Posted by marilynch
Bicycling Carmel, including Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley HER Helmet Thursdays spots
Along with Carmel tips, this post highlights the vicinity’s first HER Helmet Thursdays spots. Scroll to the end of this post to see a list of the first places in Carmel-by-the-Sea/Carmel and Carmel Valley that give Thursday discounts to males and females who bike!
Preparation: Brush up on riding skills, safety tips, and California bike laws. Also, Carmel weather fluctuations–as with most of Monterey County’s weather–mean dressing in layers will best assure you stay comfy.
New to biking the Carmel area? Consider a bicycle tour or guided ride.
Share the Road, Share the Joy:
Pics and Tips for
Pedal-Pushing in Carmel
The majority of the tips below are about Carmel-by-the-Sea and Mouth of the (Carmel) Valley.
For your ease of referral, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Mouth of the Valley, Carmel Valley, and Carmel Valley Village HER Helmet Thursdays spots are all highlighted at the end of this web page.
And just fyi, most longtime locals mean Carmel Valley Village when they refer to “The Village” (most would not use that term in reference to Carmel-by-the-Sea).
- Australian harpsichord maker Cary Beebe brings his bicycle to Carmel annually to get around town–as well as around the county–while he’s attending the Carmel Bach Festival, which is a HER Helmet Thursdays participant. See why Carey bikes!
- Biking downtown Carmel in the early morning means you’ll beat the traffic and can more easily get oriented to the town. Stop in for a java boost or other nourishment at Carmel Coffee, or have breakfast at Carmel Belle or another extra bike-friendly spot.
- Biking Carmel-by-the-Sea’s residential neighborhoods, rather than driving, better allows viewing the architecture, gardens, and other charming features up close.
- Want help finding Comstock and Frank Lloyd Wright houses? Stop by and chat with the volunteers at the Carmel Visitor Information Center. Or bike to the local independent Pilgrim’s Way bookstore–a landmark since 1969–and ask questions of Paul and Cynthia, or just relax awhile in their Secret Garden.
- Cycling chic fashionistas and others flock to Carmel to enjoy the unique clothing boutiques and other shops. Check these shopping-by-bike tips. Besides shopping in Carmel-by-the-Sea, shoppers delight in the stores at the mouth of Carmel Valley: Barnyard Shopping Village, Carmel Rancho and Carmel Rancho II, and the Crossroads (see mouth-of-the-valley tips below).
- Eco Carmel offers educational tips on sustainable living–and discounts on Thursdays if you bike there.
- Prefer to chill while your companions shop til they drop? Bike over to De Tierra Vineyards Tasting Room or Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room, two of Monterey County’s extra bike-friendly wineries. If it’s a Thursday, you’ll get discounts.
- Seasonally, Carmel has a farmers market; check farmers marketing by bike tips.
- Biking to the beach, including to Carmel River Beach, means easy parking even when it’s a busy weekend. Carmel Beach, easily located at the foot of Ocean Avenue, is a popular destination. From there, biking Scenic Drive to Carmel River Beach is a favorite ride for coastal views. See photos below. (As mentioned in Signs of a Bicycling Friendly Monterey County, plans are underway to make more room on Scenic for bicycling. The county plans to make Scenic Road from just south of Martin Way to Carmel River State Beach one way.)
- Scenic has no bike lanes and isn’t recommended for young children biking on their own two wheels. But little ones do bike in Carmel; there are quiet streets where they can practice their bike skills, with supervision. Check out these little Carmel cyclists.
- Mouth-of-the-valley: The Class I (off-road) bike path between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road (pictured below) is helpful to touring cyclists and local bike commuters alike. And for travelers who brought bikes–or rent them–this mouth-of-the-valley bike path also makes a handy stop where children weary of being in the car can get out and safely show off their bike skills. (Of course, the same is true for local kids who’ve grown tired of accompanying their parents around on errands–and are begging for a fun reprieve!)
- Mouth-of-the-valley: Near the Class I mouth-of-the-valley path are plenty of restaurants, a health food store (Cornucopia), bookstores, and supermarkets, as well as a variety of retail shops and other businesses. There are picnic tables along the bike path too (see below).
- If you’re heading out Carmel Valley, the new South Bank Trail is a 1.5 mile Class I bike path along the Carmel River, another excellent choice for a bike outing with children.
- Are you an avid cyclist biking all the way to Carmel Valley Village? Here’s a special HER Helmet Thursdays tip: The Spa at Bernardus Lodge (near Laureles Grade) gives their HHT discount seven days a week! (And there are great HHT spots for lodging and dining en route to and in Carmel Valley Village too. Look for the CV addresses in the listings!)
- The streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea quiet down again in the evening. Biking in the dark has its own special pleasures. Wear some high-visibility apparel, charge up your bike lights, and enjoy another ride in the downtown area–where it’s especially fun to window shop the art galleries at night. Be sure to have a detachable light when you lock up your bike to safely walk about too, because part of Carmel’s charm is the absence of typical city streetlights.
- Are you a touring cyclist with pricey gear attached to your bike that’s a hassle to unload? Don’t hesitate to stop and dine or have drinks in Carmel. There are many Carmel participants in HER Helmet Thursdays, and these include spots like Carmel Belle and PortaBella with outdoor seating options that make it especially to keep an eye on a pricey bike.
- Looking for a place for food, drinks, or musical entertainment–that stays open late? Mundaka is one of the extra bike-friendly spots that remains open later than most Carmel places.
- Wondering about Point Lobos? You are welcome to bike the roads, then hike the trails.
- At Garland Ranch Regional Park, there is limited mountain bike riding in the Cooper Ranch area. Check with Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District for any updates.
- Wanting to try someplace new? “Best New Restaurant of Monterey County for 2013,” as voted by Monterey County Weekly readers, is nestled in Carmel on Junipero between 5th and 6th: HER Helmet Thursdays participant la Balena.
- And for 2013, the Weekly’s readers voted HER Helmet Thursdays participant Grasing’s as Best Restaurant in Carmel.
You may also wish to refer to the 20-section Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide. As usual, another option is to type “Carmel” in this site’s search window and comb over what pops up. Or, simply contact me or other bike community leaders with your questions.
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A Class I (off-road) bike path makes biking between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road safe and easy!
Want to see a bike path like that all the way from Carmel Valley Road to the Highway 1 Carpenter Street exit? Click here.
10/16/13 update: Click here for Carmel bike infrastructure updates from Sara Rubin in the Monterey County Weekly.
And click here for 7/21/15 update on Bicycling Monterey.
Click on image below to enlarge the text, and learn about Carmel bike infrastructure progress.
For more about Monterey County bicycle infrastructure, check this site’s Local Bike News section and also refer to the infrastructure contacts on the Bicycle Shops, Services, Clubs, and Resources page.
Both are located at the mouth of Carmel Valley,
just off Highway 1 between Carmel Valley Road & Rio Road.
Hungry, and want to eat out-of-doors today?
Picnic tables along the bike path make it easy to bring goodies from nearby Cornucopia Community Market to enjoy a casual meal.
Another option for picnicking is take-out from HER Helmet Thursdays spots in the neighboring Barnyard Shopping Village, Carmel Rancho, and the Crossroads. These popular nearby eateries include Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria, Bagel Bakery, From Scratch, Hola by the Sea, Island Taco, r. g. Burgers, and the Rio Grill. Details on all are in the HER Helmet Thursdays listings.
r.g. Burgers and Island Taco are at the Crossroads
Point Lobos view from Carmel River Beach
On Scenic, heading from Carmel River Beach to Carmel Beach.
Visitor’s perspective on cycling Monterey to Carmel and back
I often tell visitors who ask “Why bike?” that bicycling really is the best way to see this area. Don’t just take my word for it though.
“Cycling is the best way to see Monterey and Carmel,” Jody Brooks reports, writing on June 8, 2010 of the tour he and his wife had just enjoyed. Check out Jody’s report, “Cycling Monterey to Carmel and Back,” published on the Plan Bike website.
Some people, as did Daniel Grün of Germany, like to make that a one-way trip, then take a bike-and-ride option for the return. Daniel rented a bicycle and biked from Monterey to Carmel, via Pebble Beach. Happy but tired, he made use of the Monterey-Salinas Transit/MST bus for the return trip; see tips on taking your bike aboard the MST in the bike-and-ride section.
The Constables of the Peace in Carmel-by-the-Sea are among the many residents who know the wisdom of bike-and-ride options, including simply a bike rack on your own vehicle.
Carmel has streets that are quiet at certain times of day, and there, under supervision, children can learn to become streetwise.
Special tips for traveling with a canine friend
All over Monterey County, there are plenty of dog-loving cyclists. And those who are visitors are especially happy to learn of resources like the following:
- The SPCA of Monterey County lists pet-friendly lodging providers.
- Animal Friends Rescue Project offers a resource list of area kennels.
- The SPCA also lists pet-friendly recreation areas, including which beaches allow leashed dogs–and which allow them to run free, like Carmel Beach!
Carmel–A Dog-Lovers’ Haven
“Best Restaurant in Carmel for 2013,” as voted by Monterey County Weekly readers, is Grasing’s. And true to many residents–and visitors–preference, on sunny days, you can enjoy dinner outdoors on the pet-friendly patio.
Lanee Lee’s story, “Strolling Through California’s Canine Riviera,” points out the extra dog-friendly nature of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Included in the dog-friendly spots she lists are some extra bike-friendly spots too: HER Helmet Thursdays project participants–places that give discounts on Thursdays just because you bike in Monterey County.
Dog-friendly and bike-friendly: HER Helmet Thursdays spots in Lanee Lee’s story
There are nearly 200 other places that give discounts to local and visiting cyclists on Thursdays, year-round, in Carmel and throughout Monterey County. Check out all these extra bike-friendly hotels, educational and entertainment venues, restaurants, wineries, and more: See the HER Helmet Thursdays listings.
HHT spot Le St. Tropez, known for its warm hospitality and delicious food–including
gluten-free options–counts many lovely galleries among its neighbors.
“Sounds like we ought to bike in Carmel next!”
This couple had a comfy fabric pup-carrier on her bike, in Monterey.
Biking with your dog does require a bit of extra effort. Remember to rein that pup in so you can follow the kids’ good lead, staying in the proper lane.
In South Salinas, you’ll often see this gentleman biking with his two dogs, as shown by Juan Villa in the Salinas Californian on 10/2/15.
Ever since he was a little boy and the training wheels came off his first bicycle, this young man in Seaside has loved riding. His dog makes a fun companion, such as on night rides like this one in October 2015.
Mouth of the Valley,
Carmel Valley, and
Carmel Valley Village
HER Helmet Thursdays spots, as of 24 November 2014,
are highlighted below.
For additions or changes, please refer to the most up-to-date information
- 400° Gourmet Burgers & Fries
- Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria
- Bagel Bakery
- Café Rustica
- Café Stravaganza
- Cantinetta Luca
- Carmel Bach Festival
- Carmel Belle
- Carmel Coffee
- Carmel Mission Inn
- Carmel River Inn
- Cima Collina Tasting Room
- Corkscrew Cafe
- Courtside Bistro at Chamisal Tennis and Fitness
- Cypress Inn
- De Tierra Vineyards Tasting Room
- Eco Carmel
- Em Le’s
- Forest Lodge
- Forge in the Forest
- From Scratch
- Heller Estate Organic Vineyards
- Hofsas House Hotel
- Island Taco
- Lamplighter Inn
- Le St. Tropez
- Los Laureles Lodge
- Lugano Swiss Bistro
- Merlot Bistro
- Plaza Linda Restaurant & Cantina
- r.g. Burgers
- Rio Grill
- Rosie’s Country Store
- Running Iron Restaurant & Saloon
- Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room
- Spa at Bernardus Lodge
- Stirrup Cup Pizza
- Terry’s at the Cypress Inn
- Trailside Cafe & Beer Garden
- Wickets at Bernardus Lodge
- Will’s Fargo Dining House & Saloon