A hundred years ago, Carmel was a haven for writers and painters who settled into rustic shacks amid the cypresses and sand dunes and cooked abalone stew over beach fires. The digs and the food may be fancier now, but the village's spectacular setting is as inspirational as ever.
Explore Carmel's enchanting architecture as well as some of its quirky decrees—by law, wearing shoes with heels over two inches high requires a permit—with Gael Gallagher's Walking Tours. Well-informed docents pack in a doctorate's worth of local history as they lead visitors down secret passageways, through adorable gardens, and into hidden courtyards.
Breakfast gets a storybook twist at Carmel Belle. Green Eggs & Ham, the cheery eatery's witty take on the standard Benedict features poached eggs with a spoonful of vivid herb pesto, served on a slice of prosciutto-topped country toast.