Visitors can always find plenty of free places to go and activities to do in the charming city of Carmel and surrounding area. Because the area offers an abundance of natural beauty, it lends itself to many no-cost entertainment opportunities. Whether you choose to stroll along the beach at sunset with your significant other, window shop in the downtown area with your friends or explore the area’s culture with your family, there are many interesting free options for everyone.
Here are a few to help you get started:
Find Your Nirvana at the Beach
Located just below Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach is a dog-friendly beach that is famous for its silky, white sand and Carmel Bay setting. Not far from a small, free parking lot, beach lovers can play volleyball, take a leisurely hike amid Monterey cypress trees on Scenic Bluff Path, ride the waves on a surfboard, or simply soak up the California sun on a beach towel.
Splendor in the Park
Carmel provides over 60 outdoor areas that are fondly classified as either courtyards, sitting areas, parks, or plazas. One of the most popular parks is?Devendorf Park. Situated right in the center of town at?Ocean and Junipero Avenues, it often hosts a variety of City events and celebrations, since it features an expansive peaceful lawn area, park benches, stone pathways, and plenty of shade trees.
Or, if you’re up for some fun, you can visit?Forest Hills Park?at?Camino del Monte and Junipero Avenues, since it offers a kid’s play structure, swings, tennis and volleyball courts, a horseshoe pit, and?barbecues. To commune with nature, stop by?First Murphy Park?on Lincoln and 6th Avenue to stroll the walking paths and visit gardens filled with?Californian native plants.
You can also stop by Picadilly Park, on Dolores between Ocean and 7th Avenue, to celebrate the day in a quaint courtyard park, complete with benches, a bubbling fountain and a variety of greenery.
Go Hiking or Sightseeing
Arguably the area’s crown jewel, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve?provides 13 trails for both beginner and seasoned hikers. Along with spectacular views of the craggy coastline and cliffs, sightseers can oftentimes glimpse seals, sea lions, whales, otters and more. (Point Lobos also offers diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding opportunities for a fee.) Reserve parking costs $10, but visitors can park along Highway 1 for free.
Stroll Old Fisherman’s Wharf
Not far from the?Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman’s Wharf provides sweeping views of the bay and fresh salty sea air. If you time it right, you might even be able to watch fishermen unload their haul-of-the-day, since Wharf 2 is integral to the region’s busy fishing industry.
Window Shop on Cannery Row
Also close to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row is checkered with small hotels, shops and restaurants. Visitors often enjoy window shopping the area’s many unique boutique shops in the Cannery Row Antique Mall. Enjoy the unique history of this once-thriving West Coast fishery by visiting the locations profiled in this article by the Mercury’s Jackie Burrell.
Discover Carmel’s History
Carmel has been home to many famous painters, writers, and intellectuals. To learn about the area’s rich history, you can visit the Carmel Heritage Society at Lincoln and 6th. This organization?is currently celebrating Carmel’s centennial with an exhibit entitled THEN/NOW Carmel, which is?free to the public, Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 3 pm.
Lastly, please take the time on any visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea to stop by our Anne Thull Fine Art Designs showroom. Located at the corner of 5th Ave. & San Carlos downtown, we feature a wide variety of hand-crafted pieces from a broad range of local and international artisans.