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Bicycling Carmel, including Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley HER Helmet Thursdays spots

Click here for the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County 20-section guide.

In 2022, among youth we’ve spotted navigating Monterey County streets by bicycle was this youth biking Carmel-by-the-Sea. He was observing safe riding practices as well as bike laws (e.g, More power to him—and others like him—getting about by active transportation that helps protect the beauty of our county.

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Below these Carmel tips (first published in 2012, with numerous subsequent updates) is a list of the vicinity’s first HER Helmet Thursdays spots—places that give Thursday discounts to people who help HER / Mother Earth by biking. Scroll to the end of this post to see a list of the first spots in Carmel / Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley.

 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, Carmel / mouth of the Valley, Carmel Valley, and Carmel Valley Village HER Helmet Thursdays spots are all highlighted at the end of this web page. Note that 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

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 that dressing in layers will best assure you stay comfy.


(Click on blue or bold black hyperlinked text for more details.)

  1. New to biking the Carmel area? Consider a bicycle tour or guided ride.
  2. Can you bike on sidewalks in Carmel? See “Confusion abounds: Biking on sidewalks, in Carmel and elsewhere in Monterey County.”
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Biking Carmel-by-the-Sea’s residential neighborhoods, rather than driving, better allows viewing the architecture, gardens, and other charming features up close.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. Eco Carmel offers educational tips on sustainable living–and discounts on Thursdays if you bike there.
  9. 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.
  10. Seasonally, Carmel has a farmers market; check farmers marketing by bike tips.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 riders.
  13. Mouth-of-the-valley:  The Class I (off-road) bike path between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road 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!)
  14. 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).
  15. 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.South Bank Trail Project - rack - easy for kidsAre you an experienced rider who plans to bike 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!)
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Wondering about Point Lobos?  You are welcome to bike the roads, then hike the trails.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. And for 2013, the Weekly’s readers voted HER Helmet Thursdays participant Grasing’s as Best Restaurant in Carmel.
  22. Wondering about biking the beautiful Hatton Canyon area? Read the May-June 2016 comments here. And as noted there, make use of the Monterey County bike map updated in 2016.

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.

Find helpful info on this website? 
To contribute to the Bicycling Monterey work, and for FAQs, click here.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, 9 Dec 2017

Bicycling Monterey tips for

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.

Carmel Bicycle is at the mouth of Carmel Valley,

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

And down in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Mad Dogs & Englishmen was unanimously approved by Carmel City Council on 4/3/18 to rent bicycles. Details: . [Update: Mad Dogs is now a full-service bike shop.]

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.

Bike advocates will be interested in Carmel Confusion, Part II: Rights of people who bike.
Carmel has streets that are quiet at certain times of day, and there, under supervision, children can learn to become bikewise.
Carmel–A Dog-Lovers’ Haven

Please refer to tips for dog-lovers biking Monterey County, and elsewhere. Then come back here for tips specific to Carmel.

Among winners of “Best Restaurant in Carmel” as voted by Monterey County Weekly readers, is HER Helmet Thursdays spot Grasing’s. And true to the preference of many Carmel  residents–and visitors, 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:  more 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 include:

There are hundreds of places that give discounts to visitors and locals who bike 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.

The gentleman above learned he was standing across from two HER Helmet Thursdays spots: Cypress Inn and Terry’s Lounge.

“Sounds like we ought to bike in Carmel next!”
Mouth of the Valley,
Carmel Valley, and
Carmel Valley Village
HER Helmet Thursdays spots
are highlighted below.
Carmel and Carmel Valley HER Helmet Thursdays spots as of 10 May 2017
For additions or changes,  refer to HER Helmet Thursdays Listings and FAQs page.
  1. Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria
  2. Bagel Bakery
  3. Billy Quon’s Sur
  4. Café Rustica
  5. Cantinetta Luca
  6. Carmel Bach Festival
  7. Carmel Belle
  8. Carmel Coffee
  9. Carmel Mission Inn
  10. Carmel River Inn
  11. Corkscrew Cafe
  12. Courtside Bistro at Chamisal Tennis and Fitness
  13. Cypress Inn
  14. De Tierra Vineyards Tasting Room
  15. Eco Carmel
  16. El Pescadero (formerly Mundaka)
  17. Forest Lodge
  18. Forge in the Forest
  19. From Scratch
  20. Grasing’s
  21. Hofsas House Hotel
  22. Island Taco
  23. laBalena
  24. Lamplighter Inn
  25. Los Laureles Lodge
  26. Lucia Restaurant & Bar at Bernardus Lodge & Spa
  27. Lugano Swiss Bistro
  28. Massa Estate Organic Vineyards
  29. Plaza Linda Restaurant & Cantina
  30. PortaBella
  31. r.g. Burgers
  32. Rio Grill
  33. Running Iron Restaurant & Saloon
  34. Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room
  35. Spa at Bernardus Lodge
  36. Stirrup Cup Pizza
  37. Terry’s at the Cypress Inn
  38. Trailside Cafe & Beer Garden

This post was published on 4 January 2012. One or more changes last made to this post on 7 May 2022.

  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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