With its architectural mishmash of storybook English cottages and Swiss Alpine chalets, the small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Northern California resembles a European village. But walk a few blocks to Carmel’s steep, sandy beach and the view is pure California: a rugged Pacific coastline spangled with rocky outcroppings and ghostly cypress trees.
The vision for Carmel began in early 1903 as a “Seaside town on Carmel Beach in the pine forest alongside the Carmel Mission. James Franklin Devendorf, an attorney who cantered down the coast from San Francisco via horse and buggy to witness the pristine arc of white sand sweeping the shore, vowed to create a haven for artists and intellectuals that would endure through the trials and tempests of time. Carmel-by-the-Sea was, in the eyes of Devendorf and developer Frank H. Powers, a real estate development in waiting. The two established the Carmel Development Company, which filed its map of the city in 1903 and began to market the haven to the poets and writers, artists and academicians, who would create Bohemia-by-the-Sea and launch the art colony.
Today, the one-square-mile village has no street lights, parking meters or even numbered addresses, but it is far from low-key. Once a bohemian outpost for folks like Jack London, Carmel today is prime real estate, and the surrounding valley is abuzz with top-notch restaurants, boutique wineries, art galleries and precious shops.
We visited Carmel-by-the-Sea on February 5-6, 2011, as part of our Coastal California road trip in celebration of Laura’s 40th Birthday.
Below is a photolog of our visit. You can click on any thumbnail to expand it and then manually cycle through all the gallery’s images and captions using the arrow buttons. Alternatively, you can click on the [show as slideshow] link below to initiate an automated slideshow of the entire gallery.