If you are from the bay area, Driving to the Monterey Bay area, particularly to Carmel By the Sea is a 1 1/2 hour drive if you would not have a restroom break via US 101 South then to CA 156 and finally to the Cabrillo Highway (CA Highway 1). it is located 125 miles south of san francisco, just after monterey and pacific grove and if you want to save on gas, then just take a day tour from the assorted tour buses plying the area from downtown san francisco like grayline tours or allustours or coach america. Most of the people going to Carmel By the Sea also go to the 17 mile drive and pebble beach and pacific grove areas and it is best to allot 1 whole day or two to go around the Monterey Bay Area.
There are only a few parking lots in town. So, you will have to park on the street. The curbs that are painted green are limited up to 30 minutes or less. The unpainted curbs have signs posted for a maximum amount of time of 2 hours. Be careful to pay attention to your time because you will get a ticket. Parking patrol is everywhere and put a yellow mark on your tire and the street to see if the car has moved.
Carmel is along the coast on highway 1. It is about 200 km (124 miles) south from San Francisco. My trip went further along the coast to San Simeon. From Carmel to San Simeon is another 160 km (100 miles).
We travelled down by car on Highway 1 from San Francisco on our wau south to Los Angeles.
Parking can sometimes be difficult in Carmel, parking is allowed on the streets but time limits are enforced. I also think visitors should be considerate towards the people who live whereever you are visiting. Yes, they do well economically from tourists, but at the same time you have to be mindful of where you park, especially in a small place like Carmel.
Parking lots can be found at Sunset Centre and Carmel Plaza.
Public restrooms can be found in the small park in the middle of Carmel and in the shopping centre.
There is only one taxi company in Carmel - The Yellow Cab - Telephone No. 624-3885
Bicycles can be rented from Bay Bike Rentals - Telephone No. 625-2453, which is situated on Lincoln Street between 5th and 6th.
On weekends and holidays Ocean Ave backs up coming into carmel...take Rio Road or Carpenter..if you do take Ocean..get off take a side street and zig-zag your way through...it all goes down-hill to the sea anyway. Don't be a sheep.
DRIVE. Yes, driving is the best mode of transportation here. :-))
Tucked away amongst the tall trees along the enchanting Central Coast, Carmel Village is packed with many lovely galleries, shops, pubs and wonderful places to eat! So I guess, having a car will make your life that much more convenient huh? :-) O.K., I hope I've at least convinced you to BEG, BORROW or STEAL a car. Oops! I didn't mean it that way.... but I'm sure you know where I'm coming from!
Pic Below: Here's a Map of Downtown Carmel.
We drove from San Luis Obispo to Carmel and had to go over the Bixby Bridge.(Big Sur)It was a great drive!