No exploration of California’s central coast is complete without a sojourn to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a town is as well known for its shopping as it is for its most famous former civil servant, the Honorable Mayor Clint Eastwood. This quaint amalgamation of art galleries, boutiques, hotels, shops, fine restaurants and whimsically styled homes evokes a storybook ambiance that can be appreciated by romantics of all ages. It’s no wonder why Travel + Leisure has named it as one of the "World's Best Cities for Romance."
Carmel-by-the-Sea's rugged coastline, featuring both sandy beaches and rocky, cypress-covered outcroppings, has provided inspiration for artists of every stripe. On any evening, visitors will find town residents enjoying the beauty of a Carmel-by-the-Sea sunset at Carmel Beach while watching surfers play the waves. Just a mile south, Carmel River State Beach is a popular spot for diving, kayaking, surfing and birding. Point Lobos State Reserve, "the crown jewel of the State Park system," is much-photographed by artists and tourists intent on capturing its astounding beauty.
Pacific grove, CA
Pacific Grove is known for its Victorian homes, Asilomar State Beach, and is also known as "Butterfly Town U.S.A." for the annual migration of the monarch butterflies. The city is endowed with more historical houses per capita than anywhere else in California. Seventy-five percent of the homes in Pacific Grove are considered historical. Some of them have been turned into bed and breakfast inns.
The city is also known for the location of the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History and Pacific Grove Art Center are located in the historic downtown. Pacific Grove was also the main filming location for Roger Spottiswoode's 1989 film Turner & Hooch as well as A Summer Place, starring Sandra Dee.
Big sur, CA
A Place of Reflection and Inspiration
Originally inhabited by the Esselen, Salinan and Ohlone Native Americans, Big Sur was first settled by the Spanish in the 1830s but developed its first large settlements during the Gold Rush. The lumber industry thrived in the late 1800s in Big Sur, despite the difficulty of reaching the area; the population of Big Sur was greater at that time than it is today.
The construction of Highway One in the 1930s transformed Big Sur, making its beauty accessible to all rather than just the most intrepid. Since then Big Sur has provided inspiration to photographers, painters, writers, and musicians. Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac chronicled the area in books, and Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
Just passed the village of Big Sur rests the Esalen Institute where workshops on meditation, healing, and yoga have been offered since 1962. Recently the curriculum has been updated catering to Silicon Valley's executives with workshops on everything from internet addiction to depression and tech.