Western Trips

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Carmel By The Sea California / A Western Trip

carmel california beach
South portion of Carmel Beach
There are so many scenic, historic and fun places to visit in Monterey County California that they're almost too many to list. At least too many to list in one article.

One of my favorites has always been Carmel California. Carmel California often referred to as Carmel By The Sea California is located on the Monterey Peninsula just a few miles south of the city of Monterey.

Carmel is a very popular vacation destination and a easy drive for a weekend trip for San Francisco Bay Area residents.

Originally Settled By The Spaniards

Like most of coastal California south of Sonoma, the first Europeans to view what today is Carmel were the Spaniards. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed by the Carmel coast in 1542 but did not land.

The land which today is Carmel Valley was first explored by Friar Vizcaino in 1602. Eventually Carmel would receive a Franciscan Mission. The original mission in that immediate area was established in Monterey by Father Junipero Serra in 1770. This represented the Franciscans second mission in Alta California. The first was established in San Diego in 1769. Shortly after that the mission in Monterey was relocated a few miles south in Carmel. Father Serra decided that the mission would better serve the Indians of the area if it was separated from the Monterey Presidio.

monterey peninsula
A view along the Monterey Peninsula
Carmel derived it's name from the patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Carmel Mission named Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was in a strategic part of Alta California since Monterey served as the seat of government for the province until 1849.

The Americans Take Possession of California

After 1849, with the United States taking possession of what was Alta California and then with the onslaught of gold prospectors as part of the California Gold Rush, things changed dramatically in California. The focus of attention was certainly gold mining in the Sierra Nevada foothills and the establishment of statehood in 1850.

On a historical note regarding the Native Indians of the area , the Ohlones, their fate was unfortunately similar to what occurred when the Americans explored and settled westward during the early and mid 1800's. The Ohlones were not immunized against European diseases and as a result the tribe was almost wiped out from sickness. This same thing affected other native tribes which the Spaniards came in contact with in Alta California.

carmel by the sea
Carmel By The Sea
Carmel California Things to Do 

Once you visit Carmel, you'll want to go back again. 

We have enjoyed driving to Carmel California many times and we've found some great ways to enjoy the town and the scenery.

First of all, Carmel By The Sea has an excellent beach. Many times you can see surfers trying to ride a wave.

On the north end is the Pebble Beach Golf Course, home to the ATT Tournament each February.  I have attended that several times over the years and the celebrity players who golf in the Pro-Am make it even more fun. Pebble Beach could be the most scenic golf course on the west coast.

Two nearby historic attractions within a few miles of Carmel is the city of Monterey and the famous Big Sur coastline south of Carmel of Hwy 1. Also see our article on the Historic Custom House in Monterey.

Additional Sites to See In and Around Carmel

Another fun and inexpensive way to spend a few hours on the beach is to buy freshly made deli sandwiches at one of the town supermarkets or deli's and have a beach picnic. It's one of the best ways to spend a relaxing afternoon at Carmel. Also, walking the length of the beach is both quite scenic and a good way to get in some exercise.

pebble beach california
View of Pebble Beach
Another place you will want to visit in Carmel is the mission. Located on the southern part of the town, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo has alot of historical information about the very early days of Carmel and you'll be able to take great photos. The mission is still an operating place of worship.

An excellent short drive if you're spending a few days at a Carmel hotel is Carmel Valley Road. You catch this road on the south side of town just down the hill on Hwy 1. Carmel Valley Road winds eastward and after about thirteen miles you'll come to Carmel Valley Village where you can stop and enjoy the shops, restaurants and art galleries. There's also wine tasting and horse ranches along this road. You also can visit Garland Ranch Regional Park which, among other things, is great for hiking, horseback riding and biking.

carmel california
Carmel By The Sea shops
Yet, another great side trip while vacationing in Carmel is the "17 Mile Drive".

The 17 Mile Drive is a very scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. It's northern gate is in Pacific Grove and it's southern entrance is in Carmel. 

Much of it goes along the Pacific coastline and goes right past several popular golf courses including Pebble Beach. Inside this community, tourists and non-residents pay a toll to use the road. It's a great picture taking short drive and very well worth it.

Along the route you'll find many good places for a picnic. I think you'll agree that this drive is one of California's most scenic and you'll have many vistas to get great pictures. The only services open to the public in Pebble Beach such as gas stations, restrooms and restaurants are at the Inn at Spanish Bay and at the Lodge at Pebble Beach.

Carmel By The Sea  is well known as one of the most dog friendly towns in California. While strolling the streets of Carmel you may want to stop in to the Cypress Inn Hotel which has long been a favorite for people traveling with their canine friends. Chances are you'll see some rare breeds while visiting the Cypress Inn. It's a beautiful hotel in a beautiful town.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)