Carmel for the Holidays

Words by Kendall Levison

Photos by Courtesy of

Even on the greyest day, Carmel-by-the-Sea has a storybook charm. That feeling intensifies during the holidays, and while the coastal village won’t be awash in snow or ice in the next few months, it’s a surprisingly perfect place for a yuletide getaway. We know this time of year can be busy, so we’re hoping we can give PUNCH readers enough notice to plan ahead for a fun escape. Few places in our area have retained their timeless quality like Carmel, so to capture the essence of holiday traditions, we’ve rounded up the best things to do, places to go and events to attend through the New Year.

The season officially kicks off with the 48th Annual Homecrafters Marketplace, always held the week before Thanksgiving. Perfect for people who don’t want to wait until Black Friday to start their holiday shopping, the marketplace features nearly 100 vendors from Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties selling their own handmade crafts and artwork. Each has been subjected to a jury panel for selection, ensuring high-quality goods and a wide range of unique offerings. Last year’s vendors sold everything from fine jewelry to homemade candy, so you should be able to find a gift for at least a few people on your list. The marketplace will be held on November 17 from 9AM to 3PM in the north lot of the Sunset Center located on 8th Avenue between San Carlos and Mission Streets. Find more information at

Next on the calendar is the Carmel Heritage Society’s 20th Annual Inns of Distinction Tour, which highlights some of the village’s most beautiful inns and hotels, all decked out in their holiday finery. As you walk through town and learn about each site’s history, you can enjoy light bites and wine tastings provided by local restaurants and wineries. If you’ve only ever spent the day in Carmel, this tour is the perfect way to experience all of the historic hotels downtown, without having to book a room yourself. The event takes place on December 8 this year; to get tickets, call the Heritage Society at 831.624.4447 or email

Carmel’s history stretches back to the late 19th century, when artists followed the lead of Jules Tavernier, the San Francisco Art Association and Bohemian Club member who had established a studio and home on the Monterey Peninsula. Eventually, Frank Devendorf and Frank Powers formed the art colony that became Carmel-by-the-Sea, and by 1910, census records indicate that over half the homes in Carmel were owned by someone pursuing a career in the arts. Three years ago, a group of local artists spearheaded by Joaquin Turner decided to highlight this bit of history with an event that showcases artists still living and working in Carmel. The Carmel Art Walk, which will be held on November 17 and again on December 8, includes over 15 artist-owned galleries. Starting at 4PM, visitors and locals alike gather on Dolores Street between 5th and 6th Avenues to start the walk, but since each gallery has brochures that feature a map, you can feel free to split off and explore on your own. You can learn more about the walk and each of the participating galleries at