When you and your family need a break from fast-paced life, it’s time to head to the Californian coast. In northwestern California, along the Monterey Peninsula, there are several popular beach towns and communities. One of the most popular and well-known spots for an extended weekend or week-long getaway is the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Accordingly, the area is also home to other nearby towns with their own sense of flair. Book a stay at a vacation rental in Carmel-by-the-Sea today. Check out the most scenic points of interest in and around the lovely community of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

1. Carmel-by-the-Sea

carmel sea
Source: Flickr/Harvey Barrison

In Carmel-by-the-Sea, you and your family can wander the streets of this artistic village designed to resemble a European village. Enjoy an afternoon of shopping, visiting art galleries, and enjoy gourmet meals in the downtown area. To learn more about California’s history and Spanish influence, stop by the Carmel Mission Basilica with its stunning ceilings and 5-foot thick walls. On the second Saturday of each month, join the throngs for the Carmel Art Walk, where you meet artists, see new works, and learn more about the area’s history as an artists enclave.

2. Carmel Highlands

carmel highlands
Source: Flickr/Kunal Mukherjee

Leaving Carmel-by-the-Sea behind and driving south along the Pacific Ocean, you quickly arrive in the town of Carmel Highlands that offers more modest vacation rentals with more room for your family to spread out. Spend your days hiking, playing on the beach, and communing with nature when you visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Rent bicycles from Bay Bikes and ride up the coast and around town to enjoy the stunning scenery. Meander through downtown and window shop or pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.

3. Pebble Beach

lonely cypress
Source: Flickr/Petruha

North of Carmel-by-the-Sea sits the popular community of Pebble Beach. While staying in the area, take your family out to the Lone Cypress on this overlook to the ocean an iconic lone cypress stands sentry. Load the family in the car for breathtaking scenery on the 17-Mile Drive as it runs along the California coastline. Pack your golf clubs and spend a few days on the links at the Pebble Beach Golf Club with holes that overlook the Pacific Ocean.

4. Del Monte Forest Area

forest
Source: Flickr/chripell

Choose a vacation rental in the Del Monte Forest area to avoid the crowds and save a little money on a more modest home. While not located on the beach, this area puts you in a prime spot to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea and some of the other communities for a day or afternoon. It’s also within easy driving distance of two golf course where you can get a couple holes in. At the S F B Morse Botanical Reserve, you and the family can spend an afternoon hiking and seeing the unique flora and fauna.

5. Pacific Grove

point pinos lighthouse
Source: Flickr/Pete Markham

While staying in Pacific Grove, take the family to the Lovers Point Park to enjoy the beach and some quality time together. Take a tour of the Point Pinos Lighthouse with its original lens. This historic light house dates back to 1850 and is the lighthouse with the longest record of continuous use in the West Coast of the United States. If it rains one day, pack up the kids for a day at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.

6. Monterey

Source: Pixabay/fridzema

Another popular tourist destination in the area is Monterey. Your kids will squeal in delight when you visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium with its various water habitat exhibits and touch tanks. On the way back, stop by Fisherman’s Wharf and pick up some fresh from the ocean to grill up back at your vacation rental. Enjoy an afternoon walking around Cannery Row with its unique shops and restaurants; who knows, you might find the perfect souvenir.

7. Sand City

sand city
Source: Flickr/Sergei Gussev

Wander along the California coast until you arrive in the small town of Sand City with a friendly laid back feel. Spend a day at Del Monte Beach where you can walk along the boardwalk through the protected sand dunes. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a meal together beside the sea. Hike through Jacks Peak Park and take plenty of pictures of the view. If you have a horse, this park allows horseback rides through the park.

8. Seaside

seaside
Source: Flickr/zemistor

Just a couple of miles inland behind Sand City is the town of Seaside where you can find a modest vacation rental to accommodate your budget. At Laguna Grande Regional Park, Monterey side, you and your family can get out on some fresh water on a kayak or a canoe. If you want to stay on land, sit on the bank and throw your line in the water.

9. Marina

marina
Source: Flickr/Justin Dolske

Drive north along Highway 1 to reach the coastal town of Marina. This city sits within minutes of the Fort Ord Dunes State Park, where you and your family can Follow the eight educational panels along the hiking path that’s on a wooden platform to the overlook point or hike down to the 4-mile stretch of pristine beaches to look for shells or fly a kite on a windy day.