When walking the streets of the village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, it's hard for me to figure out what exactly this place reminds me of. Its natural beauty, with cypress trees and white sane beaches are typical of coastal California, but its walkability, small cottages and bakeries, and funky shops feel very European. Then, when I see the Spanish tiles and architectural details, I am reminded of the town's history. The area was occupied by Spanish settlers in the 1700s when the nearby Carmel Mission was built. Later, in the early 1800s, Carmel became part of Mexico.
The best way to experience the Spanish details of Carmel is just to walk around the village, especially the blocks downtown, and duck into its many courtyards. Maps are available that show where the courtyards are. And don't forget to look up--some of the best details are on the tops and side of buildings.