Point Lobos State Reserve
As far as the best sightseeing in Carmel, California goes, the most fun might be Point Lobos is a gorgeous state park that juts into the Pacific. It’s located just south of Carmel, entailing just a five minute drive down Pacific Coast Highway. After parking, grab a map from the visitors center and take one of several short trails that end at vistas overlooking coves with names like Bluefish, Whalers and The Pit. One of the most popular hikes is on Cypress Grove Trail - a flat, easy trail that leads through coastal shrubbery and pretty cypress groves to end up looking over stunning cliffs at the crashing emerald water sand sandy white beaches below.
Look out for sea lions and other wildlife and remember to bring a sweatshirt as it can get pretty chilly here when the fog rolls in, even in the summer. Also, Cypress Grove trail is flat enough for small kids and strollers.
Peppoli and Pebble Beach
A great place to see a sunset while enjoying a romantic dinner is at Peppoli Restaurant in Pebble Beach. Peppoli offers delicious Italian fare. What’s more enjoyable than eating a hearty Italian meal, sipping on wine and sharing views of a majestic sunset over the Pacific with your love - or even your whole family? Peppoli is located on 17-Mile Road, north of the town of Pebble Peach and about a 25-minute drive from Carmel.
Locals rate Carmel Beach as the best spot to watch a sunset. So pack a picnic and head to this peaceful beach for an afternoon in the sun followed by a sunset lunch. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a pod of porpoises swimming close to the coast. But if not, watching the red-orange sun set over cerulean waters with your toes in the sand should not disappoint! This long stretch of beach will make it easy to find some privacy. There are several access points just off of Scenic Road near downtown Carmel.
This narrow winding road along the Carmel Coast is aptly named: A combination of factors on Scenic Road provide excellent views. There are many luxurious - though not ostentatious - homes lining the road with lush landscaping and beachy touches. You can also catch a glimpse of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Clinton Walker House and some wavy-roofed thatched houses by architect Hugh Comstock, which almost look like English countryside cottages. Stroll here while looking at the homes and the water as the sun is setting - a truly gorgeous view.
Garrapata State Park
This state park to the south is another awesome spot for beautiful vistas. There are several trails for hiking - some of them quite steep - but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking ocean views and plenty of opportunities to see coastal wildflowers. Even on a foggy day, the views of the mountains here can’t be beat. Drive about 5 miles on Pacific Coast Highway before turning left on San Remo Road and driving a twisty 2.5 miles up to the visitor center and trailheads.