Your fairy-tale vacation awaits at Carmel-by-the-Sea

The 1-square-mile village boasts winding roads, storybook cottages and village style living with amazing ocean views

In a Northern California city south of Monterey lies a quaint town with fairy-tale vibes and a European feel.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a 1-square-mile village nestled along the coast that’s crafted with winding roads, storybook cottages and village style living with amazing ocean views.

According to See Monterey, it has more restaurants per capita than any other small city in America, making it the ideal destination for those who want to experience different cuisines. With many eateries around, you won’t find a single chain restaurant in sight.

If you’re looking for a fairy-tale escape, downtown has 41 secret passageways and courtyards to explore, each offering unique shops, restaurants, activities and galleries.

The scenic town is more than just a hidden gem for locals and small-town vacation seekers, celebrities also love this coastal hot spot.

Brad Pitt purchased the $40 million D.L. James House; actor and producer Clint Eastwood was the smalltown’s mayor in 1986 and still lives in the area; and Hollywood “it” girls Betty White and Doris Day once called it home.

Before planning your enchanted getaway, there is one major rule that’s important for those who love to wear high heels. According to, you need a permit to wear heels higher than 2 inches. Permits are available at no charge at City Hall.

Here are three things to do to help jumpstart your vacation.

Foxy Couture Carmel

This luxury consignment shop first opened in 2021 by Susan Glavin, who’s succeeded in bringing one-of-a-kind pieces to locals and tourists. It’s the perfect shopping experience for those wanting a statement piece — whether it be a pair of shoes, handbag, dress, stunning jewelry, pin or more — for a great price.

Chez Noir

With plenty of eateries around, it’s hard to find the perfect place to start. If you’re in the mood for cuisine inspired by France and northern Spain, Chez Noir opened in 2023 and has earned a Michelin star.


The Sunset Center is home to many artistic ventures, including Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, the Smuin Ballet and other acts.

If you’re a fan of live theater, the Outdoor Forest and Pacific Repertory Theater are a must visit, having presented “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Wizard of Oz” and other iconic shows.

For those wanting to explore the historic roots of the town, there are plenty of walking tours that explore 25 locations from coffee shops, antique shops, hotels, architecture and history.