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.