Carmel began as a planned seaside resort in the 1880s and quickly established a reputation as a bohemian retreat. The artistic flavor survives in the more than 100 galleries that line the town’s immaculate streets, but these days ‘wealthy’ and ‘bourgeois’ are just as descriptive. Carmel, with its picturesque homes, impressive coastal frontage and upscale shopping, positively glows with smugness. (Some of the sheen however is obscured by the nearly perpetual fog.)
The town’s manicured appearance is ensured by strict local bylaws, which forbid neon signs, billboards and hot dog stands. Residents pick up their mail from the post office and houses have no street numbers, so addresses always specify the block and side of street. Even public phones, garbage cans and newspaper vending boxes are quaintly shingled.
If you are into galleries and shopping, you’ll love Carmel as much as shade-loving flowers such as impatiens and hydrangeas; otherwise you may wish to check out its idiosyncratic charms (such as little alleys that lead to gardens) and keep moving.
Need to know
Carmel destination guides
California's top 5 secret weekend escapes
Most Californians moved here from someplace else, but that doesn't stop us from boasting about the Golden State's coastline like we put it here.
Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive Day Trip from San Francisco
Cruise along California's spectacular coastline on a relaxing day trip from San Francisco. You'll follow Highway 1 to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula home of the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and Steinbeck's Cannery Row. Explore Monterey's charming shops or choose to add aquarium admission. See the stunning estates of 17-Mile Drive.
Celebrity travel: if you can't be a star, join them
Now that you can fly to Iceland on the Iron Maiden plane (check out our recent Q&A with the plane’s captain, Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson), we thought we'd acknowledge a few other ways you can travel 'with the stars' – by going to their own shops, restaurants or private islands.