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Carmel-by-the-Sea, California facts for kids

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City of Carmel-by-the-Sea
16 21 0440 carmel mission (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Carmel by the Sea Coastline (Unsplash) (cropped).jpg
Top: Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. Bottom: Carmel coastline.
Official seal of Carmel-by-the-Sea
Location of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County, California
Location of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County, California
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Country United States
State California
County Monterey
Incorporated October 31, 1916
 • Total 1.06 sq mi (2.75 km2)
 • Land 1.06 sq mi (2.75 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
223 ft (68 m)
 • Total 3,220
 • Density 3,034.87/sq mi (1,171.46/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code 831 Exchanges: 620,622,624,625,626
FIPS code 06-11250
GNIS feature IDs 1658224, 2409987

Carmel-by-the-Sea, often simply called Carmel, is a city in Monterey County, California, United States, founded in 1902 and incorporated on October 31, 1916. Situated on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. In 1906, the San Francisco Call devoted a full page to the "artists, writers and poets at Carmel-by-the-Sea", and in 1910 it reported that 60 percent of Carmel's houses were built by citizens who were "devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts." Early City Councils were dominated by artists, and several of the city's mayors have been poets or actors, including Herbert Heron, founder of the Forest Theater, bohemian writer and actor Perry Newberry, and actor-director Clint Eastwood.

The town is known for being dog-friendly, with numerous hotels, restaurants and retail establishments admitting guests with dogs. Carmel is also known for several unusual laws, including a prohibition on wearing high-heeled shoes without a permit, enacted to prevent lawsuits arising from tripping accidents caused by irregular pavement.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is located on the Pacific coast, about 330 miles (531 km) north of Los Angeles and 120 miles (193 km) south of San Francisco. Communities near Carmel-by-the-Sea include Carmel Valley and Carmel Highlands. The larger town of Monterey borders Carmel to the north.

As of the 2020 census, the town had a total population of 3,220, down from 3,722 at the 2010 census.


The Carmel-by-the-Sea area is permeated by Native American, Spanish, Mexican and American history. Most scholars believe that the Esselen-speaking people were the first Native Americans to inhabit the area of Carmel, but the Ohlone people pushed them south into the mountains of Big Sur around the 6th century.

Carmel California, 1794 sketch by John Sykes
Early mission settlement after relocation to Carmel as depicted by John Sykes in 1794

Spanish Mission settlement

The first Europeans to see this land were Spanish mariners led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, who sailed up the California coast without landing. Another sixty years passed before another Spanish explorer and Carmelite friar Sebastián Vizcaíno discovered for Spain what is now known as Carmel Valley in 1602, which he named for his patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Spanish did not attempt to colonize the area until 1770, when Gaspar de Portolà, along with Franciscan priests Junípero Serra and Juan Crespí, visited the area in search of a mission site. Portolà and Crespí traveled by land while Serra traveled with the Mission supplies aboard ship, arriving eight days later. The colony of Monterey was established at the same time as the second mission in Alta California and soon became the capital of California until 1849.

Mission San Carlos and Junípero Serra

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo circa 1910 William Amos Haines
The Mission at Carmel, c. 1910.

The Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded on June 3, 1770 in the nearby settlement of Monterey, but was relocated to Carmel by Junípero Serra due to the interaction between soldiers stationed at the nearby Presidio and the native Indians.

In December 1771, the transfer was complete as the new stockade of approximately 130x200 became the new Mission Carmel. Simple buildings of plastered mud were the first church and dwellings until a more sturdy structure was built of wood from nearby pine and cypress trees to last through the seasonal rains. This too was only a temporary church until a permanent stone edifice was built.

In 1784, Serra, after one last tour of all the California missions, died and was buried at his request at the Mission in the Sanctuary of the San Carlos Church, next to Crespí who had passed the previous year. He was buried with full military honors.

The Mission at Carmel has significance beyond the history of Serra, who is sometimes called the "Father of California". It also contains the state's first library.


Ocean Ave, c. 1908.

A welder, John Martin, acquired lands surrounding the Carmel mission in 1833, which he named Mission Ranch. Carmel became part of the United States in 1848, when Mexico ceded California as a result of the Mexican-American War.

Known as "Rancho Las Manzanitas", the area that was to become Carmel-by-the-Sea was purchased by French businessman Honore Escolle in the 1850s. Escolle was well known and prosperous in the City of Monterey, owning the first commercial bakery, pottery kiln, and brickworks in Central California. His descendants, the Tomlinson-Del Piero Family, still live throughout the area.

In 1888, Escolle and Santiago Duckworth, a young developer from Monterey with dreams of establishing a Catholic retreat near the Carmel Mission, filed a subdivision map with the County Recorder of Monterey County. By 1889, 200 lots had been sold. The name "Carmel" was earlier applied to another place on the north bank of the Carmel River 13 miles (21 km) east-southeast of the present-day Carmel. A post office called Carmel opened in 1889, closed in 1890, re-opened in 1893, moved in 1902, and closed for good in 1903. Abbie Jane Hunter, founder of the San Francisco-based Women's Real Estate Investment Company, first used the name "Carmel-by-the-Sea" on a promotional postcard.

In 1902 James Frank Devendorf and Frank Powers, on behalf of the Carmel Development Company, filed a new subdivision map of the core village that became Carmel. The Carmel post office opened the same year. In 1910, the Carnegie Institution established the Coastal Laboratory, and a number of scientists moved to the area. Carmel incorporated in 1916.

Arts colony

Mary Austin, Jack London, George Sterling, Jimmie Hooper, restored
George Sterling, Mary Austin, Jack London and Jimmie Hooper, Carmel-by-the-Sea.

In 1905, the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club was formed to support and produce artistic works. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake the village was inundated with musicians, writers, painters and other artists turning to the establishing artist colony after the bay city was destroyed. The new residents were offered home lots – ten dollars down, little or no interest, and whatever they could pay on a monthly basis.

Jack London describes the artists' colony in his novel The Valley of the Moon. Among the noted writers who lived in or frequented the village were Mary Austin, Nora May French, Robinson Jeffers, Sinclair Lewis, George Sterling and his protege Clark Ashton Smith, and Upton Sinclair. Visual artists of Carmel in the early twentieth century included Anne Bremer, Ferdinand Burgdorff, E. Charlton Fortune, Arnold Genthe, Percy Gray, Armin Hansen, Alice MacGowan, Charles Rollo Peters, William Frederic Ritschel, and Sydney Yard.

The Arts and Crafts Club held exhibitions, lectures, dances, and produced plays and recitals at numerous locations in Carmel, including the Pine Inn Hotel, the Old Bath House on Ocean Ave, the Forest Theater, and a small building in the downtown area donated by the Carmel Development Company.

In 1911, the town's rich Shakespearean tradition began with a production of Twelfth Night, directed by Garnet Holme of UC Berkeley and featuring future mayors Perry Newberry and Herbert Heron, with settings designed by artist Mary DeNeale Morgan. Twelfth Night was again presented in 1940 at Heron's inaugural Carmel Shakespeare Festival, and was repeated in 1942 and 1956.

By 1914, the club had achieved national recognition, with an article in The Mercury Herald commenting that "a fever of activity seems to have seized the community and each newcomer is immediately inoculated and begins with great enthusiasm to do something ... with plays, studios and studies".


Planning and environmental factors

Galleries and shops on Ocean Avenue

The town has historically pursued a vigorous strategy of planned development to enhance its natural coastal beauty and to retain its character, which the city's general plan describes as "a village in a forest overlooking a white sand beach". Carmel-by-the-Sea was incorporated in the year 1916 and as early as 1925 the town adopted a clear vision of its future as "primarily, essentially and predominantly a residential community" (Carmel-by-the-Sea City Council, 1929). The city regularly hosts delegations from cities and towns around the world seeking to understand how the village retains its authenticity in today's increasingly homogeneous world.

New buildings must be built around existing trees and new trees are required on lots that are deemed to have an inadequate number.

Location map USA California Carmel

The one-square-mile village has no street lights or parking meters. In addition, the businesses, cottages and houses have no street numbers. (Originally, the early artists who were the first builders of the homes in the town, named their houses, rather than having numerical addresses.) Due to this situation, the Postal Service provides no delivery of mail to individual addresses. Instead, residents go to the centrally located post office to receive their mail. Overnight delivery services do deliver to what are called geographical addresses, such as "NE Ocean and Lincoln" (Harrison Memorial Library) or "Monte Verde 4SW of 8th" (Golden Bough Playhouse). The format used for geographical addressing lists the street, cross street, and the number of houses from the intersection. For example, in the case of "Monte Verde 4SW of 8th", the address translates to a building on the West side Monte Verde Street four properties south of the 8th Ave intersection.

Planning has consistently recognized the importance of preserving the character of these major sociocultural and public facilities: Sunset Community and Cultural Center, Golden Bough Playhouse, Forest Theater, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Tor House and Hawk Tower, Harrison Memorial Library, and City Hall.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is situated in a moderate seismic risk zone, the principal threats being the San Andreas Fault, which is approximately thirty miles northeast, and the Palo Colorado Fault which traces offshore through the Pacific Ocean several miles away. More minor potentially active faults nearby are the Church Creek Fault and the San Francisquito Fault.

Marine protected areas

Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve, Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area, Point Lobos State Marine Reserve and Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas in the waters around Carmel. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.


The beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea 2009-07-26
The beach on a foggy afternoon at Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The beach on a sunny afternoon at Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Carmel-by-the-Sea experiences a cool summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) normal in coastal areas of California. The wet season is from October to May, and summers are often overcast, the sun blocked by marine layer clouds which can produce drizzle. September and October (Indian Summer) offer the best weather of the year, with an average high of 72 °F (22 °C). The average annual rainfall in Carmel-by-the-Sea is 20 inches per year and the average temperature is 57 °F (14 °C).

Climate data for Carmel-by-the-Sea


Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 60.1
Average low °F (°C) 43
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.19


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 638
1930 2,260 254.2%
1940 2,837 25.5%
1950 4,351 53.4%
1960 4,580 5.3%
1970 4,525 −1.2%
1980 4,707 4.0%
1990 4,239 −9.9%
2000 4,081 −3.7%
2010 3,722 −8.8%
2020 3,220 −13.5%
U.S. Decennial Census


Carmelite Monastery (3305321917)
The Carmelite Convent of Our Lady and Saint Thérèse

The 2010 United States Census reported that Carmel-by-the-Sea had a population of 3,722. The population density was 3,445.5 people per square mile (1,330.3/km2). The racial makeup of Carmel-by-the-Sea was 3,464 (93.1%) White, 11 (0.3%) African American, 8 (0.2%) Native American, 111 (3.0%) Asian, 6 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 45 (1.2%) from other races, and 77 (2.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 174 persons (4.7%).

The Census reported that 3,722 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 2,095 households, out of which 254 (12.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 831 (39.7%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 138 (6.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 50 (2.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 81 (3.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 20 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 934 households (44.6%) were made up of individuals, and 471 (22.5%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.78. There were 1,019 families (48.6% of all households); the average family size was 2.39.

The population was spread out, with 381 people (10.2%) under the age of 18, 114 people (3.1%) aged 18 to 24, 544 people (14.6%) aged 25 to 44, 1,355 people (36.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,328 people (35.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 59.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 77.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.9 males.

There were 3,417 housing units at an average density of 3,163.1 per square mile (1,221.3/km2), of which 1,182 (56.4%) were owner-occupied, and 913 (43.6%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 5.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 8.8%. 2,198 people (59.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,524 people (40.9%) lived in rental housing units.

Arts and culture

Theatre arts

The Arts & Crafts Clubhouse and Golden Bough Theatre fire of 1949.

In 1907 the town's first cultural center and theatre, the Carmel Arts and Crafts Clubhouse, was built. Poets Austin and Sterling performed their "private theatricals" there.

By 1913, The Arts and Crafts Club had begun organizing lessons for aspiring painters, actors & craftsmen. Some of the most prominent painters in the United States offered instruction for beginners and advanced students, including William Merritt Chase, Xavier Martinez, Mary DeNeale Morgan, C. P. Townsley, Matteo Sandona, C. Chapel Judson, and James Blanding Sloan. It was Sloan and his wife who organized Carmel's first international film festival.

In 1924, the Arts and Crafts Hall was built on an adjacent site. This new facility was renamed numerous times including the Abalone Theatre, the Filmarte, the Carmel Playhouse and, finally, the Studio Theatre of the Golden Bough. The original clubhouse, along with the adjoining theatre, burned down in 1949.

The facilities were rebuilt as a two-theatre complex; the theater opened in 1952 as the Golden Bough Playhouse. A photo of the fire from 1949 was still on file 60 years later at the rebuilt theatre illustrating the loss to the city's culture and history.

Forest Theater
Sunset over the 1994 Forest Theater setting for Julius Caesar

The dramas enacted by the Arts & Crafts Club attracted considerable attention, with an article in The Clubwoman noting;

Probably no other women's club in the country has achieved a more remarkable success in the way of dramatic ventures than has The Carmel Club of Arts & Crafts".

In 1910, the Forest Theater, one of the first outdoor theaters west of the Rockies, was built, with poet Mary Austin and actor/director Herbert Heron leading the endeavor. Numerous groups including the Carmel Arts & Crafts Club, Forest Theater Society (1910) and the Western Drama Society (1911) presented plays and pageants. Original works and the plays of Shakespeare were the primary focus. The property was deeded to the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea in order to qualify for federal funding and, in 1939, the site became a Works Progress Administration (WPA) reconstruction project. After several years, the site re-opened as The Carmel Shakespeare Festival, with Herbert Heron as its director and, with the exception of the World War II years of 1943–44, the festival continued through the 1940s.

The Theatre of the Golden Bough (Ocean Ave.) fire of 1935, the first of the two coincidental fires to strike the town's theatrical community.

Theatrical activities in the town grew to such a proportion that between 1922 and 1924, two competing indoor theatres were built – the Arts & Crafts Hall and the Theatre of the Golden Bough, designed and built by Edward G. Kuster and originally located on Ocean Avenue. Kuster was a musician and lawyer from Los Angeles who relocated to Carmel to establish his own theatre and school.

In 1935, after a production of By Candlelight, the Golden Bough was destroyed by fire. Kuster, who had previously bought out the Arts and Crafts Theatre, moved his operation to the older facility and renamed it the Golden Bough Playhouse. In 1949, after remounting By Candlelight, the playhouse again burned to the ground. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1952.

In 1931, the Carmel Sunset School constructed a new auditorium, complete with Gothic-inspired architecture, with seating for 700. Often doubling as a performing arts venue for the community, the facility was bought by the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1964, renaming the venue the Sunset Theatre. In 2003, following a $22 million renovation, the building re-opened with the 66th annual Carmel Bach Festival, hosting such renowned artists as Lyle Lovett, k.d.lang, Wynston Marsalis, and the Vienna Boys' Choir.

In 1949 the first Forest Theater Guild was organized. For most of the 1960s, the outdoor theater lay unused and neglected, with the original Forest Theater Guild having ceased operations in 1961. In 1968, Marcia Hovick's Children's Experimental Theater leased the indoor theater and continued until 2010. In 1972, a new Forest Theater Guild was incorporated and continues to produce musicals, adding a film series in 1997.

In 1984, Pacific Repertory Theatre initiated productions on the outdoor Forest Theater stage, reactivating Herbert Heron's Carmel Shake-speare Festival in 1990 which, in 1994, expanded to include productions at the Golden Bough Playhouse. Pacific Repertory Theatre (PacRep), a regional theatre company, is the only professional (Equity) company in Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula. One of the eight major arts institutions in Monterey County, it was founded in 1982 by Carmel resident Stephen Moorer as the GroveMont Theatre. Its name changed to Pacific Repertory Theatre in 1994 when the company acquired the Golden Bough Playhouse, a two-theatre complex housing both the Golden Bough and the Circle Theatres. PacRep presents a year-round season of 10–12 plays and musicals in three Carmel theatres: The 330-seat Golden Bough Theatre, the 120-seat Circle Theatre and the 540-seat outdoor Forest Theater. Annual outreach programs include PacRep's School of Dramatic Arts (SoDA) and the Tix4Kids program that distributes subsidized theatre tickets to underserved youth.

Literary arts

George Sterling helped establish the arts colony in Carmel

In 1905, poet George Sterling came to Carmel and helped to establish the town's literary base. He was associated with Mary Austin, as well as Jack London, who also spent considerable time in the Carmel and Monterey area. In San Francisco, Sterling was known as the "uncrowned King of Bohemia" and, following the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 many of his literary associates followed him in his move. He is often credited with making Carmel world-famous. His aunt Missus Havens purchased a home for him in Carmel Pines where he lived for six years.

Sterling wrote to his long-time literary mentor, Ambrose Bierce;

"Well, you can see why I must raise vegetables. Belgian hares, hens and the fruit of their wombs, squabs and goldfish, 'keep a bee,' raid mussel reefs, and cultivate a taste for rice – not to mention cold water and 'just one girl.' I'm determined to get into black and white unnumbered multitudes of lines that romp up and down in my innards, eight a-breast."

Mary Austin c.1900
Mary Austin, c. 1900. Austin joined the Carmel arts colony in 1905.

Sterling's visitors included poet Joaquin Miller, writer Charles W. Stoddard and photographer Arnold Genthe, known for his documentary shots of the San Francisco fire that followed the great earthquake, after which Genthe followed Sterling to Carmel to make his residence.

In 1905, novelist Mary Austin moved to Carmel. She is best known for her tribute to the deserts of the American Southwest, The Land of Little Rain. Her play, Fire, which she also directed, had its world premiere at the Forest Theater in 1913. Austin is often credited as suggesting the idea for the outdoor stage.

In 1914, poet Robinson Jeffers (1887–1962), and his wife, Una (1884–1950), found their "inevitable place" when they first saw the Carmel-Big Sur coast south of California's Monterey Peninsula. Among the many contributors to the lore of Mary Austin and Robinson Jeffers was the Carmel landscape photographer Morley Baer, whose photographs, published in two books, complemented their writings.

Robinson Jeffers Hawk Tower, Tor House, Carmel, CA 2008 Photo by Celeste Davison
Robinson Jeffers' Hawk Tower

Over the next decade, on a windswept, barren promontory, using granite boulders gathered from the rocky shore of Carmel Bay, Jeffers built Tor House as a home and refuge for himself and his family. It was in Tor House that Jeffers wrote all of his major poetical works: the long narratives of "this coast crying out for tragedy," the shorter meditative lyrics and dramas on classical themes, culminating in 1947 with the critically acclaimed adaptation of Medea for the Broadway stage, which featured Dame Judith Anderson in the title role.

In 1920, the poet-builder began his work on Hawk Tower. Meant as a retreat for his wife and sons, it was completed in less than four years. Jeffers built the tower entirely by himself. He used wooden planks and a block and tackle system to move the stones and to set them in place. Many influential literary and cultural celebrities were guests of the Jeffers family. Among them were Sinclair Lewis, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Langston Hughes, Charles Lindbergh, George Gershwin and Charlie Chaplin. Later visitors have included William Everson, Robert Bly, Czesław Miłosz and Edward Abbey.

Visual arts

Early color photograph by Arnold Genthe, renowned photographer, while a member of the Bohemian Colony of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, in the early 1900s.

In 1906, San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe joined the Carmel arts colony, where he was able to pursue his pioneering work in color photography. His first attempts were taken in his garden, primarily portraits of his friends, including the leading Shakespearean actor and actress of the period, Edward Sothern and Julia Marlowe, who were costumed as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Of his new residence, he wrote, ""My first trials with this medium were made at Carmel where the cypresses and rocks of Point Lobos, the always varying sunsets and the intriguing shadows of the sand dunes offered a rich field for color experiments."" According to the Library of Congress, where over 18,000 of his negatives and prints are on file, Genthe "became famous for his impressionistic portrayals of society women, artists, dancers, and theater personalities."

Renowned photographer Edward Weston moved to Carmel in 1929 and shot the first of numerous nature photographs, many set at Point Lobos, on the south side of Carmel Bay. In 1936, Weston became the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work in experimental photography. In 1948, after the onset of Parkinson's disease, he took his last photograph, an image of Point Lobos. Weston had traveled extensively with legendary photographer Ansel Adams, who moved to the Carmel Highlands in 1962, a few miles south of town.

Gray Gables, at Lincoln and Seventh was the birthplace of the Carmel Art Association, founded by artists Josephine Culbertson and Jennie V. Cannon. This small group supported art, primarily through the auspices of the Carmel Arts & Crafts Club until 1927, when a meeting took place, and the group elected Pedro Joseph de Lemos as president and committed to building an exhibition gallery to display their works. Their first show with 41 artists took place in October of the same year in the Seven Arts building of Herbert Heron. The permanent gallery was completed in 1933 at its present location on Dolores Street. In the early 1930s the tiny group claimed four members who had attained membership in the National Academy of Design.

G. H. Rothe, the Mezzotint painter, lived for a time in Carmel and built two studios there in 1979.


Sunset reflects on the Sunset Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea
Sunset reflected off the Sunset Center

The Carmel Bach Festival began in 1935 as a three-day festival of concerts, expanding to 3 weeks until the 2009 Season which, due to economic concerns, was reduced to 2 weeks. The Festival is a celebration of music and ideas inspired by the historical and ongoing influence of J.S. Bach in the world. For nearly 80 the Festival has brought the music of the Baroque and beyond to communities of the Monterey Peninsula and to music lovers from both the United States and abroad. Composed of nationally and internationally renowned performing artists, the Festival orchestra and chorale, along with a local chorus, perform in a variety of venues within Carmel including the Sunset Cultural Center and the Carmel Mission Basilica, and other venues throughout the Monterey Peninsula. The Festival schedule features full orchestral and choral works, individual vocal and chamber ensemble concerts, recitals, master classes, films, lectures and informal talks, in addition to interactive social and family events. Since 2011, artistic leadership has been provided by Paul Goodwin, Festival Music Director And Conductor.

The Monterey Symphony provides triple performances of a seven concert series as well as an extensive education program and special performances. It was founded in December 1946 in the Carmel home of its first president Grace Howden.


Major employers in Carmel-by-the-Sea include the La Playa Carmel hotel, Carmel Realty, and the restaurants Forge in the Forest, Il Fornaio, Portabella, Folktale Winery and Casanova.


Carmel is served by the Carmel Unified School District which operates nearby schools including Carmel High School, Carmel Middle School, Tularcitos Elementary School and Carmel River School.


Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quiet town and does not have any big roads. The biggest by a wide margin is Cabrillo Highway ( SR 1), generally called "Highway 1", which at the northern border of town becomes a limited-access freeway where it enters Monterey at exit 399. The freeway goes north toward San Francisco, connecting to U.S. Highway 101.

South of Carpenter Street in the northeast corner of Carmel, Highway 1 changes from a freeway to a two-lane surface road with many at-grade intersections, some signalized, as it remains through town and for a long distance south of Carmel. Some have proposed turning the intersection with Carpenter Street into an interchange as exit 398, but no official proposals have been made. South of Carmel, the highway follows the scenic Big Sur coast before eventually reaching bigger cities such as Santa Barbara and Los Angeles far south of Carmel. However, avoiding the Big Sur Coast and taking the 101 freeway to these cities is much faster, and Highway 1 frequently closes along the Big Sur Coast during rainy season due to mudslides, occasionally for months at a time due to the damage. These landslides usually do not happen near Carmel, however.

Carmel's other major street is Ocean Avenue, which serves as the town's main business district and goes straight from Highway 1 to the beach. An entrance gate to the 17 Mile Drive, a scenic road along the Monterey Bay coast, is located just inside Carmel's northern city limits.

Local transportation is provided by Monterey–Salinas Transit. Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach provides connections to intercity train service in Salinas.

Notable people


Business leaders

  • Joseph Costello, businessman
  • Ingemar Henry Lundquist, inventor and mechanical engineer, most notable for inventing over-the-wire balloon angioplasty
  • Hugh W. Comstock, Carmel designer and builder
  • Michael J. Murphy Carmel builder and businessman


Researchers, scholars


  • Jerry Colangelo, head of U.S.A. Basketball
  • Andrew Franks, NFL kicker
  • Atlee Hammaker, former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.
  • John Madden, football coach, TV sportscaster
  • Jim Nantz, sports broadcaster
  • Ryan Phinny, racing driver
  • Kerry Woodson, professional baseball player

Visual artists, designers

  • Ansel Adams, photographer
  • Gus Arriola, cartoonist
  • Wah Ming Chang, Hollywood artist, designer/sculptor, Oscar winner
  • Eldon Dedini, cartoonist
  • Eyvind Earle, artist, author, and illustrator
  • Arnold Genthe, photographer
  • Pauline Gibling Schindler, arts editor
  • Charles Sumner Greene, architect and artist
  • Paul Blaine Henrie, artist
  • Hank Ketcham, cartoonist
  • Xavier Martínez, painter
  • William Frederic Ritschel, painter
  • Esther Rose, Western artist
  • John Edward Walker (1880–1940) California Impressionist painter.
  • Edward Weston, photographer
  • Francis Whitaker, Carmel blacksmith artist, Forge in the Forest prior 1962
  • Steven Whyte, sculptor
  • Shirley Williamson (1875–1944) California Impressionist painter.

Writers, novelists, journalists


Images for kids

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