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California

Carmel & Monterey Holidays

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Kick back in Carmel & Monterey

A holiday to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea – or just ‘Carmel’ to the locals – takes you to the Monterey Peninsula, a central spot in California. This peninsula is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, and best admired on a windswept walk out to Point Pinos Lighthouse for panoramic views across the Pacific. Monterey sits on the northern side, with wide, sprawling sands that are partially sheltered by the headland. Carmel, meanwhile, is tucked into its own quiet cove, shielded by rocky Pescadero Point from the open ocean. The two are linked by the famous 17-Mile Drive – a coastal road that promises some of the best ocean views in the country.

Monterey started life as a fishing village – something that’s apparent from landmarks like Old Fisherman’s Wharf – but has developed into a thriving coastal town. Carmel, meanwhile, has the quaint feel of a village thanks to its wood-beam cottages and cypress- and flower-lined avenues. It’s known for its excellent art scene and life moves at a slower pace here. The town is also a stone’s throw from world-class Pebble Beach. Carmel holidays are also popular with golfers, as there are seven golf courses dotted across the peninsula.

Ten beaches can be found across the Monterey Peninsula. Many are golden and sandy, and make the ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming. The rocky beaches are worth a visit as their waters are home to local sea lions, sea birds and even passing minke, grey or humpback whales at certain times of year. If you want to stay active on your trip to Carmel and Monterey, Mission Trail Park and Laguna Grande Park have plenty of verdant trails just waiting to be explored. You might spot a deer or other local wildlife while you’re there.

Things to do

Food

Beaches

Best time to go

Things to do in Carmel & Monterey

Monterey, the larger of the two, has plenty for families to do. Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium or let the kids play at Dennis the Menace Playground, found at the western end of Del Monte Beach in El Estero Park. Cannery Row, to the west, is where you’ll get your culture fix. Take a tour to learn about the former fish cannery site’s history, or make your own way through the many souvenir shops, boutiques and restaurants. As you journey along the famous 17-Mile Drive between the towns, it’s worth stopping at the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. Hundreds of orange and black monarch butterflies stop here on their annual migration south – you’re most likely to spot them between October and February.

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Carmel’s chocolate-box streets are home to beautiful buildings, like the 18th-century Carmel Mission Basilica. Visit Downtown to find the best art galleries and painting classes, or tour the upmarket houses of the oceanfront Golden Rectangle area.

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Food and drink

Monterey Jack cheese was first made by Mexican-Franciscan friars on the peninsula in the 1700s and Carmel’s The Cheese Shop sells authentic wedges, alongside more than 200 varieties of cheese. It’s also one of the town’s finest wine shops and hosts regular tastings. Carmel’s Mission Ranch, owned by Clint Eastwood, is another local favourite that offers stunning views across the ocean and surrounding wilderness. Get there early to bag a table and listen to the live jazz ensemble as you dine.

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Monterey also has a fantastic wining and dining scene. Cannery Row and Old Fisherman’s Wharf have been converted into upmarket eateries. Sit down for lunch at Old Fisherman’s Grotto – an award-winning Monterey institution that’s also one of the best places to spot sea lions and coastal birds. Or stop at A Taste of Monterey, one of the town’s best wine shops, for a taste of central California’s wines.

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Beaches in Carmel & Monterey

There are plenty of beaches, both sandy and rocky, to explore across the Monterey Peninsula. If you’re staying close to Pacific Grove, San Carlos Beach’s golden sands are worth a visit. Sprawling Del Monte Beach goes on for kilometres and its sands, dunes and boardwalks are ripe for exploration all year round. You can follow the uninterrupted beach all the way up through Monterey Bay State Beach area for more than 22 kilometres, if you like.

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Carmel’s main beach stretches across the length of the town and is popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. Wander south and you’ll find Carmel River State Beach. It’s rocky and sandy in parts, so it’s mostly used for bird-watching or as the starting point of scuba diving trips through Carmel Bay Marine Conservation Area. Further down is Monastery Beach, easily reached via the Carmel Meadows Trail. It’s an unspoilt golden-sands haven where you’ll see incredible sunsets.

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Best time to visit Carmel & Monterey

Holidays to Carmel and Monterey are best planned for spring, between April and June. As the towns are by the coast, it can be chillier here than further inland – temperatures are generally in the mid-to-high teens and most days are sunny and dry. If you’re looking for hotter temperatures, visit in early Autumn. September days usually hover in the low twenties, and the ocean will be at its warmest – great if you’re a lover of watersports.

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Summer is the most popular time for locals to visit Monterey and Carmel, but the area is prone to coastal fogs and can be surprisingly chilly. So make sure you pack layers, no matter which time of year you visit. Winter is the quietest time in the towns, when you’re most likely to experience rain and temperatures in single figures. You’ll have the beaches all to yourself, though, so you can enjoy peak whale-watching season in peace.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Carmel & Monterey

Monterey, the larger of the two, has plenty for families to do. Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium or let the kids play at Dennis the Menace Playground, found at the western end of Del Monte Beach in El Estero Park. Cannery Row, to the west, is where you’ll get your culture fix. Take a tour to learn about the former fish cannery site’s history, or make your own way through the many souvenir shops, boutiques and restaurants. As you journey along the famous 17-Mile Drive between the towns, it’s worth stopping at the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. Hundreds of orange and black monarch butterflies stop here on their annual migration south – you’re most likely to spot them between October and February.

Show More
Show Less

Carmel’s chocolate-box streets are home to beautiful buildings, like the 18th-century Carmel Mission Basilica. Visit Downtown to find the best art galleries and painting classes, or tour the upmarket houses of the oceanfront Golden Rectangle area.

Show More
Show Less

Food

Food and drink

Monterey Jack cheese was first made by Mexican-Franciscan friars on the peninsula in the 1700s and Carmel’s The Cheese Shop sells authentic wedges, alongside more than 200 varieties of cheese. It’s also one of the town’s finest wine shops and hosts regular tastings. Carmel’s Mission Ranch, owned by Clint Eastwood, is another local favourite that offers stunning views across the ocean and surrounding wilderness. Get there early to bag a table and listen to the live jazz ensemble as you dine.

Show More
Show Less

Monterey also has a fantastic wining and dining scene. Cannery Row and Old Fisherman’s Wharf have been converted into upmarket eateries. Sit down for lunch at Old Fisherman’s Grotto – an award-winning Monterey institution that’s also one of the best places to spot sea lions and coastal birds. Or stop at A Taste of Monterey, one of the town’s best wine shops, for a taste of central California’s wines.

Show More
Show Less

Beaches

Beaches in Carmel & Monterey

There are plenty of beaches, both sandy and rocky, to explore across the Monterey Peninsula. If you’re staying close to Pacific Grove, San Carlos Beach’s golden sands are worth a visit. Sprawling Del Monte Beach goes on for kilometres and its sands, dunes and boardwalks are ripe for exploration all year round. You can follow the uninterrupted beach all the way up through Monterey Bay State Beach area for more than 22 kilometres, if you like.

Show More
Show Less

Carmel’s main beach stretches across the length of the town and is popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. Wander south and you’ll find Carmel River State Beach. It’s rocky and sandy in parts, so it’s mostly used for bird-watching or as the starting point of scuba diving trips through Carmel Bay Marine Conservation Area. Further down is Monastery Beach, easily reached via the Carmel Meadows Trail. It’s an unspoilt golden-sands haven where you’ll see incredible sunsets.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Carmel & Monterey

Holidays to Carmel and Monterey are best planned for spring, between April and June. As the towns are by the coast, it can be chillier here than further inland – temperatures are generally in the mid-to-high teens and most days are sunny and dry. If you’re looking for hotter temperatures, visit in early Autumn. September days usually hover in the low twenties, and the ocean will be at its warmest – great if you’re a lover of watersports.

Show More
Show Less

Summer is the most popular time for locals to visit Monterey and Carmel, but the area is prone to coastal fogs and can be surprisingly chilly. So make sure you pack layers, no matter which time of year you visit. Winter is the quietest time in the towns, when you’re most likely to experience rain and temperatures in single figures. You’ll have the beaches all to yourself, though, so you can enjoy peak whale-watching season in peace.

Show More
Show Less

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