5 Best Photo Opportunities in Carmel

Photo Opportunities Carmel

Lee Van Grack

Scenic Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. sandwiched between the grandeur of Big Sur to the south and Monterey to the north, is a picturesque enclave of small funky cottages, grand art galleries and world-class restaurants. It is the perfect spot for a romantic honeymoon, a fun family vacation or a girls' relaxing spa getaway. And with so many beautiful landscapes around you, it's not hard to find photo opportunities -- Carmel is bursting with them.

First, some Carmel travel tips. The town is small by most standards, with a population of only a few thousand. It has a moderate climate with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, so pack some layers whatever time of year you travel. Photography is only one of many possible activities to engage in while you are here. You should also check local listings for art and music festivals, car shows and theater events. For an insight into local news and a good laugh, read the Carmel Pine Cone.

Take your time walking along Carmel's quaint streets looking out for the best photo ops, and wander into the art galleries housing magnificent works from local artists. If you bring your furry, four-legged family member, you'll be pleased to learn that Carmel is dog friendly, even allowing off-leash romping on Carmel City Beach, provided Fido obeys voice commands. There will surely be some great photo opportunities involving dogs and children running freely over the beach.

Almost everything in Carmel is within walking distance, although the hills can be a bit steep. A note to women (who might be thankful): there is a law against high heels!

These are the 5 best photo opportunities in Carmel you won't want to miss.

1. The Best Romantic Photo in Carmel: Scenic Road Beach

Unless you want company, skip the crowds at the beach at the bottom of Ocean Avenue. Instead, for the most romantic beach spot, grab a bottle of wine, a few plastic glasses and a blanket, and take a walk down Ocean Avenue, turning left when you get to Scenic Road.

After two or three blocks, you will see stone steps on your right inviting you down to the beach. There, you can lie on your blanket and drink a toast to your love, while you watch the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean and listen to the crashing surf. Take as many pictures as you want of this fantastic Carmel landscape. You don't have to be an expert in travel photography to bring home the perfect shot of paradise.

2. The Best Quirky Photo in Carmel: Lamp Lighter Inn

Wander through the lush greenery at the Lamp Lighter Inn & Sunset House Suites on the southeast corner of Ocean Avenue and Camino Real. This beautiful photography landscape is filled with wooden birdhouses of all shapes, colors and sizes (some of which hide music speakers), as well as a wooden gazebo and a modern outdoor fireplace.

Take a picture by one of the birdhouses or seated in the gazebo right before sunset. You might even be invited to try some wine and cheese if you time it right!

3. The Best Family Fun Photo in Carmel: Hog's Breath Inn

Locals come to the renowned Hog's Breath Inn at San Carlos between Fifth and Sixth Streets to sit in front of one of the outdoor fireplaces and warm up on a foggy day. Meanwhile, tourists gather in the hope of catching a glimpse of actor and former mayor, Clint Eastwood, who previously owned this joint.

The kids will giggle at the real hog's head on the wall in the main bar area and adults will love the feeling that you are in some sort of urban "Pirates of the Caribbean" landscape while you sip your hot toddy and gaze at the stars overhead. Feel free to get up close for the best photo of Carmel's infamous hog's head. If you touch it, beware. It's real, and it's not as soft as it looks.

For reservations or information, call the Hog's Breath Inn at 831-625-1044.

4. The Best Scenic Photo in Carmel: Houses on Scenic Road

It is impossible to find a place in Carmel that is not truly scenic, but by far the best place is a short walk from town along the windy, and aptly named, Scenic Road. This provides possibly the best photo opportunities in Carmel.

The houses along the water look like they are straight out of a fairy tale, with crooked roofs, winding paths and names like "Tinkerbell's Cottage." As you head toward the stone house on the corner, built by Frank Lloyd Wright, turn around to see the expansive majesty of the white sand beach, the green grass and photographic landscape of the Pebble Beach Golf Club, and the orange-red sun as it vanishes into the dark blue sea on the horizon.

Take a picture from any angle here, but be sure to catch the sun before it disappears. It's truly a magical place for the best photo of Carmel's beautiful sunset.

5. The Best Classic Photo in Carmel: Pebble Beach Resort

Walk around the swanky digs of the Pebble Beach Resort and then, if you can, head out on the famed golf course to take in the sweeping views of rocky cliffs and the deep blue Pacific.

Imagine the countless golfers whose fortune has been made or broken on this course over the years and keep your eye out for photo opportunities while summoning your inner Jack Nicklaus and imagining you're about to take a swing for that championship shot. Then, tell all your friends you are moving to Carmel and thinking of starting a new career -- in travel photography, of course.

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