Put a Pin in it

Luxe Beat Magazine - - News - By Deb­bie Stone

To say that Carmel-by-the-sea is dog-friendly is an un­der­state­ment. The famed Cal­i­for­nia cen­tral coast town, rated the #1 Dog Friendly Town in Amer­ica, wel­comes man’s best friend with open arms. Pet own­ers and their ca­nines can dine to­gether al fresco on many of the lo­cal restau­rants’ pa­tios, and nu­mer­ous stores have water bowls out­side their doors, mak­ing it con­ve­nient to sat­isfy Fido’s thirst as you stroll the streets. Snacks are also read­ily on hand as shop­keep­ers hap­pily dis­pense doggy treats to well be­haved ca­nines. At Carmel Beach, you and your pup have more than enough space to roam, sans leash. Come night­time, ca­nine­friendly ac­com­mo­da­tions abound among the forty plus bou­tique inns, B&BS and dis­tinc­tive ho­tels. At the Cy­press Inn, for ex­am­ple, which is partly owned by ar­dent an­i­mal lover/ ac­tress Doris Day, pet own­ers can bring their furry pals into their ho­tel rooms, en­joy happy or “yappy” hour, doggy turn-downs and even high tea to­gether in the lobby. It’s a ver­i­ta­ble who’s who of breeds, sizes and per­son­al­i­ties, and sur­pris­ingly ev­ery­one gets along – four-legged crea­tures as well as two!

You’ll find plenty to do in this world-renowned des­ti­na­tion, with or with­out Fido at your side. Though only one square mile, tiny Carmel-bythe-sea has evolved into quite the hot spot with big-city of­fer­ings of art, the­ater, mu­sic and din­ing. The best way to ex­plore the com­mu­nity is to aban­don your car and ex­pe­ri­ence it on foot. You’ll prob­a­bly get lost once or twice, but that’s half the fun, plus it’ll help you dis­cover some of the town’s quirky traits.

As you walk around this pic­turesque en­clave, you’ll note an ab­sence of ad­dresses, park­ing me­ters or streetlights, as well as side­walks out­side of the down­town com­mer­cial area. Blame it on Carmel’s found­ing fa­thers, who nixed the prac­tice of house-to-house mail de­liv­ery, not want­ing to see their vil­lage be­come ur­ban­ized. To this day, res­i­dents must get their mail from post of­fice boxes at the lo­cal post of­fice. As for get­ting di­rec­tions, vis­i­tors re­ceive cross streets and de­scrip­tive land­marks or they’re told to look for the of­ten leg­endary names that adorn most houses.

You might also ob­serve there aren’t any chain restau­rants or chain stores in town. And if you plan to wear high heels that are more than two inches in height or with a base of less than one square inch, city law re­quires you to get a per­mit from City Hall. This rule, how­ever, is not en­forced by lo­cal po­lice, but is on the books due to the un­even, cob­bled sur­face of the pave­ment and per­haps as pro­tec­tion against pos­si­ble law­suits. Up un­til the late 1980s, there was even a pro­hi­bi­tion against sell­ing and eat­ing ice cream on pub­lic streets. Thank one-time mayor Clint East­wood for over­turn­ing this un­pop­u­lar or­di­nance. Though he no longer serves in this po­lit­i­cal ca­pac­ity, the vet­eran ac­tor/direc­tor/ pro­ducer still main­tains a pres­ence in the area as one of the own­ers of the Carmel Mis­sion Ranch Ho­tel & Restau­rant.

Wan­der­ing through town, you’ll quickly re­al­ize that Carmel-by-the­sea doesn’t ap­pear to be laid out in an or­ga­nized man­ner. It’s a rab­bit war­ren with its me­an­der­ing pas­sage­ways and hid­den court­yards – 42 in to­tal. This, too, was pur­posely done by de­sign nearly a cen­tury ago. The in­tent of de­vel­op­ers James Franklin Deven­dorf and Frank H. Pow­ers was to cre­ate a bo­hemian vil­lage - a re­treat for artists, writers and pro­fes­sors – that was truly pedes­trian friendly. Sup­pos­edly, only a few blocks in the one-mile square area are with­out pas­sage­ways con­nect­ing one street to an­other mid­way. There are even cut­aways in Ocean Av­enue, the town’s “main drag,” al­low­ing peo­ple to pass through the planted cen­ter di­vide.

Each of the pas­sage­ways and court­yards have their own dis­tinct per­son­al­ity and spe­cial flair, adorned by wrought-iron rail­ings, lanterns, in­tri­cate wood­work and Span­ish tiles. Dis­cov­er­ing these nooks and cran­nies is akin to be­ing on a trea­sure hunt, where plea­sur­able sur­prises await in the form of eclectic shops, col­or­ful gal­leries and in­ti­mate cafes. Those of par­tic­u­lar note in­clude La Ram­bla Court, framed by a 1920s stucco build­ing with wooden stairs, hand­some wrought-iron light fix­tures and iron grill­work at the win­dows and

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