Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., is an idyllic coastal destination that draws travelers worldwide. With the stunning ocean views from the bluffs to the spectacular homes, outdoor activities, and rich history, it's no wonder why tourists and prospective buyers flock to this charming destination. While moving to a lovely coastal town may seem like a far-off retirement dream for many, Carmel demonstrates that buyers can have it all. If you are making Carmel real estate your own, read on for a list of fantastic activities your whole family can look forward to.

1. Whale watch at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a mecca for nature lovers of all ages. Here, your whole family can admire the splendors of marine life while whale-watching and trying to spot sea lions — some of the most popular activities at Point Lobos, especially in the wintertime. It’s the perfect place to take beautiful photographs or meander through wooded terrain. Hikers will delight in exploring this natural oasis characterized by its stunning rocky coastline populated with rare Monterey cypress trees. Water adventurers can take part in kayaking or even scuba diving amidst dense kelp jungles filled with aquatic wildlife.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has earned the title “The crown jewel of the California State Park System” for its remarkable beauty. Landscape painter Francis McComas and photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams spent countless hours trying to capture the beauty of Point Lobos. It is truly an incredible place locals cherish with great care and respect.

2. Explore Carmel River State Beach

Not known for its gentle waters or warm temperatures, most visitors prefer to keep to the beautiful sands of Carmel River State Beach when visiting, whether for a walk or a picnic.

Offering magnificently scenic views of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federally protected area, Carmel Bay's mile-long beach displays an awe-inspiring bird sanctuary in its lagoon. An impressive amount of waterfowl and songbirds accompany visitors as they enjoy this picturesque location. 

Carmel River State Beach is also home to Monastery Beach, an idyllic seaside spot. While the area is perfect for scuba diving, it's unsafe for shallow-water swimming or wading. Here, you can enjoy a warm afternoon or a brisk winter day with your whole family, playing catch or spotting birds, boats, and long stretches of beach.

3. Catch a show

Visit the Pacific Repertory Theatre (PacRep), the sole professional theater of Monterey County! The Golden Bough Playhouse houses two physical theaters used by the PacRep: the Golden Bough Theatre, an alluring proscenium-style venue with a capacity for 300 guests, and The Circle Theatre, an intimate setting that houses up to 120. Here, your family can enjoy spectacular musicals, classical pieces, and experimental works.

Pacific Repertory Theatre's introduction to the Golden Bough Playhouse in 1995 was met with overwhelming praise from critics and audiences alike. Led by Stephen Moorer, the PacRep quickly ascended as the go-to theater company of Central Coast, blending both classic American and European plays with captivating pieces such as Death of A Salesman and La Bete. Community-based art groups from around the area, such as Monterey Opera Association, Monterey County Symphony, Dance Kids, Inc., and Carmel Ballet Academy, have all taken the stage at The Golden Bough for their outstanding performances.

4. Dine or shop at Carmel Plaza

If you’re up for a bit of retail therapy, look no further for a collection of shops that range from one-of-a-kind fashion finds to national specialty brands. Standout shops include Arhaus Studio, Kate Spade, Land & Sea Golf, and more. Enjoy a meal at Cafe Luna, Carmel Burger Bar, or Flying Fish Grill, while a dessert from Dutch Door Donuts or Lula’s Chocolates is the perfect ending to a fun family day. 

Various events are held here throughout the year, like live concerts, yoga classes, culinary celebrations, and more. Spend your summer evenings in the beautiful and inviting atmosphere of Carmel Plaza's open-air courtyard. Enjoy cozy seating, flickering firepits, and vibrant gardens, all set to a live music series throughout the season.

5. Explore Garrapata State Park

Spanning two miles of the incredible Big Sur coast, Garrapata State Park offers breathtaking hiking trails leading to a stunning view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. At the foot of the splendid Santa Lucia Range, Garrapata's 3,000 acres boast a picturesque rocky shoreline and a breathtaking inland area with soaring mountains and incredible redwood canyons. Nature lovers can explore its jagged shorelines and redwood forests while taking in an awe-inspiring 50-foot climb, all three miles south of Point Lobos State Reserve.

The park is ideal for year-round exploration, with an average annual temperature of 50 to 65 degrees. From misty mornings to intense onshore winds to hotter summer days, no two days are ever quite alike! Not only will you be surrounded by coastal plants, but you can also discover stunning trails leading from sandy ocean beaches into lush redwood forests.

Soberanes Point, a beautiful part of the park, is a genuinely magnificent strip of the coast. Sea otters, seals, and sea lions are familiar visitors to the coastal waters here. In addition, it is not uncommon to observe California gray whales passing through during their yearly migration. It’s the perfect place for an inspiring, memorable adventure with your family.

Make your move to Carmel

As you can see, the family-friendly activities in Carmel are endless, with the outdoors acting as a playground and a relentlessly fun scene in this tranquil village by the sea. If you’re ready to make Carmel real estate your next move, reach out to expert agent Tim Allen to get results. With in-depth knowledge of the area and a top ranking, Tim is the pro you want by your side — in Carmel and beyond. Contact top Carmel real estate agent Tim Allen today to learn more about making Carmel your new home and start browsing beautiful homes for sale in Carmel-by-the-Sea today.