There are such a variety of contributors that make Carmel a truly unique place to live including but not limited to the high quality of life, breathtaking natural beauty offered by the central California coast, the community’s preservation of history, the cultural emphasis on art, food and wine, and last but not least their amazing school district. Each of these is embedded into the Carmel culture and community with equal importance.
Quality of Life
The Quality of Life is central to the Carmel community, which started with the original vision for the town to help inspire those artists and intellects that called Carmel “home.” According to CLRSearch.com, Carmel has a Quality of Life rating of almost twice that of the national average. Some of the factors that contribute to the high quality of life have to do with the world-class restaurants, shopping, art galleries, wine tasting rooms, festivals, events, ocean beaches and weather – all of which are within a 1 mile walking distance of each other in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Literally, anything you could imagine doing is available to you in Carmel. Feel like a morning stroll on the beach then shopping at some of the finest shops in the world? Or maybe you would like to take a tour of history at the beautifully authentic Carmel Mission where Junipero Serra is buried then take a walking tour of Carmel secret pathways, hidden courtyards, award winning gardens and chanted cottages? Maybe you would like to take a surf lesson followed up with a scuba diving and hiking expedition in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and ending the day watching the beautiful sunset into the Pacific Ocean over a beach bonfire? Or perhaps fine dining experience along with a wine tasting tour of local wineries and merchants? Maybe you would like to browse a diversity of artist owned working galleries and studios was well as “A-List” dealers with outstanding collections of classic and modern master painters from America and Europe? You can even take the kids to a young artist’s studio so they can create their own masterpiece and follow up with a show like “Peter Pan” at the outdoor Forest Theater. The possibilities are endless.
As if the activities listed above wasn’t’ enough, there are hundreds of festivals and events throughout the calendar year in Carmel, each of which brings additional culture to the community along with millions of visitors to the community to wonder at Carmel’s beauty and charm. Some of the most popular festivals include the Cars on the Avenue which hosts the well-known Concours d’Elegance world famous classic motors on Ocean Avenue, the Carmel Art Festival, 4th of July Celebration, the Carmel Arts & Film Festival, the finish line of the Big Sur International Marathon, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Summer Live Music Series, the Taste of Carmel that brings over two dozen local food and wine vendors together for a Masquerade Ball, Annual City Birthday Party and Parade, and Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. Events include a variety of musical instrumental concerts, opera productions, musical singers, theater productions, and food presentations from world famous chefs.
Because of the natural beauty offered by the coastline, Carmel also focuses on creating a sustainable community that is eco driven that involves all of the residents in conscious choices to contribute to the long term well being of the community (economically, environmentally, and socially). Residents are encouraged to walk within the one square mile town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and buy locally grown produce at farmer’s markets. There are two weekly farmer’s markets hosted during the Summer and Fall months. The first Farmer’s Market is hosted on Tuesdays from 9 am to 1 pm at The Barnyard Shopping Village (3690 The Barnyard in Carmel), and the second Farmer’s Market is hosted Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm at the parking lot of the Sunset Center (San Carlos Street, between 8th and 9th Avenue in Carmel).
Because Carmel wants to include the whole family in festivities, over half of the businesses in Carmel-by-the-Sea are dog friendly. You are able to take your dog into stores, stay at a bed & breakfast, and even eat with your four-legged friend in outdoor dining areas. There is even a restaurant like Forge in the Forest that has a doggy menu for pets. Most stores offer doggy treats at the counter and Carmel Plaza shopping center boasts the “Fountain of Woof,” a designated “dogs only” drinking fountain.
The central coastline of California, particularly in the area of Carmel, is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The pristine white-sanded beaches of Carmel have been ranked as one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the nation.
To the north of Carmel Beach you can marvel at the beauty of the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Course and to the south you can see gorgeous views of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Point Lobos is described at “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world” and rightfully so. Point Lobos is filled with hidden coves, beaches, and overlooks where the many shades of Pacific blues and greens will dazzle your senses. Next to the spectacular scenic beauty of the Point, the presence of wildlife is among the area’s most impressive features. Here it is possible to observe in a primitive environment over 350 plant species and over 250 animals, marine mammals, and bird species living in interesting relationships to one another. Additionally the Carmel coastline offers marine protected sanctuaries to ensure the sustainability of the ocean’s natural resources.
The ocean is not the only breath-taking feature of Carmel’s natural beauty, the pine and cypress forest within and surrounding the village is equally as beautiful. The forest is part of Los Padres National Forest that spans over 1.75 million acres of unspoiled, primitive wilderness areas. Because Carmel values nature and the sanctity of their forest, there are many restrictions as to what residents can and can’t do with trees located within the town. There are over 13,000 trees growing on the public grounds and the town makes sure the urban forest stays healthy and safe year round for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Preservation of History
Because of the rich history of the community, Carmel is dedicated to maintain the same level of magical charm and character it was founded on back in 1902. You can immediately notice this dedication to preserving history by the cobblestone roads built around magnificent cypress trees, lively European-like cottage shops, historical buildings that have their same characteristics from 100 years ago, and the absence of street lights throughout the village.
One of the most noticeable characteristics that Carmel has kept from its history is the absence of physical addresses in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The founding residents took on the tradition to name their house rather than having numerical addresses. For example, rather than having a street address of 123 Monte Verde Street, the named house may be called “Dream Come True.” Additionally, the addresses in Carmel are noted as street, cross street, and number of houses from the intersection, like “Monte Verde 4SWof 8th”. Because the addresses can be confusing to the postal service, the tradition has been that residents have their mail delivered to the local post office rather than their home. The whole idea of keeping the tradition of the post office mail delivery was to have a central hub and meeting place for the residents. There is also a bulletin board to announce community information and events where residents can post anything of interest.
Art, Food, and Wine Mecca
Over the past couple of decades, Carmel has established itself as having some of the best art galleries, finest dining available, and world winning wine tasting rooms.
The over 90 art galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea feature over 600 American and European artists. These art galleries feature traditional fine art and contemporary art, California art, Wildlife art, Indian pottery, sculpture, fine art photography, paintings, and other types of visual art. Regardless of if you are an art novice or seasoned art collector, you are sure to find plenty of artistic wondering in these fine art galleries.
Carmel restaurants and bars boast among some of the world’s landmark establishments. The town’s charming eateries feature a full range of international, regional and local cuisines. Carmel restaurants have a hallmark blend of Old World elegance and modern charm, all with an artistic flair. Some of the “Best of Carmel” restaurants include but are not limited to Anton & Michel which won the best dining experience for a wine spectator, Casanova which was voted most romantic restaurant, Dametra Café which was voted best overall restaurant, Vesuvio voted best happy hour, and Client Eastwood’s Mission Ranch was voted best brunch and is known for its American Cuisine and Piano Bar that overlooks sheep grazing meadows along with mountain and ocean views.
Thanks to the coastal climate and rich soil, Carmel is gaining notoriety for its wine. The surrounding area of Carmel was voted one of the Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World. Because of that, over the past decade the wine tasting rooms in Carmel-by-the-Sea has exploded. There are ten wine tasting rooms in the one square mile of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which have joined together to offer the Carmel Wine Walk By The Sea Passport. The Passport is $65 and offers a superior wine tasting experience on the self-paced, self-guided stroll to all ten of the tasting rooms that are in walking distance from Ocean Avenue. Each tasting room is please to offer superior wines and champagnes from around the corner and around the world.
The Carmel Unified School district is one of the finest school districts in the state of California and even in the country. Each of the schools in the school district is well defined in achieving academic excellence and helping students reach their full potential to contribute within the community. The school district has been awarded with such high achievements such as being in the top 10% of all school districts in the state of California, one of the “Best Communities for Music Education in America”, and one of the best school districts to help students prepare for college.
The weather of Carmel is cool Mediterranean climate with an average year round temperature of 57°F (14°C) with lows of 45°F and highs of 70°F. Carmel annually has 260 days of some sun; fog is typical earlier in the day and during the evenings a damp mist moves in from the ocean, which is phenomenal for all of the beautiful vegetation in the area. The raining season is from October to May with an average annual rainfall of 25 inches per year. Summers are usually overcast. Carmel has what is called an Indian Summer which occurs in September and October. During these months, average temperatures are closer to 65°F with very little rain. Because of the mild weather, Carmel is an ideal location for those people that are escaping the brutal summers of harsher, hotter climates such as the California Central Valley and the American Southwest. In the event Carmel residents are craving a warmer climate, they have the availability of driving a few miles inland where temperatures can be ten to twenty degrees warmer.