When you think of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you probably picture the beautiful beaches, rolling meadows, and towering redwood trees. While there’s no shortage of incredible scenery, one of the hidden treasures of Carmel is the rich culture and heritage waiting to be explored. For those looking to learn more about the art, ecology, and history of the area, we’ve put together a list of the most popular museums near Carmel, CA.
Note: Highway 1 washed out about 30+ miles south of Big Sur as a result of the fires this summer. However, taking the drive to the Monterey area is still well worth it! In fact, all of Big Sur is accessible from the north and a 1/2 day trip from Carmel Valley is still a great option!
Carmel Mission Basilica
Built in 1797, Mission San Carlos de Carmelo is one of Carmel’s top attractions. While the Basilica is still an active parish, it also contains four museum galleries rife with historical information and beautiful works of art. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy the serene gardens and unique architecture of this historical monument.
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
For those interested in learning more about the natural beauty of Monterey County, visit the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. Their permanent exhibits feature wildflowers, birds, mammals, and more. Their Monarch Sanctuary (located approximately 10 blocks down from the museum) is one of the largest overwintering sites in the country. Those fortunate enough to visit between November and February can witness these beautiful butterflies take wing in their natural habitat.
Monterey Museum of Art
Featuring an eclectic mix of classic and modern works, the Monterey Museum of Art is a feast for the eyes. Visitors will find themselves enchanted by the paintings, photographs, and contemporary artworks that spread across the museum’s seven galleries. Their permanent and temporary collections all have one common goal; the celebration of California’s incredible art and heritage.
Tor House and Hawk Tower
Overlooking the incredible coastlines at Carmel Point, you’ll find Tor House and Hawk Tower. These two structures were home to American poet Robinson Jeffers, who took inspiration from the enchanting scenery of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The tour guides at Tor House will share the rich background of Jeffers’ life, and perhaps recite a few lines of his work along the way, allowing you to see Carmel through the eyes of one of it’s most famed residents.
Point Pinos Lighthouse
The oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast, Point Pinos has served as a beacon for weary sailors since 1855. The lighthouse now serves as a museum, allowing visitors to learn about the nautical history of the area and appreciate the pristine preservation of its structure.
Once you’ve finished exploring all the art, heritage, and history that the Monterey Peninsula has to offer, come back and recharge at Carmel Valley Lodge. Enjoy the serenity of our beautiful 3-acre grounds, take a dip in the pool, and retire to one of our luxurious guest rooms or cozy cottages.