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Bicycling Carmel: Traveling with Fido, and Other Tips

Preparation:  Brush up on California bike laws and safety tips.  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

Avid cyclist CRB to CB - cropped 6 June 2011 Carmel 016

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).

Children Pausing at Corner - Carmel -  018

  1. Australian harpsichord maker Cary Beebe brings his bicycle to Carmel annually to get around town while he’s attending the Carmel Bach Festival.   See why Carey bikes!
  2. 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.
  3. Biking Carmel-by-the-Sea’s residential neighborhoods, rather than driving, better allows viewing the architecture, gardens, and other charming features up close.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Eco Carmel offers educational tips on sustainable living–and discounts on Thursdays if you bike there.
  7. 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.
  8. Seasonally, Carmel has a farmers market; check farmers marketing by bike tips.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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.
  11. 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!)
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. 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!)
  15. 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.
  16. 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 businesses in HER Helmet Thursdays, and these include spots like Jack London’s and PortaBella where it is especially to keep an eye on a pricey bike.
  17. 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.
  18. Wondering about Point Lobos?  You are welcome to bike the roads, then hike the trails.
  19. 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:  la Balena.
  20. And for 2013, the Weekly’s readers voted 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.

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.

There are not one but two Carmel bicycle shops!

Both are located at the mouth of Carmel Valley,

just off Highway 1 between Carmel Valley Road & Rio Road.

Carmel Bicycle

Bay Bikes

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
Biking Carmel Highlands

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.

Or, bike-and-ride

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.

Got Fido?

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:

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

Grasing’s and 400° Gourmet Burgers & Fries are two more HER Helmet Thursdays spots in Carmel that have dog-friendly patios.

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.

Where are some extra bike-friendly downtown Carmel places? Among others are HHT charter participants Cantinetta Luca, Carmel BelleMerlot Bistro, and…

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.

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.

Need a custom bike or specialty service?  Monterey County not only has some of the best, we even have a master craftsman, and racer, who is clearly dog-friendly:  Joseph Crabtree at Forest Hill Bike Shop.
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
 on the HER Helmet Thursdays Listings and FAQs page.
  1. 400° Gourmet Burgers & Fries
  2. Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria
  3. Bagel Bakery
  4. Café Rustica
  5. Café Stravaganza
  6. Cantinetta Luca
  7. Carmel Bach Festival
  8. Carmel Belle
  9. Carmel Coffee
  10. Carmel Mission Inn
  11. Carmel River Inn
  12. Cima Collina Tasting Room
  13. Corkscrew Cafe
  14. Courtside Bistro at Chamisal Tennis and Fitness
  15. Cypress Inn
  16. De Tierra Vineyards Tasting Room
  17. Eco Carmel
  18. Em Le’s
  19. Forest Lodge
  20. Forge in the Forest
  21. From Scratch
  22. Grasing’s
  23. Heller Estate Organic Vineyards
  24. Hofsas House Hotel
  25. Island Taco
  26. Jack London’s Neighborhood Pub & Grill
  27. laBalena
  28. Lamplighter Inn
  29. Le St. Tropez
  30. Los Laureles Lodge
  31. Merlot Bistro
  32. Mundaka
  33. Plaza Linda Restaurant & Cantina
  34. PortaBella
  35. r.g. Burgers
  36. Rio Grill
  37. Rosie’s Country Store
  38. Running Iron Restaurant & Saloon
  39. Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room
  40. Spa at Bernardus Lodge
  41. Stirrup Cup Pizza
  42. Terry’s at the Cypress Inn
  43. Trailside Cafe & Beer Garden
  44. Wickets at Bernardus Lodge
  45. Will’s Fargo Dining House & Saloon

  1. Marilynch,
    As a regular visitor to Pacific Grove since 1963 I can attest that there is no finer way to see the peninsula than by bike. You have captured the essence of how and why cycling is so enjoyable for both transportation and recreation. Thanks for providing your site.

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