CARMEL- BY- THE- SEA ALways SUMMER
“You have to nuke it or grill it—naked, with no butter,” says Pat Hopper, my Artichoke Festival guide, as she instructs me on how to transform the thistle into a “buttery smooth” treat. On any given weekend in Monterey County, Calif., you’re sure to come across some kind of deliciously luxe seasonal food festival showcasing everything from strawberries to garlic in all kinds of enticing ways—even (artichoke!) ice cream. Get a better taste of the area by making La Playa Carmel by the Sea your home base. The boutique hotel is a 110-year-old former private family mansion—ask for a room with both garden and ocean views, and be sure to hit the trifecta of made-to-order breakfast bars: omelettes, waffles and Bloody Marys.