For Sale: Scenic Scenic 2 & 3 SE of 9th

Carmel-by-the-Sea feels like a page out of a storybook: a charming village with so much history woven into the homes and streets. One unique thing about Carmel is the unconventional address system. The founding principle of this area is the intentional rejection of using a traditional address system. So, instead of giving someone a house number and street name, you might offer directions like: “Go to the third house on the right, and look for the blue mailbox with the bush of blooming red roses.

Why Carmel’s Founders Rejected Traditional Street Addresses

When the founders designed the quaint town, they wanted a way to maintain the unique character of the area. The goal was to reduce the risk of over-development. This system aims to preserve the character of the homes and streets.

Early on, street navigation required residents to use descriptions and landmarks to give people directions. Additionally, houses had names (selected by their owners) that could also be helpful for identifying locations.

Even without the use of traditional street addresses, the post office has always been an integral part of community interaction and mail delivery. It is truly a neighborhood experience when the mailman knows where everyone is living.

Examples of Street Addresses in Carmel

If you look at the home names and street names, it’s easy to see how the village is maintaining a whimsical charm with this system. The residents choose names that are fun, creative, emotional, and humorous:

  • Fairy Tale Cottage
  • Seventh Heaven
  • Sandy Pause
  • La Petite Fleur
  • Petite Retreat
  • Tres Jolie
  • The Pacific Pearl
  • Hansel & Gretel Cottages
  • The Crooked Little House
  • Hobbit House
  • The Shoebox

Street names are often inspired by location and history, such as Dolores Street, named after a Spanish mission. Other examples include Scenic Road, San Carlos Street, and Junipero Avenue (named after Father Junipero Serra).

If you are trying to find a destination in Carmel, you won’t be given a numbered address. Instead, the instructions might look something like this:

  • Park at the beach lot and walk north along Scenic Road until you see the Tor House on your left.
  • The cottage with the red door on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Dolores Street.
  • The house with the white picket fence, three doors down from the Tuck Box on Sixth Avenue.


Commercial Property For Sale: San Carlos 3 NE of 6th

Modern Day Challenges of Carmel’s System

While the lack of addresses worked in an older system, there are many modern challenges that need to be considered now. Some of these challenges relate to the difficulty of providing deliveries, emergency services, and other modern conveniences when the buildings and homes don’t have numbers. Also, GPS and mapping systems struggle to accommodate the unique system in Carmel – making it difficult for visitors to navigate the area.

Some people are speaking up as a voice for change, asking for adjustments to be made. The argument is that numbered addresses are essential for both safety and practical reasons. The counter-argument is that residents love the quirky system and don’t want to lose the town’s charm.

Suggestions have been made to find some type of hybrid system that utilizes both numbers and names or possibly number the houses discreetly. The real question is posed: Is it possible to balance tradition while also incorporating progress in a changing world?

Written by Becki Andrus in partnership with Clearwater Butterfly releases for weddings and other events.