If you decide to head up to Carmel CA, you might get waylaid by several spots I’d love you to see. After passing Rocky Point restaurant, you’ll cross a bridge at Garrapata creek. To the left is a great beach, though swimming is NOT recommended. (continue on to Lover’s Point for safe swimming). I think the beach at Garrapata is the best Big Sur has to offer. A bit further up the road, you’ll come to a large stand of Cypress trees on the right. Probably quite a few cars will be parked there too. This is the access to Sobaranes Canyon and the Rocky Creek trail. Currently, what is a 4 mile loop trail, is closed at the steepest highest parts from winter storm damage. But you can either go up the redwood canyon along Sobaranes creek (passing lots of Prickly Pear cactus that you may see Latino families harvesting for medicinal and culinary specialties) or up Rocky Creek trail which climbs to the north and offers views of the Pacific. Below the summit is an outcropping with a bench offering more priceless views. You can continue up to the summit at about 1700 ft, and then out to another bench from which you can look eastward into Carmel Valley.
Closer to Carmel is Monterey County Regional Park’s newest acquisition, Palo Corona. It shouldn’t be missed either. Although still mainly undeveloped in terms of trails, you can get a permit (first come first served) and really get a sense of the spectacular diversity of the area. It’s above Point Lobos. During high season (and on all weekends) Point Lobos is packed, but go anyway. Plan to spend a few hours and if you’re able to, walk from one end to the other.
If you’re not too pooped, backtrack about a mile to Highlands Inn and have a glass of wine in the dining room. If the California Market there has reopened, it offers a much more casual setting. But either one is great for a pit stop.
Carmel is not to be missed. I grew up there and while I bemoan the passing of its historic bohemian and artsy founders, the sheer beauty of the beach keeps me coming back. If you enjoy shopping, there’s no shortage, but for me, that 1¼ mile crescent of white sand is unlike any other I’ve experienced. Great eats are to be found at the Georis’ restaurants (described elsewhere) or at Cantinetta Luca for a great Italian meal. Best for breakfast is the Village Corner on a sunny day, or the locals’ favorite, Little Swiss Café. Rio Grill in the shopping center at the mouth of Carmel Valley is a 20 year fixture that just keeps getting better. There are so many restaurants, just feel free to ask if you’ve got specific questions.
Though Carmel CA is known as an artists’ mecca, few remain. But the town is literally overrun with art galleries. One shouldn’t discuss taste in art any more than politics. Suffice it to say I have only been drawn to a couple of galleries, two owned by siblings: The Winfield Gallery, and a smaller atalier of Chris Winfield’s sister Robin. Also the American Art Gallery, run by the wonderful Alek, who has represented my Hermitage Group artists, is a welcome break from the overabundance of seascapes in the other galleries.