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Beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea

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Situated along California’s Central Coast region just 249 miles north of Santa Barbara, five miles south of Monterey and about 120 miles south of San Francisco, Carmel is a spectacular vacation gem. Its boutique size—just one incorporated square-mile within the larger Monterey County boundaries with only 3,900 full-time residents—is part of its charm and what has attracted people here for decades. Its history dates back to the early-1700s when the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission was founded by one of several Spanish Franciscan monks who eventually had 21missions built throughout the state of California. It remains today as a historic National Historic Landmark Basilica Church, school and museum. The Carmel Development Company in the 1900s helped transform Carmel into a true village, and you could say that the decades to follow really “made Carmel’s day,” – a cheeky ode to actor and director Clint Eastwood’s famous Dirty Harry “Make my day” movie lines – when he was elected Mayor of Carmel in 1980. Since that time, folks have flocked here from all over the world to enjoy this unique setting that captivates and inspires the senses.   A great place to start your exploration of Carmel-by-the-Sea (which although part of the bigger Carmel area is still commonly, simply referred to as “Carmel”), is to stop by the Carmel Visitor Center. For an overview of Carmel’s history and historic structures, begin with one of the first – the First Murphy House and now the home of the Carmel Heritage Society. On the Carmel History Tour visitors can learn about and explore places such as the Harrison Memorial Library, designed by the well-known architect Bernard Maybeck; the Golden Bough Theater, now home of the Pac Rep Theatre, and the Cypress Inn, a landmark, Mediterranean-style boutique hotel built in 1929 and today co-owned by actress Doris Day. Carmel-by-the-Sea Today Today, Carmel-by-the-Sea is consistently rated as a top-U.S. 10 destination by many A-list travel, lifestyle, arts and culinary websites and publications, each invariably noting that it’s fascinating history, expressive architecture, unique topography, beautiful weather, captivating charm and romance, and intimate size create a unique backdrop for its plethora of bistros and restaurants, cultural and performing arts, art galleries, shops, accommodations and more. Its unspoiled beauty is both natural and by design, as the city has gone to great lengths to preserve, protect, promote and integrate eco-friendly and green practices into nearly every aspect of daily living, working and tourism here, including discouraging the use of cars, and/or those with electric or hybrid vehicles can take advantage of a free EV Charging Station. And then there’s this cool “No Street Addresses” thing – the city still holding to its early founders use of a central post office and no addresses for homes or businesses. Wanna find “ABC Gallery?” A resident will tell you, “Go down two blocks to the bank on the southwest corner, turn left, up three houses to the beautiful peach cottage with the colorful, hand-painted mailbox, hang a right to….” You get the gist!   These are just a few of these ordinance vestiges which also banned street lights (yep still none, or sidewalks, or parking meters outside of the downtown commercial area), and prohibited selling and eating ice cream on public streets (you can do that now though!). Among the favorite aspects by visitors is that there are no chain stores or restaurants, and strict rules on signage size and styles that would greatly detract from the Central Coast escape ambiance here and make Carmel too commercial like unfortunately many other small tourist towns across the country have become. Unique as some of these aspects may seem, they all work and are part of the charm that draws you in the moment you arrive.

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