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Carmel-by-the-Sea

With borderline fanatical devotion to its canine citizens, quaint Carmel has the well-manicured feel of a country club. Watch the parade of behatted locals toting fancy-label shopping bags to lunch and dapper folk driving top-down convertibles along Ocean Ave, the village’s slow-mo main drag.

Founded as a seaside resort in the 1880s – fairly odd, given that its beach is often blanketed in fog – Carmel quickly attracted famous artists and writers, such as Sinclair Lewis and Jack London, and their hangers-on. Artistic flavor survives in nearly 100 galleries that saturate downtown’s immaculate streets and courtyards, but sky-high property values have long obliterated any salt-of-the-earth bohemia.

Dating from the 1920s, Comstock cottages, with their characteristic stone chimneys and pitched gable roofs, still dot the town, making it vaguely reminiscent of the English countryside. Even garbage cans and newspaper vending boxes are quaintly shingled.

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