Colorful art scenes so often bloom in the least likely spots. Take Sand City, a teensy town on Monterey Bay once famed for sand mining, a landfill, and little else. Over time, artists and artisans have found this former industrial hinterland a perfect place to live and work. To check out the scene—a refreshing alternative to Cannery Row and Carmel-by-the-Sea—hop off Highway 1 in Seaside. Area code is 831 except as noted.
- Catch the seventh annual West End Celebration, the town’s signature event, on Friday and Saturday, August 22 and 23. Revelers pack the streets for a party featuring roving performers, jazz and rock bands, art shows, and open studios. sandcity.org .
- The olallieberry pie at Sweet Elena’s Bakery & Cafe draws dessert lovers from all over. Also try the spinach croissants or stay around for one of Elena Salsedo-Steele’s global theme dinners. 465-D Olympia Ave., 393-2063, sweetelenas.net .
- With spelling bees, cartoonand-pajama Sundays, and jazz and folk musicians, the Ol’ Factory Cafe offers nightlife Sand City style. 1725 Contra Costa St., 394-7336, olfactorycafe.com .
- In this town, even the Monterey Mattress Company doubles as a gallery (montereymattress.com ). Yet much art remains hidden in studios and fledgling galleries with odd hours. To find it, visit the Artists Directory at sandcity.org , call up an artist—don’t be shy—and ask if you can drop by.
- Stock up on artichoke salsa, blue cheese–stuffed olives, and chocolate-coated pinot noir–soaked cherries at Gil’s Gourmet Gallery. 577 Ortiz Ave., (800) 438-7480.
Photography by Terrance McCarthy
This article was first published in July 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.