The town was given its name by a Carmelite friar after his patron saint Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Welcome to Carmel

A seaside paradise and haven for artists

The Monterey Peninsula city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, or simply “Carmel,” is a historic and picturesque area known for its seaside homes and artistic culture. Tourists flock here for the charming storybook setting, while residents love living here for its luxurious homes and fun things to do.

Carmel is a city that is rich in Native American and Spanish history. While Native Americans inhabited the area for centuries, Spanish explorers began arriving in the 16th century. The town was given its name by a Carmelite friar after his patron saint Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The area was officially colonized in 1770 by Gaspar de Portola and Franciscan priests Junipero Serra and Juan Crespi, who had been searching for a mission site. Many of these missions still exist in Carmel today.

Present-day Carmel is a fun and charming city with an artsy side due to the influx of musicians and painters who moved here from San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake. The focus of developing Carmel has been to emphasize its natural beauty. Many sprawling mansions overlook the water, and rustic Spanish architecture is common. Some small cottages and condos are available, but many of the hillside mansions price well into the millions.

What to Love

  • Stunning ocean views
  • Vibrant artistic scene
  • Unique downtown with fun shops and dining

People & Lifestyle

Carmel is technically a city but possesses a unique small-town charm. The area has been designated as a residential area, which is its focus; residents respectfully exist around nature, and there are strict rules about altering the environment to build. Interestingly, Carmel has no street lights or parking meters, and businesses do not have street numbers.

This area is perfect for families who want to experience the natural wonders that California has to offer while simultaneously enjoying a close-knit community. Retirees and artists also love Carmel for its laid-back, positive vibes and peaceful scenery.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping

There’s plenty to see and do in Carmel. The area is home to many highly-rated restaurants with outdoor dining, where you can enjoy delicious high-end cuisine while overlooking the water.

Art-focused Carmel offers plenty of locations to browse paintings, many by talented local artists. The Jones & Terwilliger Galleries is one of the area’s premier gallery destinations, displaying gorgeous paintings and sculptures. Shoppers enjoy walking through the open-air Del Monte Center, which offers everything from trendy stores to a movie theater.

Sample some wine at the delightful, Western-themed Galante Wine Tasting Room. Carmel also offers fabulous dining opportunities such as Anton & Michel, an upscale American restaurant with a cozy and romantic dining room. There’s also La Bicyclette for incredible French cuisine and Pescadero for authentic and delicious Mexican dishes.

Things to Do

Plenty of exciting events and festivals are held in Carmel every year. The area is especially popular with art lovers, who arrive in town to admire the many galleries and displays. Residents love interacting with neighbors and meeting new friends at the city’s local events.

For almost sixty years, Carmel has held an annual Sandcastle Contest on Carmel beach, an event beloved by the community. The Relais & Châteaux Gourmet Fest, which includes wine tastings and cooking demos, is another annual offering—a luxury food and wine festival that draws visitors from across the country. The Carmel Bach Festival began in 1935, and today runs as a two-week musical celebration with concerts and recitals; there’s also a Carmel Art Festival which celebrates the work of local artists.

The Carmel Mission Basilica Museum, an authentically-restored Roman Catholic mission church, is certainly worth a visit. It’s a designated National Historic Landmark that still holds mass on Sundays and special holidays.


Carmel is home to several excellent schools. Students attend schools within the Carmel Unified School District, which includes two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.

  • Carmel High School, 9-12, regularly ranked nationally by Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report

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