By Mira Temkin.
Romantic, fairytale cottages and the most pet-friendly city on the planet blend with nearly 100 art galleries and fine dining on every corner. Carmel-by-the-Sea, located along California’s Northern coast, has evolved into a world-renowned destination. A haven for artists and writers for more than a century, the simple beauty of Carmel beckons those looking for inspiration. Through 2016, Carmel is celebrating its centennial anniversary.
Carmel is only one square mile, so you’ll feel comfortable meandering through the lovely streets. There are 46 special pathways, so be like the locals and take the shortcuts.
Gael Gallagher’s Carmel Walking Tour is a great way to see the town’s highlights. Her leisurely guided walk takes you into hidden courtyards, lovely gardens and storybook cottages. Is that the Eastwood building? Did Van Gogh really eat at this table? Einstein and Dali were here? Clint Eastwood served as Carmel’s mayor from 1986-1988. Gallagher tells all.
Distinctive Bed & Breakfast Inns
Carmel-by-the-Sea is filled with more than 40 inns, B & B’s and distinctive hotels. The Cypress Inn is co-owned by screen star Doris Day and her partner. Built in 1929, the Cypress Inn is designed with elegant accommodations and modern amenities and the halls are lined with Day’s movie posters. An animal-rights activist, Day allows pets to stay in the rooms with their owners and dine next to them. Check out outdoor dining in Terry’s Lounge (named for Day’s late son, Terry Melchior) with fabulous salads and burgers. Don’t forget their “Yappy Hour” from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday to try their classic cocktails.
Art Galleries Galore
A mix of early California art, classical, modern, sculpture and photography make visiting Carmel’s galleries a fascinating experience. Thomas Kinkade opened his first gallery in Carmel. Duck in the Studio in the Garden and visit his signature store. Go with Carmel Art Tours for a great sampling of select galleries, hear fascinating stories and maybe see an artist at work.
Walk and Wine with Carmel Food Tours
Thankfully, there’s lots of walking on this culinary experience as you visit seven of Carmel’s special eateries. Highlights include Casanova Restaurant with its excellent gnocchi and Van Gogh’s table; Trio Carmel featuring specialty olive oils and vinegars, tasty over ice cream; Figge’s Cellars for wine and Lula’s Chocolates, the perfect finale. CarmelFoodTour.com.
Mundaka – This tapas restaurant is fun and funky with Spanish-influenced cuisine. Try the marcona almonds and assorted Mediterranean olives for starters. The paella varies daily with the best Sangria in town.
For more than three decades, Anton & Michel has been a Carmel classic, serving fresh, creative California cuisine highlighted with spectacular flambé desserts. Go with the wild mushroom risotto and rack of lamb with citrus-port sauce as you look out at the sparkling “Court of the Fountains.” Pepe’s Vesuvio prepares authentic Southern Italian cuisine made from his family’s traditional recipes. Start with their artichoke lollipops (fresh from the nearby artichoke capital of the world), certified Angus steaks or classic pastas. Add a glass of wine from the Pepe Winery.
Sunset Center Brings Performing Arts to Carmel
Within walking distance to everything else is the multi-million dollar Sunset Center. Check out their calendar for concerts, dance, and theatre that attract both locals and visitors alike. Sunsetcenter.org
Oh, and Carmel Beach
Just a few blocks down, dog run off leash, warming fires are allowed during the week and there’s a myriad of water sports to suit your fancy. Walking back to my hotel at night with the gentle ocean breezes blowing, I felt renewed and uplifted. That’s the magic of Carmel.
To learn more about Carmel-By-The-Sea check out this book:
Historic Homes and Inns of Carmel-by-the-Sea
Photos courtesy of CarmelCalifornia.com
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