world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium is only a short drive from Carmel and is a not-to-be-missed family outing. Discover the Splash Zone where children can dive into a kelp forest, explore the coral reef, and meet the rockfish, sharks, and penguins who live there. Children six and older will jump at the chance to experience a Behind the Scenes Tour, during which they can get behind the scenes of the exhibits, interact with the staff, and learn interesting facts and details about the daily life of the Aquarium. Everyday Aquarium activities include otter and jelly fish shows, Mysteries of the Deep, and animal feedings, including otters, penguins, and animals of the kelp forest. After a day at the Aquarium, children will clamor for an outing on the water and whale watching is just the opportunity. The Monterey Bay’s deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters are home to dolphins, whale dolphins, and humpback whales. The area is also sanctuary for leatherback sea turtles, seabirds, sharks, and rays. Set sail aboard a vessel and ride the waters in search of marine mammals. Bring your binoculars and cameras, this’ll be a day to remember as magical moments and fantastic photo opportunities splash before your eyes.

The Carmel Mission

The Carmel Mission is a serene, historic family outing brimming with beauty and culture. Inside the Mora Chapel Museum, visitors will see the massive memorial tomb dedicated to the founder of the Mission, Father Junipero Serra, and during a walk through the Sir Harry Downie Museum visitors will learn an overview of the major periods of the Mission’s history. Take time to wander in the Mora Chapel Gallery where oil paintings are on display along with pieces from museums, galleries, and private collections across California. Docent-led tours as well as self-guided tours are available at the Mission, but do keep in mind that the Carmel Mission is an active parish with Sunday services and special events, such as weddings, in the Basilica. Built from stone unlike the adobe churches that were common at the time, the Carmel Mission Church is modeled after the stone houses of worship in Mexico and Spain. The simplistic interior defies the Basilica’s grandest days when large-scaled altarpieces lined the walls, and the original stone ceiling was removed years after being built for fear that it might fall during an earthquake. The majestic beauty of the Mission and its grounds will leave most any visitor feeling inspired and in awe.

Seaside fun in the sun is always a family favorite while on vacation in Carmel. Numerous beaches including Carmel River Beach, Carmel Beach (Del Mar Beach), Monastery Beach, and Point Lobos State Reserve are ideal spots for exploring tide pools, and beach fires can be built south of 10th Street on the shores of Carmel Beach, so pack up dessert and a thermos full of hot cocoa (and one with Irish Coffee for the adults!) and enjoy the magical sunset on the water’s edge. If you forgot to pack your kite, purchase one from a local shop and head to the beach where you can let your kite twist and turn, dive and jump high in the sky. Carmel and Pacific Grove are famous of the beauty and variety of kites and colors sailing on the winds. Grab your board and hustle to beach to surf the tides or if you prefer surfing as a spectator sport, catch the Surf-About Contest in Carmel in June. There’s fun for everyone at the seashore in Carmel.

SHOP, DROP AND DINE

Carmel has many specialty shops and restaurants.

Amidst the dozens of galleries and family friendly lodging and homes are upscale boutiques, cafes and restaurants that can keep you busy. The boutiques offer an eclectic array of goods from handmade linens and antiques to one-of-a kind pottery and home furnishings. Carmel also has a reputation for some of the best spas in the area, offering facials and body treatments with products from the sea, all forms of massage and beauty treatments to prepare for your night out on the town.

Dining in Carmel is truly an event – more of a pleasure than a necessity - -and the restaurants are the backbone of this one-mile long European-style village. Because of its proximity to the Monterey Bay and the Salinas Valley, Carmel restaurants have access to some of California’s finest produce and seafood. As a result, Carmel’s culinary reputation has been lauded as one of the best in the country. Combining local cuisine with international and contemporary fare, the town boasts a plethora of unique eating establishments ranging from funky, casual seaside shacks to four-star dining elegance.

SEA-NIC DRIVES

Although Carmel has so much to offer, a drive to the surrounding coastal towns is a must. With its year-round moderate climate and little rainfall (about 20 days a year) any day is a great day to hit the road. There is no scenery more awe-inspiring and literally breathtaking than what you will see along the famous 17 Mile Drive between Pacific Grove and Monterey. Once in Monterey you can eat and shop along Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck in his novel of the same name. Eight miles inland from Monterey is the city of Salinas with its famed golf courses, artichoke fields and annual California Internationals Air Show. Back to the coast and a few miles south you’ll come to Big Sur, a fantastic family getaway with trails for hiking, biking, and exploring.

Only a few miles outside of Carmel is the Carmel Valley. Nestled in the Santa Lucia mountain range, the Carmel Valley, with its sunny and warm climate is home to one of the finest wine regions in the country. The valley is dotted with vineyards and wineries producing delicious blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. Chateau Julien is exceptional, with its wine tasting room housed in a French-style chateau. Just make sure you have a designated driver for the ride home!

The magnificent Pacif Ocean long the rugged Carmel coast

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Featured Property

Blue Sky Lodge
Carmel Valley, CA
United States

Here at Blue Sky Lodge our specialty is providing you with modern, comfortable accommodations in a restful and relaxing atmosphere.

Contact Information

10 Flight Road
P.O. Box 233
Carmel Valley, California
United States
831-659-2256
Toll Free Reservations: 800-733-2160
Fax:831-659-1632
General Manager:Roger Gardner
Email:bslrg@redshift.com
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