Carmel

  • A Karen Brown Recommendation

Carmel lies just a few miles beyond Pacific Grove and there is no more perfect way to arrive than along the famous Seventeen-Mile Drive, which meanders around the Monterey Peninsula coastline between the two towns. The route is easy to find as the road that leads to the “drive” intersects Lighthouse Avenue and is appropriately called The Seventeen-Mile Drive. Carmel—filled with Hansel-and-Gretel-style cottages nestled under pines and surrounded by flower-filled gardens—is one of California’s most appealing towns. Charming hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts are located in and around town. Tourists throng the streets lined with appetizing candy shops, beckoning bakeries, a wonderful selection of restaurants, enticing boutiques, pretty gift stores, and attractive art galleries. The picturesque combination of fairy-tale cottages and a sparkling blue bay makes Carmel so very special. Its main street slopes gently down the hill to a glorious white-sand beach crested by windswept dunes. Just south of town is the Carmel Mission, established in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra. Beautifully restored and fronted by a pretty garden, the mission was Father Serra’s headquarters. It is from here that the stalwart little priest set out to expand the chain of missions. A small museum shows the simple cell in which Father Serra slept on a hard wooden bed. The church itself, with its Moorish tower, star-shaped window, and profusion of surrounding flowers, has a most romantic appearance. Carmel has another very special attribute, it is completely dog friendly. The whole town welcomes them and caters to them in every way. Not only do many hotels accept dogs of all sizes, but some even have a packet of doggie treats tied with ribbons awaiting their canine guests. When you take a walk, you find the beach abounds with dogs happily romping beside their masters. When you go shopping, you discover pet boutiques displaying an unbelievable assortment of items: raincoats, bonnets bedecked with flowers, jeweled collars, booties, umbrellas, goggles, hand made sweaters, and sun visors. Browsing through the shopping arcade, you find a whimsical stone fountain with a dog’s head. Cool water cascades into three pools, all set at the perfect height for a thirsty pet. A favorite pet friendly restaurant is Forge in the Forest.

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