Carmel VS Monterey: Find the Best Vacation Destination

Who doesn’t want a serene city to visit? But we get that you might get confused to choose the best one. When it comes to choosing cities like Carmel and Monterey, getting confused is normal

So, which is better, Carmel vs Monterey?

The land area of Carmel is 2.75 km² whereas Monterey is 12.27 km². The beach length of Carmel is 6.4 km. However, Monterey is 49.3887 km which is larger than Carmel. But the lowest average staying cost at Carmel is 94$ per night. Whereas the lowest average cost in Monterey is 110$ which is higher.

Still being confused is common. So, we dug deeper to assist you in decision-making. By reading the article you’ll get an in-depth idea.

So, let’s get started without any delay.

Quick Comparison

California’s two interesting visiting points are Carmel and Monterey. Both are located in Monterey county. But, each city has a different type of serene feeling and beautiful sights.

Speaking of beautiful sights, the USA has thousands of them. Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are two of them. People get confused to choose either the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. 

With that said, Carmel and Monterey are also so beautiful that it makes you confused. We need to differentiate each characteristic of the cities. Let’s see a quick comparison of Carmel and Monterey.

Differentiating FactorsCarmelMonterey
Area Size2.75 km²12.27 km²
Beach Length6.4 km49.3887 km
Hiking Trails1511
Lowest Hotel Cost94$ per night110$ per night

This is the quick comparison you need. However, this information isn’t enough to choose the ultimate vacation destination. So, in the next section, we did a comparative in-depth analysis of both cities.

So, let’s jump right into the next section!

In-Depth Analysis

In this in-depth analysis, we will compare the beautiful sights of Carmel and Monterey. Each sight will offer a different type of experience.

We also will discuss budget and hotel accommodations. You will get insight into every detail that matters for a relaxing vacation.

Comparing two cities based on these topics are important. Just like comparing Santa Fe with Taos will give you a brief idea about each city.

So, let’s begin the in-depth analysis.

Area Size

An important aspect to consider is the size of the city area. Because it is a no-brainer that a large city will offer you many sights.

Carmel, also known as Carmel-by-the-sea is 2.75 km². 

On the other hand, Monterey is 12.27 km². It is almost 6 times larger than Carmel. So, the offerings, sites, and landmarks are more available in Monterey than in Carmel.

Beach Length

Who doesn’t like a less crowded beach? If the beach is not crowded, then it will be more pleasing. For this reason, beach length is an important factor.

So, Carmel has a 6.4 km long beach.

However, Monterey has a larger beach than Carmel which is 49.3887km long. Monterey will offer a better beach experience as it will be less crowded than Carmel.


Hotel Accommodations

One of the main things to look at is hotel accommodations. The cost of the hotel matters too. Also, accessibility to different sights from the hotel matters.

Famous Carmel hotels are located near the beach. You can choose from 1005 properties in Carmel. The lowest average price is 94$ per night.

Let’s have a look at some of the best hotels in Carmel:

Pine InnBanquet room, Newspaper, Meeting rooms, Free breakfast, free parking, Wake-up serviceReserve Today!
Comfort Inn Carmel By the SeeFree Parking, Free breakfast, Baggage storage, Free High speed internetReserve Today!
Carmel Wayfarer InnPublic Parking, Pet Friendly, Outdoor fireplace, Non-smoking hotel, Free breakfastReserve Today!
Carmel Inn & SuitsFree breakfast, free parking, Non-smoking hotel, Express check-in, SuitesReserve Today!

Pick your restaurant of choice!

Nevertheless, you can choose a hotel from 945 properties which are lower than Carmel. And the lowest average cost of staying at the hotel is 110$ per night. The cost of hotel accommodations in Monterey is higher than Carmel’s.


A city’s biggest identity is its landmarks. It is a mixture of emotions, history, and sight to experience. 

Carmel has 18 landmarks that you can visit. Some best landmarks are given below.

Fairytale Cottages

Fairytale Cottages are wonderful spots to visit. The village is located in Northern California, off the coast of Carmel. It’s about an hour and a half drive south of San Francisco.


Carmel’s quirky, fairytale cottages may be found throughout the town. The origins of these cottages may be traced back to 1920. 

Hugh Comstock created the first of these cottages for his wife’s successful felt doll business. Then he went on to build several additional cottages for the town’s citizens.

Hugh Comstock’s original cottages are still standing in Carmel. You’ll also notice how his designs have affected the architecture of other homes.

Carmel Bakery

Visit Carmel Bakery, the oldest bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea! It was built in 1899 and is now Carmel’s oldest standing structure. Everything is available, including baked goods, coffee, German pretzels, pies, pasta, and appetizers.

PRO-TIP: Pack a picnic of baked goods and enjoy it at Carmel Beach. Because it’s only a 7-minute walk from the bakery to the beach!

The Pilgrim’s Way Community Bookstore and Secret Garden

The Pilgrim’s Way Community Bookstore & Secret Garden is Carmel’s last bookstore, for locals and visitors. The interior is full of trees and the selection of books is vast. You can enjoy a relaxing time there with books, nature, and a cup of coffee.

On the other hand, Monterey California has 30 landmarks. Which is more than Carmel-by-the-sea. Let’s see some of Monterey’s best landmarks.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world-class aquarium that is located in Monterey Bay itself. It’s one of Monterey’s most interesting attractions. You may see what life is like underwater rushing right outside the aquarium.

The best part of the aquarium is the open exhibition. You walk into a dimly lit area with soothing music and  90-foot windows to observe. There’s also a lounging space on the top floor. So, you may rest and relax for as long as you like!

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is a Monterey coastal boulevard featuring stores and restaurants. At the end of Monterey Bay Aquarium sits Cannery Row. So, the location of Cannery Row is very convenient.


The Pacific Fish Company, the first significant cannery, started in 1908. The final cannery, however, closed in 1973. Cannery Row is now a wonderful place to explore, buy, and dine.

Lovers Point Park

At the foot of 17th Street lies Lovers Point Park. It is a 4.4-acre beautiful community park.

Picnicking, fishing, swimming, water sports, and surfing are all popular activities. A big lawn area, a children’s swimming pool, etc. are the features at Lovers Point.

With this our in-depth analysis ends. Don’t forget to tick all the boxes of your vacation packing checklist! 

Other Honorable Mentions

If you love exploring wildfires, maybe you can poke your head around the Ryan forest carmel. Carmel Creek Elementary is a nearby school you can visit if you want to learn how the natives grow up around. 

Monterey’s Museum of Arts is a fantastic place to visit. You will never run out of options on things to do in Monterey.

Which One is the Best Vacation Destination?

Now comes the most important thing. Between Carmel vs Monterey of California , which one is better?

Well, it is indeed that both cities are great. However, for a budget-friendly vacation, Carmel is a great place. Because hotel accommodation and almost all the sights are free of cost to see.

Yet Monterey will offer more sights to visit. Also, the place will be less crowded as the land area is larger than Carmel.

In the end, you should consider your mindset and budget to choose the best city. No matter where you go, you will have a wonderful vacation!


Is It Against The Law to Wear Heels in Carmel, California?

Carmel’s municipal law prohibits wearing heels that are higher than 2 inches. So, you need special permission to use it while you are on vacation.

Is It Possible to Stroll Around Carmel?

Walking through Carmel’s well-kept streets and avenues is an unforgettable experience. Ocean Avenue is the major thoroughfare. The route runs from Highway 1 to Carmel Beach’s magnificent sands.

What is the Temperature of the Ocean at Monterey?

The water temperature in Monterey does not exceed 68°F across the year. As a result, it is unsuitable for swimming. In the winter, the average water temperature in Monterey is 55.4°F.


This concludes our topic of Carmel vs Monterey. Here’s a pro tip, you can visit both cities within days. So, you can plan accordingly.

Take Care!

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