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Best things to do in Carmel

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Where in the world: USA  /  California  /  Monterey County  /  Carmel

Top 15 things to do in Carmel

1. Point Lobos

Appreciate the pristine natural landscape and thriving habitat of the California coast at Point Lobos. The nature reserve is home to hundreds of native animal and plant species on and off shore, and is an ideal location for hiking, diving, and bird watching. Enjoy panoramic views from the shore of the Pacific coast as you spot sea lions, harbor seals, and orcas, or hike through the lush vegetation on one of the reserve’s many foot trails for sightings of forest animals and local birds. On your way out, stop by the Whaler’s Cabin Museum to learn more about the history of whaling on the Monterey Peninsula.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $13 › Learn more about Point Lobos

2. 17-Mile Drive, Monterey

A scenic road winding its way over the Monterey Peninsula, 17-Mile Drive runs along the Pacific coastline and passes several well-known golf courses and private mansions. Serving as the main road of a gated community, this drive features several scenic overlooks where you can take in unobstructed views of the region's mountains and beaches. Once inside the community's gates, follow the posted signs and red lines painted on the pavement to stay on the route. For street views and a list of nearby attractions, check out the interactive map provided on the official website.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $15 › Learn more about 17-Mile Drive

3. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey

Located on the site of a former sardine cannery on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Monterey Bay Aquarium features an 8.5 m (28 ft) viewing tank that was the first in the world to grow giant kelp. The aquarium also holds thousands of plants and animals representing more than 600 different species. You can inspect the creatures of the kelp forest from several levels in the building. Visit the largest tank in the aquarium--with one of the biggest single-paned windows in the world--for a rare chance to observe a population of ocean sunfish in captivity. Other highlights include exhibits of stingrays, bluefin tuna, jellyfish, and sea otters, viewable from above and below the waterline.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $8 › Learn more about Monterey Bay Aquarium

4. Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey

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Embark on a 4-hour whale watching tour. All trips are narrated by a naturalist or marine biologist guide, who will also spend one on one time with guests while on deck. Professional photographers are often sent to capture the spectacular sights seen from on board and are available to offer tips for your own photography.
Suggested duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
Tours from $80 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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Best tours in Carmel

5. Scenic Road Walkway

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $8 › Learn more about Scenic Road Walkway

6. Carmel River State Beach

With two of Monterey's most pristine seaside locations, Carmel River State Beach offers white sands, blue ocean, and a classic panorama of the California coast. With more than 1.6 km (1 mi) of beachfront near the Carmel River and a significant stretch right at the edge of the city itself, the sand and surf are ideal for picnicking, walking, jogging, or simply relaxing. Both areas are vital parts of the rich peninsular ecosystem and teem with sea life, including whales, sea lions, kelp forests, and a wide variety of fish. Try kayaking to get an up-close view of the aquatic residents. Despite the beaches' tranquil appearance, the water's strong currents and steep drop-off from the shore can make swimming dangerous.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $8 › Learn more about Carmel River State Beach

8. 2.5-Hour Electric Bike Tour Along 17 Mile Drive of Coastal Monterey

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Legendary for it's beauty, 17-mile Drive meanders up and down the hills of Pebble Beach, past amazing mansions and it's famous golf courses.  We wind our way along the rugged coastline and through thick cypress groves, stopping at all the amazing viewpoints.  Our local guides share their knowledge of the area's unique ocean wildlife and iconic landmarks...the Lone Cypress, Point Pinos Lighthouse, Lover's Point, Asilomar Beach.23 mi. round trip, approx 3 hrs.  Min. height 4'10"; Max. weight 350lb.Alternating between separated bike lanes & road shared with vehicles (25 mph speed limit), we recommend "youth" riders be ages 16+ to ride solo.  Parents may book a bike for ages 13+ if their child is experienced enough to ride on a 25 mph road shared with vehicles.  The "child" rate is for children between 40 lb. & 120 lb. riding tandem with a parent on a RadWagon bike.
Suggested duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Tours from $75 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. Hearst Castle, San Simeon

It took William Randolph Hearst, the famed newspaper magnate, nearly three decades to complete Hearst Castle, one of the largest houses in the United States. Architect Julia Morgan envisioned the house with 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, tennis courts, movie theaters, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo. Part of a state park since 1958, the house Hearst called his "Enchanted Hill" now offers public tours, attracting visitors with its considerable collection of art and antiques. The estate's focal point is an outdoor swimming pool, rebuilt three times to suit its owner's tastes. The centerpiece of the pool, which offers expansive vistas of the mountains and the ocean, is the facade of an ancient Roman temple Hearst imported from Europe.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Tours from $13 › Learn more about Hearst Castle

10. Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard, Pacific Grove

Offering sprawling views of the ocean, Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard is an easy stroll that stretches south of Monterey Bay all the way to Lovers Point Park. This wide scenic path passes beaches and picnic tables, offering plenty of street parking along the way. Fill up a picnic basket, find a bench or a rock with a view, and gaze at the waves and harbor seals enjoying the ocean breeze. The trail is wheelchair accessible.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $40 › Learn more about Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard

11. Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, Monterey

A coastal trail with access to major local attractions, Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail offers miles of ocean views. The 28.9 km (18 mi) trail, which runs along the former tracks of the Southern Pacific railroad, is shared by bicyclists, rollerbladers, and walkers. You can rent bicycles and surreys, or quadricycles. Keep a lookout for wildlife along the way, such as otters, seals, sea lions, and birds. To do more than look, try some of the water activities right off the trail, such as kayaking and paddle-boating.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail

12. 3-Hour Monterey Bay Winter Whale-Watching Tour in California

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Monterey Bay is the premier destination for whale watching all year. Your daily 3-hour, whale watch trip is narrated by a marine biologist or naturalist who provides educational and interesting information about whales, dolphins, and a wide variety of marine wildlife. In addition to teaching you about the wildlife, your marine biologists and naturalists will provide information about the natural history of the local area and talk about conservation. 
Suggested duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
Tours from $65 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Del Mar Beach

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Del Mar Beach

14. Garrapata State Park

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $10 › Learn more about Garrapata State Park

15. Big Sur Self-Driving Audio Tour in California (Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway)

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Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone can listen together!Experience the iconic Big Sur road trip with a self-guided driving audio tour! As you drive, learn about the fairytale cottages of Carmel, the purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach, & the enormous elephant seals at San Simeon. Drive over Bixby Bridge, marvel at McWay Falls, & enjoy the rugged coastline along the Pacific Coast Highway / Route 1. Big Sur is the most scenic segment of the Pacific Coast Highway(a must-do road trip), which you can start in either Monterey or San Luis Obispo.Within 30 min, we'll send you two things: a unique password & an app. Download the app, enter a password, & download the tour. When you arrive, head over to the first stop. Stick to the route & speed limit for the best experience.No expiration — The tour comes with lifetime validity!This isn't an entrance ticket. Check covid rules & opening hours before your visit.
Suggested duration: 2 to 3 hours
Tours from $15 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

Best tours in Carmel