Travel: The best photo spots in Carmel-by-the-sea

Carmel is a wealthy town, with stores of TiffanyRolex and downtown estate jewelers men’s pants that might cost you $300 (a pair was really shown to me at this price!) and meals that could be quite expensive. But with the surrounding landscape, what would you expect?

It’s a place any of us would want to live, and the good news, despite the wealth, the people there couldn’t be nicer. I didn’t witness snobbery like I might have in Beverly Hills or some other ultra-rich community, not at all.

I met a lot of really interesting people in Carmel, new friends who I hope to keep in touch with for years to come. (I’m talking about Manny and Lynne.)

In fact, I’m going to cede this space to Lynne Allenspach for the next quote. She’s the director of tourism for the Chamber of Carmel, and she summed up the city very well when I met her at the tourist office.

First, she told me that she was out of the Midwest for a month-long visit and had decided not to return. It was a few years ago. Then I asked him to describe Carmel.

We’ve got a little square mile here, but it’s such a fairytale European village, just laying right on the California coast…We’ve got 20 wineries, 50 restaurants and over 80 art galleries…”

And no red lights or addresses!

“Everyone has to go to the post office to pick up their mail. It keeps that little sense of community.


Our original plan was to spend two days in Carmel and another two in Monterey, but that didn’t work out. We just fell in love with Carmel and didn’t want to leave. (We gave a day for Monterey, which was probably not enough. The good news: you can always go back.)

So why did we fall in love with CBTS, as they call it?

Many reasons:

I love a good walkable town, and Carmel, with its mix of gingerbread buildings and ultra-cute shops, was very inviting to wander around. I didn’t have to drive anywhere. That’s why I like to visit New York, Paris, Catalina Island, Lisbon and other great places. Walking is king.

And on the photo side, there was so much to see and photograph. Allow me to point out five photo highlights in the village of Carmel.

But first, please start at the Visitor Center for maps and guidance. Because, as you know, I always recommend checking with people who know their city better than you do. The center is in a strip mall at the top of Ocean Avenue in Carmel Plaza. (Remember, they don’t have a Carmel address. It’s listed between Junipero and Mission, on the second floor of Carmel Plaza.)

The new mural on Mission Street is a popular spot for an Insta-selfie


The fairy tale gingerbread houses of Carmel are probably the most popular post-sunset photo op. The Tuck Box, a local restaurant, is a prime example, as is the Cottage of Sweets candy store on busy Ocean Avenue.

Walk down Ocean Avenue to the sea, and a block before you hit the water is Scenic Road, which is blocks and blocks of stunning ocean views amid cypress trees. This is therefore highly recommended, for morning and sunset photos. (Key image: Film the sun setting through the branches of the vast cypress trees, as seen in the video thumbnail above.) If you take the road all the way to the end, you’ll end up in Carmel River State Beach, where you’ll see some of the biggest waves and best views. Don’t miss it.

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