10 Amazing Things to Do in Carmel, California

In my previous post, Carmel, California: The Perfect Family Vacation, I described my love of this incredible town and how it is the perfect place to visit for your next family vacation. I listed several fabulous places to stay and where to dine. This post is all about the awesome things you can do with your family while in Carmel. Are you excited yet?

10 Amazing Things to Do in Carmel, California


1. Shopping

There are so many cute and quirky shops in Carmel and many are even dog friendly! We love The Barnyard, The Crossroads, and strolling around Carmel-by-the-Sea window shopping. If you need to hit up a department store, go to The Del Monte Shopping Center in Monterey.

2. The Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must stop on the family vacation itinerary. It is beautiful and well organized for the little ones. My favorite exhibit is visiting the Sea Otters. It seriously does not get any cuter. As a teacher, I also love the learning opportunities. You can watch live feed of the animals online!

3. Cannery Row

The historic area of Cannery Row features shopping, dining, and live music. It has great night life, but also family friendly adventures like the Mirror Maze and Lazer Challenge. You can also find movie theaters, golf, and pool all in close proximity.

4. Whale Watching

whale watching carmel

There are several whale watching tours if you want to take your family on a little boat ride. There is nothing like seeing a family of orcas in their natural habitat. Bring your camera and your sea sick preventative wristbands. I highly recommend getting one for each member of the family, as I spent what was supposedly an incredible tour heaving over the side of the boat. *affiliate link below

5. The Steinbeck Center

Nerd alert: I am the biggest John Steinbeck fan ever. His amazing tales are mostly set in the Carmel/Monterey vicinity for a reason. This area begs to be described in intricate detail and is the perfect backdrop for a classic American novel. You can visit The Steinbeck Center and learn more about this amazing author. A perfect stop for your teenagers who may be required to read The Grapes of Wrath!

6. Wine Tasting in Carmel Valley

Okay, wine tasting may not seem like it is the most family friendly experience, but it can be done with strategically planned stops for lunch and snacks. Chateau St. Julien is a winery build like a castle, perfect for your princess or prince to explore while you sample some delicious wines. Stop at Heller Wine and sign up for their wine club, where you can have amazing and affordable organic wines delivered right to your doorstep each quarter. Then, finish your tour at Boekenoogen Wines, where you can sip pinot noir on their outdoor patio while your baby enjoys her own bottle of goodness. Don’t judge, people.

wine tasting carmel valleywine-tasting-carmel-with-a-baby

7. Dog Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel is the best place to bring your fur baby. There are plenty of shops and restaurants that allow dogs. They even have dog bowls and treats lining the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea! You can allow your dog to go off-leash and play in the waves on Carmel Beach. This is also a great place to watch the sunset after a long day of shopping.

carmel by the sea with a dog

Shopping with my dog, Gracie

Carmel, California Dog Beach

Carmel Dog Beach

8. Golf

Carmel is one of the premier places to visit for golf enthusiasts. My husband wanted nothing more than to play Pebble Beach on his 35th birthday. While he played a round at this majestic seaside course, I took our dog to Cannery Row. If your spouse wants to spend a day golfing, I suggest giving your full blessing. It is a once in a lifetime experience. You can always swap watching the kids when you treat yourself to a spa day.

pebble beach golf course in Carmel, California

9. Visit the Carmel Mission San Carlos Borromeo

Visit a historic site and museum at the Carmel Mission San Carlos Borromeo. This is a great place to soak up some history and culture with your family. Some families like to embark on a family road trip and visit all of the old missions along the California coast.

10. The 17-Mile Drive

Spending the day driving up and down the 17-Mile Drive is probably my favorite thing to do in Carmel. It costs $10 to get in, but you can easily drive up and down the scenic route as many times as you want. We like to stop at each scenic lookout, as each stop has it’s own personality. I recommend grabbing your baby carrier  (*affiliate link) for checking out each location. The views are breathtaking and you might just catch a deer frolicking on the golf course or a baby seal playing in the waves.

My favorite place along the 17-Mile Drive is visiting the iconic Lone Cypress Tree. It has been standing majestically upon a rock in the ocean for over 200 years. It really is something special, an awe-inspiring view and the perfect way to cap off your trip to Carmel, California.

Wedding in Carmel

Our Wedding at the Lone Cypress Tree

lone cypress tree carmel

Pregnant with Our Miracle Baby

lone cypress tree family picture in Carmel, California

Our New Family Tradition: Pictures at the Lone Cypress Tree

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