Experiencing Carmel's Charms on the Cheap

Posted July 16, 2009 by Jamie Moore

CA-Carmel-CarmelMission-DEF Carmel's appeal stretches far beyond its white-sand beaches. Old-World treasures and modern-day gems are waiting in winding alleyways and rolling countryside. For $20 or less you can step into the simple life at an 18th-century mission, enjoy a pint with locals and canine companions, or pick up an artsy souvenir.

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Mission San Carlos Borromeo: Go back in time at an 18th-century Spanish mission, built long before California became the 31st state. If you're inclined, daily services are still held in the stone church, and sometimes accompanied by a choir. For those with a historical bent, self-guided or docent-led tours take you through the mission's 250-year history. It's even possible to see founder Father Serra's sleeping cell (sure to make you thankful for modern-day comforts). The most peaceful place is the courtyard, typically bursting with fragrant flowers. Sit back, soak up the sunshine, and contemplate a spiritual life for as little as $5 per person.

Drink
Terry's Lounge: What to do after running with Rover along Carmel's beautiful shoreline? Head to Terry's Lounge, a pet-friendly pub just blocks from the beach. Part of the charming old Cypress Inn, the lounge began welcoming furry friends when the Doris Day became part-owner 20 years ago. Today, locals bring their four-legged companions and exchange news over a pint of local brew. If you come on the weekend, martinis and gourmet burgers are served with a side of sweet jazz (water and biscuits for canines). 

Shop
Two Sisters Designs: Carmel's high-end stores are great for window-shopping, but for one-of-a-kind reasonably priced souvenirs, head to Two Sisters Designs. Hidden down one of Carmel's charming alleyways, this sister act has been creating eclectic keepsakes for 14 years. Get in on the goods with a funky, homemade bead necklace, or bring home some sunshine in a Two Sisters crystal sun-catcher. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but since it's also a working studio, the sisters are sometimes there outside regular hours. 

To search for flights and compare prices to San Jose, which is home to Carmel’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Nancy Nehring)

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