A GREAT PLACE TO GET LOST … AND FIND SOME QUIET TIME: UNPLUG AND RECHARGE IN CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA. Are you constantly on overdrive? Multi-tasking? Distracted by devices? It may be time for you to up-plug. You don’t have to look far for the perfect spot to power down. Carmel-by-the-Sea on California’s Central Coast remains as it has been for over a hundred years … a charming village of artists set on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Visitors are encouraged to meander through the often whimsically named courtyards and passages that connect shops, galleries and restaurants and to spend time strolling the white sands. A good place to start an exploration of Carmel-by-the-Sea is the welcome center, located in a 1902 cottage built by a 17-year-old M.J. Murphy for his mother and four sisters. Murphy eventually became the foremost builder in Carmel, credited with more than 300 homes and businesses. A block away from the visitor center is the Harrison Memorial Library, built by Murphy to a design by architect Bernard Maybeck. The cottage and the library are stops one and two on a 27-stop self-guided walking tour that leads to such spots as The Tuck Box (traditional tea room), the Cypress Inn (a leader in establishing Carmel’s pet-friendly atmosphere) and the Carmel Art Association (a showcase for local artists who live within 35 miles of Carmel). For information on the Carmel Heritage Society and its walking tour map, visit carmelheritage.org or email info@carmelheritage.org.

BLUE LANTERN CARMEL ART WALK. From its beginning, the beauty and solitude of Carmel drew artists, who regularly opened their doors to visitors. Whether you’re an art collector or an admirer, prepare to explore some of the 100 art galleries. Interested in meeting the creators behind the works? From 5 to 8 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month, the artist-owned galleries stay open late to welcome visitors. Each shop displays a Blue Lantern to help you find your way. Want to get in touch with your creative side? Consider taking a class offered by a local artist. https://www.carmelcalifornia.com/art-tours-and-workshops.htm

MINDFUL EATING: PLACES FOR THE SENSE OF HUNGER. Relaxing can work up an appetite and the 50 boutique restaurants clustered in Carmel bring opportunities to savor. Among the choices: Chef Rich Pepe oversees Little Napoli Bistro Italiano with house specialties seafood risotto “capri” and veal “osso Buco” ravioli. Maitre d’Hotel Luiz Ferreira of the venerable Anton & Michel offers a menu with Maple Leaf Duck Breast served with sundried cherry sauce. Dametra Café owners Bashar Sneeh and Faisal Nimri offer Fisherman’s Cioppino and Artichoke Ravioli served with a side of music as Sneeh often pulls out his six-string Greek oud and Nimri plays an Egyptian drum to entertain diners.

A STRANGE BUT TRUE SOUVENIR. The quaintness of Carmel extends to its sidewalks which can undulate and weave, creating a challenge depending on one’s choice of footwear. Recognizing this, a Carmel law prohibits wearing shoes with heels over 2 inches in height. This law was put into place in the 1920s to protect the city from law suits arising from these uneven walkways that sometimes have tree roots protruding. Want to wear those spike heels? You can go to City Hall and get a permit to do so, and the handsome certificate is suitable for a frame or an album.

AND REMEMBER: Thriving in our life and work requires activity coupled with regular periods of rest and renewal. We often overlook these dual dimensions of well-being in the busy lives we lead today. Many of us never truly value or allow ourselves the experience of taking time to do nothing. Rich Fernandez.

Susan Cohn is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. She may be reached at susan@smdailyjournal.com. More of her stories may be found at http://ifwtwa.org/author/susan-cohn.

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