If you want to escape but you don’t have time for a vacation, why not take a day trip? Explore a new locale. Meet new people. See interesting things. Enjoy new foods. If you’re in the Northern California region, the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea might be just the day trip you’re looking for.

Here are five things you can do on a day trip visit to Carmel, whether your interests lie in natural wonders or more of the culinary kind.

Visit Carmel Beach

What would a trip to a beach town be without stopping by the beach itself? Cool off in the waters of Carmel Bay, soak up some sun, or enjoy a bonfire on the beach when you spend your day at Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Make Time to Visit the Historic Mission

If you’re a history buff, be sure to stop by the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo. This Spanish mission originally built in 1797 has everything a regional history lover would want. Take a tour of the Basilica and courtyards. Visit the Carmel Mission Museum. Spend some time in the Mora Gallery or enjoying special exhibitions. Or visit the mission’s library, which houses books brought to the area when Franciscan missionaries started the first library in California.

Explore Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

For the nature lovers, there’s the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Go for a guided walk, or take a hike on one of more than a dozen trails available in the park. Take in the breathtaking views of the water and rocky cliffs.

If you’re lucky, you’ll even see harbor seals or otters out on the rocks. If you’re a little more adventurous, you might get in the water for a scuba diving session and get up close and personal with some of the marine life.

Enjoy the Arts

Carmel-by-the-Sea has plenty of things for arts lovers to enjoy. You’ll find dozens of art galleries to peruse during the day. If you happen to visit on the second Saturday of the month, you can even take part in the evening Carmel Art Walk, visiting 21 artist-owned galleries.

You can also take in a live show at the Sunset Center, a state-of-the-art performing arts center offering film screenings, theatrical events, and a variety of musical performances throughout the year.

Take a Stroll Through the Village

Who says you need an itinerary on your day trip? You can have just as much fun wandering around the village of Carmel with no plan at all. You’ll feel like you stepped into a fairy tale among the cute cottages and shops.

While exploring, you’ll also find plenty of unique places to eat in Carmel, from having a jazz brunch at the Carmel Mission Ranch to quaint, modern cuisine at the rustic Casanova before your return drive. Don’t forget to stop by one of the village bakeries to pick something up to bring home with you.

No matter what your tastes are, Carmel-by-the-Sea has something for everyone. Don’t miss your opportunity to spend a day (or more) there if you’re ever in Northern California looking for a little bit of paradise.