California: Carmel-by-the-Sea

Located along the Pacific coast just 330 miles north of Los Angeles is the world renowned Carmel-by-the Sea, a European style village nestled above a white sand beach which has inspired artists and attracted celebrities for decades.  Rated one of the top 10 destinations in the U.S., the village is home to hundreds of shops, restaurants, art galleries and more, all within walking distance.

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We had the opportunity to visit Carmel earlier this year.  This unique village is just off of Highway 1 between Pebble Beach and Point Lobos State Reserve.  We started exploring the area just at the foot of Ocean Avenue, where one of the most beautiful stretches of white sand beach can be found.  Carmel Beach is bordered by the Pebble Beach Golf Links to the north and the historic Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Point Lobos to the south.  No matter the time of day, you will find crowds of people walking, jogging, surfing, sunbathing, picnicking and walking their dogs on the crystalline fine sands of Carmel Beach.

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Cypress tree

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Just above the beach you will find the Scenic Bluff Path, a well-maintained gravel pathway that parallels Scenic Road. The trail meanders through rows of Monterey cypress and landscaped gardens to Carmel Point. It is an ideal way to walk along the jagged coastline from Carmel Beach to Carmel River Beach and enjoy the scenic views from Pebble Beach to Point Lobos.

Scenic Path

Venturing on to Scenic Road we came upon the Cabin on the Rocks (26336 Scenic Road) also known as the Walker House. Completed in 1952, the house was designed by famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Setting out to design a house as “durable as the rocks and as transparent as the waves,”  Frank Lloyd Wright  spent five years working on and off on the Walker house.  Today it is one of Carmel’s most recognized modern homes. Built on granite boulders with a triangular wedge foundation the home looks like a ships prow cutting through the waves when viewed from the south side.  The 1,200 square foot home is topped with baked-enamel shingles of blue-green color to blend with sea and sky and it has its own private beach!

walker residence

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the walker residence

Across the way 26304 Ocean View Ave., we found the Robinson Jeffers Tor HouseThe Tor House and Hawk Tower were built in 1919 by poet Robinson Jeffers. Jeffers named it “Tor” house after the type of ground on which the house was situated, a rocky outcrop known as a “tor”. He described the land he chose as the site for the house as being like a “prow and plunging cutwater” of a ship. The Carmel area’s influence in Robinson Jeffers’ work is apparent in his poems, an example of which is “The Purse Seine,” a poem about the local fishing industry.

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Making our way up to Ocean Avenue, we were delighted by the fairytale architecture of the shops and restaurants framing the street on both sides.  Carmel’s restaurants and bars feature a full range of international, regional and local cuisines.

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Comstock at Mission

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IMG_7497Rather hungry from our journey, we decided to have lunch at the Merlot Bistro. (Ocean between Lincoln & Monte Verde) Offering fresh, colorful cuisine of California’s wine country, Merlot Bistro has become a popular stop for locals, visitors and families. Entering through arched doorways to the subtle influences of Latin rhythms against muted tones of brick, beige and blue, rattan chairs, and textured booths we found ourselves in a homelike setting with slow-spinning ceiling fans cooling us off from the summer heat outside. The menu featured an attractive selection of pastas, pizza and vegetarian plates, as well as a variety of salads and appetizers.

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After lunch, armed with a camera full of photos, we got back in our car and headed back home to Los Angeles.

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