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With its gorgeous beach, nearly 100 art galleries, fine restaurants, upscale shopping and the most pet-friendly amenities on the planet, Carmel beckons those looking for inspiration. You’ll quickly understand why this seaside escape has been a haven for artists and writers for more than a century. Best part is, it’s only one square mile, so it’s easily walkable. Here’s how to spend three glorious days in Carmel:

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Day 1: Art of the city

Cypress Inn

Cypress Inn | Photo courtesy of Michael Troutman

Begin your stay by checking in at the Cypress Inn, owned by screen star Doris Day and her partner. Built in 1929, this historic boutique hotel surrounds visitors in elegance and offers top-notch amenities.Check out the halls; they’re 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. Hang out in Terry’s Lounge for its fabulous salads and burgers, and don’t forget their “Yappy Hour” from 4:30–6pm every Monday through Friday for classic cocktails. Try the Orange Blossom, made of gin, sweet vermouth and fresh orange juice, served with a side of jelly beans.

Studio in the Garden

Studio in the Garden | Photo courtesy of Carmel Chamber of Commerce

Next, walk up the street to 7th Avenue. Turn right or left—itdoesn’t matter. There are art galleries in every direction. Pick a few and chances are you’ll discover the artist at work. Painter of Light Thomas Kinkade (who passed away in 2012) opened his very first gallery in Carmel. Visit his Studio in the Garden and his signature store or meander down the hidden alcoves and side streets. With 46 special pathways, make like the locals and take the shortcuts. Thanks to an antiquated city law from 1920, you’ll want to stop at City Hall for a permit if you plan to wear heels more than 2” inches high. (Don’t worry; it’s not enforced.) 

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Day 2: All over town

Hook up with Gael Gallagher’s Carmel Walking Tour and explore the town’s highlights. Her leisurely guided walk takes you into hidden courtyards, lovely gardens and romantic, fairytale cottages. Is that the Eastwood building? Did Van Gogh eat at this table? Einstein and Dali were here? Clint Eastwood only served as Carmel’s mayor from 1986–1988, but his influence remains. Gallagher tells all.

Cottage of Sweets

Cottage of Sweets | Photo courtesy of Carmel Chamber of Commerce

Take the Carmel Food Tour, where thankfully, there’s lots of walking. This culinary experience stops at seven eateries to sample the house specialties. Highlights include Casanova Restaurant with 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. Sample house favorites and come back later for the whole enchilada.

Sip and stroll with a Carmel Wine Tasting Passport for $65. Get a $10 tasting at each of nine tasting rooms. Grab one at the Carmel Visitor Center.

Day 3: Beach or golf?

Pebble Beach Golf Course

Pebble Beach Golf Course

Start your morning with a plan. Just a few blocks down from the Cypress Inn, the world opens up at Carmel Beach where you’ll ooh and aah at the most exquisite views of the Pacific Ocean. Here, dogs run off leash, warming fires are allowed during the week and there’s all kinds of water sports to suit your fancy. Or take the challenge a few miles away at PGA favorite Pebble Beach Golf Course and cross that one off your bucket list.

For sure you’re going to be hungry. Anton & Michel serves creative California cuisine and has been a Carmel classic for more than three decades; it’s known for its spectacular flambé desserts. Meanwhile, Pepe’s Vesuvio prepares authentic Southern Italian cuisine made from traditional family recipes. Start with 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.


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Tagged: California

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Mira Temkin

Mira Temkin

Lover of lore with a thirst for adventure, Mira has her bags packed -- ready to go in a flash. She writes with spirited soul about destinations, hotels and spas.

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