When I have that rare day to myself, I typically head, camera in tow and windows down, to Carmel-By-The-Sea. The vibrant fluorescent succulents along the coast don't look real- a color rarely seen in nature. The craggedy coast itself is a light tan, brushed up against a deep, foggy blue of a never restful sea.
Carmel is quintessentially quaint, indeed a plein-air painter's inspiration The whole town is only a few miles across, lined with art galleries, and locally-owned shops. On the other end is a rejuvenated wildlife refuge, nestled in an inlet of the finest, white sand, where turkey vultures air their wings, and seals and otters poke their noses out of the water. If you love a morning jog, wind your way down to the beach and back through the cobblestone streets of unaddressed, and often cloyingly named multi-million dollar “bungalows”. The whole place verges on being Disney-cute but keeps one foot in reality.
Carmel is a dog town, a shorts and cute flats kind of place, though, be warned: if you have a twinge of art buying hanker in you, you might easily walk away several thousand dollars lighter. In spite of the new, modern homes in development, it feels old, loved, and lived-in. The turn of each corner pulls you onward toward the discovery of a hidden garden, a Bilbo Baggins- style cottage, or a breath taking, glass-walled dream home, perched on a rocky overhang.