Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint touristy town with a beach that lies to the South of the SF Bay Area. We did a day trip on a recent weekend and it was good fun for the family.
Drive: The drive took about 2 hours from Santa Clara.
Food: The town had lots of restaurants and beer places. It had a nice European feel with outdoor dining. But due to COVID we decided not to risk it and instead drove to nearby Del Monte Shopping Center which has lots of sandwich, pizza and fast food options to have food to go and eat in our car. It also has restrooms in every building, so useful when traveling with kids.
See: The entire touristy area of the town is laid out in a 5x5 street grid. It is mostly filled with all sorts of quaint art, craft and painting stores and studios, along with restaurants. It is quite nice to walk around this grid and look at stuff and buy something artsy for decorating the home. At the periphery of this grid are the lodges and hotels for tourists staying overnight.
Carmel beach: A beautiful beach lies to the West of the town, a short drive away. There is parking right next to the beach, but we had to drive around quite a bit on this summer Sunday afternoon to find an empty spot. The beach is quite big and the fine white sand is really nice. The sand is good for kids to play with sand toys. The water here has a beautiful green-blue color and is clear. The water is cold though, as the Pacific usually is at this latitude. We found some folks with surfboards using the waves. Though the sand was warm, since it was summer, the breeze from the ocean was a bit chilly.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a perfect day trip for folks living in the SF Bay Area.