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The Perfect Weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Inspiration, fresh air, and classic coastal views await in this charmed California Central Coast hamlet. Here’s how to make the most of a three-day weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

what to do day-by-day on a long weekend carmel

Learn More About Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea Tasting Rooms: The highly walkable town has local winery tasting rooms on almost every block. It’s easy to mix wine tasting with sightseeing, shopping, and gallery-hopping, or to just create your own afternoon wine walk.

Il Tegamino: This cozy and romantic Italian spot is tucked into the Court of the Golden Bough, one of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s most charming hidden courtyards. Helmed by a chef from Naples, this restaurant is celebrated for its authentic regional dishes.

Gael Gallagher’s Carmel Walks: Gael Gallagher knows how to make the history of Carmel come alive. And she does just that while leading small groups through the hidden paths and courtyards of Carmel-by-the-Sea. These two-hour walking tours are a great introduction to the town, and Gallagher is full of recommendations for post-tour exploration.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Carmel-by-the-Sea would be the perfect place to explore on a bike were it not for its hillside location. But renting an electric bike (there are many types to choose from) solves the hill problem and delivers all the beauty and fresh air of the region without any of the sweating or swearing that comes from navigating the town’s hilly streets.

Flaherty’s Seafood: Fresh and sustainable are the driving forces at this seafood-first restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the place to find regional, seasonal specials like abalone, local artichokes, and West Coast clam chowder.

Carmel Art Tours: Because there are nearly 100 galleries in Carmel’s one square mile, the decision of where to visit can be overwhelming, but Carmel Art Tours simplifies and elevates the experience. Rohana LoSchiavo leads thoughtfully curated tours to a rotating selection of the best art galleries in town.

Carriage House Inn: This welcoming AAA 4-Diamond inn is tucked into the quiet fringes of downtown, and makes it easy to explore Carmel-by-the-Sea without a car. In-room fireplaces, feather beds, and jetted tubs are luxurious touches, and breakfast delivered to your door gets every day off to a delicious start.

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By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at editor@smartertravel.com.

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