Carmel-by-the-Sea :: California

When the sun sets in Carmel-By-The-Sea it doesn’t go unnoticed. People put their lives on hold for awhile, stroll down to the ocean—just a few blocks away from the center of town—and take time to observe one of nature’s finest gifts.

There’s a reason why the California Coast below San Francisco is so populated. When the air temperature is 70 degrees in January and begonias, geraniums and pansies explode with color amid shrubs and trees that are blooming as well, it’s no wonder people choose to live there.

Sheltered to the north by the Monterey Peninsula and to the south by Point Lobos State Reserve, “the crown jewel of the State Park System,? Carmel has a protected western exposure creating a micro-climate with a Mediterranean flavor. Architecture changes from English Tudor to Spanish missionary to Neoeclectic all within the same block, but instead of creating a feeling of chaos, it’s tasteful bordering on quaint.

Carmel is a golfer’s paradise and the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am brings in some of the biggest golf professionals and celebrities each year. The scenic 17-Mile-Drive between Monterey and Carmel winds through the Del Monte forest weaving through five different courses, all owned by the Pebble Beach Company, and is famous for seaside greens on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Storybook houses with perfectly manicured lawns and gardens overlook the courses.

While golfers concentrate on the perfect shot, sea otters frolic and harbor seals and sea lions bark their greetings from the ocean below. Jack Nicklaus, who won five major tournaments here said, “If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach.? For those of you who aren’t golfers, The Spa at Pebble Beach will cater to your every whim, making sure everyone’s happy at the end of the day.

As you exit 17-Mile-Drive in Carmel the road takes you to Ocean Street, a perfect place to park your car and explore the many shops, galleries and restaurants. There’s an abundance of independently owned shops and restaurants which gives the town a distinction that separates it from just Anytown, USA.

An example of such uniqueness is the Flying Fish Grill, a restaurant in Carmel Plaza owned by Kenny and Tina Fukumoto. With 30 years of restaurant experience under their belt they know what they’re doing, and do it with finesse. While Tina greets guests with her vivacious friendliness, Kenny prepares the food with love and precision. The Flying Fish Grill has been in business for 14 years in the same spot they started their original restaurant, Shabu Shabu—a traditional Japanese restaurant they opened 30 years ago. They moved Shabu Shabu over to the Barnyard, an upper-end fashion mall full of exquisite shops, galleries and restaurants, but in the end found that being in the town center is like being home for them and returned to their original location to open the Flying Fish Grill. Fukumoto blends Japanese seasonings with California cuisine creating a “fusion? of culinary delights with flavors that sparkle. These are the types of meals we look for while traveling, and only occasionally find—an example of food as art.

At the end of Ocean Street is Carmel City Beach. A short walk from the middle of town will take you to a place where the sunset can be so beautiful it’s almost a religious experience. You’ll find men in suits out on the sand along with joggers and children playing—all stopping momentarily to enjoy the wonders of the world as the sun slides into the ocean.

Every Saturday morning from 9:30 to 12:00 the docents of the Carmel Heritage Society lead a walking tour of the town, spilling secrets about Carmel’s colorful past.

Carmel is like a magnet to artists and the Carmel Art Festival held in May is a local event that gives everyone a chance to show off their talent. But Carmel’s biggest event each summer is the Carmel Bach Festival, celebrating its 70th season. It has developed an international reputation for a world-class presentation of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach as well as other classical musicians. What began as a three-day festival has evolved into a three-week event with concerts, lectures and parties.

Carmel stands alone in pure beauty, especially surrounded by the colors of spring. But no matter what time of year, a trip to Carmel is a trip you’ll remember.

Accommodations: The Lodge at Pebble Beach
1700 17-Mile-Drive

Carmel Festivals: Carmel Art Festival Carmel Bach Festival
May 17-20, 2007 July 14-Aug. 4, 2007

Dining: The Flying Fish Grill
Mission Street and Seventh Avenue
(831) 625-1962

Carmel Heritage Society $10 per person donation
(831) 624-4447

Pebble Beach Golf Course
Resorts and Golf
(800) 654-9300

The Spa at Pebble Beach
(831) 649-7615

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