The Butterfly House (named for its midmod roof) is perched along a stretch of rocky reefs that protect the waters from a moderate swell, making it a popular diving spot.
Photo by gettyimages.com/pgiam
Architectural Digest recently named Carmel-by-the-Sea California’s “prettiest town.” This pet-friendly outpost is revered for its elegance, lively art scene, and prominent dining and shopping experiences.
Class and elegance go hand in hand here. Favorite go-tos are L’Auberge, Monte Verde Inn, and Cypress Inn (the latter of which is owned by actress and singer Doris Day). Big perk: Pooches are more than welcome in all three.
Tickle Pink Inn at Carmel Highlands, the original home of former U.S. Sen. Edward Tickle and his wife, Bess, overlooks the majestic coastline off Highway 1. Beyond the lovely flowers on property — Mrs. Tickle loved pink florals — perks include daily wine and cheese receptions, a complimentary bottle of champagne on ice, and prime ocean views from private balconies.
American comfort food, a remarkable wine list, and piano-bar entertainment continue to make Mission Ranch Restaurant one of the area’s most famous dining destinations. Clint Eastwood bought the ranch that this restaurant and adjacent hotel sit on in 1986, rescuing the property from a sad fate as a condominium development.
Eastwood also owned the gem that is Hog’s Breath Inn before selling the venue to family friend Kaiser Morcus, a passionate restaurateur, hotelier, grocer, butcher, and entrepreneur with a commitment to healthy, hormone-free meals.
Dametra Café transports you to the warm Mediterranean coast with pizza and pasta specialties, as well as traditional favorites like moussaka, skewered lamb kabobs, and baklava. Yafa (named after the port city of Yafa, Isreal) peppers a comfy grace into its portal and serves Mediterranean dishes and Middle Eastern comfort food.
On the go and looking for an appealing alternative to big meals? Enter: Stationæry. Its courtyard location (open 7 a.m.–4 p.m.) between Mission and San Carlos streets offers breakfast, lunch, and coffees with a menu slanted toward modern California cuisine — we won’t say no to porridge, egg sandwiches, or latkes for breakfast.
Carmel Plaza, located at the eastern end of downtown, is a bastion for luxe shopping (think Cole Haan and Tiffany & Co.). Browse designer menswear, suits, sports jackets, and footwear (plus a seemingly endless assortment of ties!) at Khaki’s of Carmel, where coastal style, careful craftsmanship, and class are on full display. Check their website (khakisofcarmel.com) for upcoming trunk shows and other special pop-up events.
For almost 70 years, Fourtané Jewelry has been revered for its distinctly original high-end fine jewelry, estate pieces, and vintage watches. The clientele spans the globe, and visitors wanting to take home something exquisite alongside other souvenirs from their Monterey Bay traipse may love a stunning sapphire ring or a brilliant 10.5-carat diamond pendant.
There’s no shortage of shopping and dining at the Crossroads Carmel. Browse River House Books or venture into other standouts such as Clementine & Co. (unique gifts), Debra C (European sportswear), or European Jewelers (custom-made jewelry).
For any book lover and/or New Thought protégé, Pilgrim’s Way Books is a must, with everything from best-sellers to holistic gemstones and metaphysical cards. The Secret Garden, a one-of-a-kind garden shop, lies just outside its doors.
Nightlife & Entertainment
The outdoor Forest Theater offers theatrical presentations during the summer months, and Sunset Center’s performance calendar comprises local talent and big-name acts.
Starlight Rooftop Lounge at Vesuvio wins points for its atmosphere — fire pits, craft cocktails, and an incredible wine list. Brophy’s Tavern is a hoot; the Irish bar with beer-centric food houses a mix of locals and visitors.
Art: It’s all around here. The Carmel Art Association (on Delores between 5th and 6th streets) features a fine art gallery. Fetch a map and create your own gallery tour, taking in the mindbending sculptures of Richard MacDonald and an exquisite selection of impressionist and realist works at Renoir Art Galleries.
Scuba divers love Carmel River State Beach, a glorious, scenic bird sanctuary, while Monastery Beach is ideal for snapshots, reflection time, and picnics on the dunes.
Tor House and Hawk Tower was the home of poet Robinson Jeffers and family from 1919 to 1999. The iconic brick fortress with colorful gardens overlooking the sea offers tours Fridays and Saturdays. Nearby is Point Lobos, a breathtaking coastal refuge filled with nature walks, hikes, forest scenery, and a dramatic, dreamy shoreline.
Carmel’s Ocean Avenue is one of the city’s most wellknown and picturesque streets, with quaint restaurants and storefronts and a path leading directly to the beach.
Photo courtesy Visit California/Carol Highsmith