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Carmel, California: 5 Things We Love

This tiny town on the Central Coast is packed with art, culture, and great food and drink.

inside Salumeria Luca in Carmel, California, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Sean Arbabi
Photo caption
Cured meats and fresh pastas fill cold cases at Salumeria Luca.

Don't be fooled by Carmel's sleepy charm. This town packs a ton of things to do into a seven-block stretch of Ocean Avenue. You'll find history, art, and culture—plus a beach ready for bonfires, barbecues, and off-leash pets any time of year. See maps at Area code is 831.

1  A Spanish-era man and woman sculpted by Jo Mora bow and curtsy to each other in El Paseo Courtyard amid colorful tiles lining colonial revival buildings. It's one of 40 courtyards in town, among them Piccadilly Park and Cinderella Lane.

2  Shoppers gravitate to the nostrano salumi at Salumeria Luca, a new take-out deli. The salumi picnic pack comes with eight kinds of cured meat, cheese, olives, and crostini. Savor it all at nearby Devendorf Park. 625-0264,

3  The cheery fire pits and view at Vesuvio's Starlight 65° Rooftop Lounge can make for a cozy evening with new friends. Try a negroni vecchio. 626-7373,

4  Fruity Paraiso pinot noir wins praise at Figge Cellars Tasting Bar, one of seven winery tasting rooms on the Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea. Buy a $65 tasting passport at the Chamber of Commerce visitor center (624-2522) or at

5  A stunning variety of local art rotates through the seven-room Carmel Art Association gallery, the village's oldest. Former members include Salvador Dalí. Among the many showcased works you might find textured collages, surging seascapes, impressionistic portraits, and vibrant semiabstract landscapes. 624-6176,

This article was first published in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.