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Three must-do excursions from Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sunset over the ocean

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea. But at the same time, if you restrict your trip to the town itself, you’ll miss all the amazing activities this naturally diverse and beautiful area has to offer. Read on for three half-day excursions you shouldn’t miss, located just a stone’s throw from Carmel!

BIXBY BRIDGE, BIG SUR

Bixby Bridge and ocean cliffs

If you’ve never been to Big Sur, there are scarcely words to describe how breathtaking this part of the California coast truly is. And one place to marvel at it in all its glory is Bixby Bridge, which stretches out iconically beside the ocean shore.

If you can, plan to visit on a day you’ll get a clear view of the setting sun, and arrive at least an hour before official sunset time. Relax and watch as the sun bathes the entire area in golden light before dipping below the horizon.

You’ll need a car to reach Bixby, but you’ll find ample parking once there. Make sure to view the bridge from both the front and the back—it looks spectacular from every angle—but be careful crossing the busy highway! And don’t forget your camera and a blanket to sit on. 

Bixby Bridge at sunset
Carly overlooking ocean
Bixby Bridge sunset view
Sunset cliffs by the ocean

FOLKTALE WINERY AND VINEYARDS

Folktale Winery exterior

If you’ve ever wanted to sip sparkling rosé in the most beautiful, glass-enclosed room while pretending you’re a princess, Folktale Winery is the place to do it. The winery, located just about 7 miles and 11 minutes by car from Carmel, has a stunning space, with both outdoor seating and airy indoor rooms flush with flora.

Once you’ve photographed to your heart’s content (and you’ll want to, trust me), do a wine tasting, take a tour or catch an event, such as live concerts or yoga classes. You also can—and should—eat at Folktale, and whether it’s lunch or just a snack board or two to go with your drinks, you won’t leave disappointed. 

Folktale is open every day of the week; check its website for hours. 

Person pouring wine glasses
Bottle of wine on ice
Long table in glass-enclosed room
Bottle of wine and appetizers
Wine and crudite
Table set for lunch
Brussels sprouts dish
Wine bottles and couch

POINT LOBOS STATE NATURAL RESERVE

Point Lobos green cove

Whether you’re looking to bask in the quiet and calm of nature or spot wildlife to your heart’s content, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the place. Easy and super-scenic walking trails hug the coast and offer incredible views, and the reserve boasts opportunities to see sea lions, otters, a variety of birds and more. 

Located just a 9-minute drive from the center of Carmel, Point Lobos feels totally removed from the town and its tourism, and it’s the perfect place to post up on a bench and listen to the ocean waves crash against the shore. 

The park stays open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with the last entry permitted at 6:30 p.m. It charges a $10 entrance fee for each passenger car. 

Point Lobos ocean landscape
Point Lobos rocky shore
Point Lobos cove with seals
Point Lobos ocean landscape
Point Lobos rocky shore

Looking for more on Carmel-by-the-Sea? Read my review of the Hotel Carmel or check out the full recap of my long weekend stay in town!

Hope you enjoyed this roundup of things to do near Carmel-by-the-Sea! Have you been to Carmel? What were your favorite activities there? Let me know in the comments! >>

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Three must-do trips from Carmel, CA
3 must-do excursions from Carmel
3 must-do trips from Carmel

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