On your way toward San Francisco, you might happen along a quaint town on the rugged California coast by the name of Carmel-by-the-Sea. You might think, upon approaching the town's borders, that you'd happened along an enchanted village straight from the storybooks. In truth, Carmel is a nationally ranked beach town with more than a little charm up its sleeves.
Founded in 1902, this cute little peninsular town has its roots in history. Nearby is the historic Mission San Carlos de Borromeo del rio Carmelo, a beautiful and significant Spanish Catholic basilica and museum, showcasing centuries of faith and beauty. That's not all, though. The Carmel Art Association and Heritage Society work hand in hand to support the area's finer establishments and aid in cultural edification as well with institutions like the Monterey County Symphony, Center for Photographic Art, and the Sunset Center.
What makes this city storybook-like, you might ask. You only have to take a scenic stroll downtown along the cobblestone streets lined with slope-roofed buildings and fairy tale cottages. Wrought iron scrollwork and antique gas lamps add to the ambiance while the breeze through the shady coastal trees, sounds of the ocean, and endless birdsong make you believe you've entered an enchanted wonderland. Visitors tend to make good use of the shopping district, with its many shops selling artisan crafts, homemade goods, high-end apparel and more. However, there's yet another side to Carmel that should not go unnoticed. Like many Californian coastal towns, Carmel is a wonderful outdoor recreational destination with stunning Carmel Beach, award-winning Point Lobos State Park, and numerous city parks at your fingertips.
P.S. Did you know that Clint Eastwood used to be mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea? His legacy lives on in his former restaurant, Hog's Breath Inn, which continues to serve Dirty Harry burgers and other themed delicious fares.