When Nook Sales Experts match a buyer with their dream home, the only thing as important as architectural style is the neighborhood. That’s why we’re bringing you the #NookNeighborhoods series, where every Wednesday you’ll find cool history and culture to make sure you don’t overlook an area that could have the best nook for you.
Is Carmel-by-the-Sea a real place, or just one I imagined? First there’s the dog-friendliness of the entire town. Pets are allowed as a rule, not an exception. Most patios, stores, hotels, beaches -- all those wonderful places that provide biodegradable bags, snacks and water along every path. The original intent for making it so dog-friendly was based on a pretty solid premise: “If you travel with your dog, they’re probably well behaved.” Even the famed Carmel Plaza, with its high end boutiques, welcomes pets to enjoy the Fountain of Woof, a water fountain specifically for dogs’ refreshment.
As with everything in Carmel, there’s the story and then there are layers upon layers of how that story came to be, and how the town came together to make it both an ideal tourist destination and a darling place to live. Those two are sometimes mutually exclusive in other places, yet always end in harmony here.
Perhaps because of all the stories pouring out of Carmel-by-the-Beach, thanks in no short part to its former Mayor Clint Eastwood, it was the perfect setting for now famous fairytale homes. These began with “Hansel,” a rustic and charming Storybook Tudor built by Hugh Comstock in 1924 because his wife’s Otsy-Totsy dolls were stacked to the ceiling and needed their own place to live. The Gretel cottage quickly followed, and Comstock’s eclectic style became one of the distinctive ways you know that you are in Carmel and nowhere else.
Many of the nearby homes have been remodeled to fit that village feel, often tucked behind trees and making one feel as though they walked directly into their favorite book of tales. Although the Golden Bough theater fell victim to a fire in 1935, its retail shops in its court were all designed in the storybook style by another local Ted Kuster. Adding intrigue to the timeline, Kuster’s first drawings were on paper in 1923 and built in 1924. It is entirely possible that both gentlemen felt the inspiration of their surroundings to design buildings in the same way
Carmel-by-the-Sea offers more than just a feeling that you stepped into a dog-friendly fairytale, although that’s enough for me. You can bring your own bottle of wine to most beaches, and enjoy the Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea: leave the car at your cottage to sip choice bottles from one of the fourteen wine bars, or spread your Wine Passport over an entire weekend. They really go out of their way to let you enjoy the wine without worrying about your transportation, or even dinner. Many of the wine establishments will order your food to be delivered.
That’s just one of the ways that local business owners band together to create a unique Carmel experience instead of treating one another as competitors. This history of working together goes all the way back to The Great Depression, when “Carmel dollars” were issued, with the businesses that took the scrip stamped on the back. Today you can bid for such currency on ebay, so the value of community definitely increased!.
Culturally, the Monterey Peninsula has attracted some of the great names in the art and writing world such as Ansel Adams, Robinson Jeffers, Jack London, William RItchell, Arthur Hill Gilbert, and Donald Teague. And of course there is a special Carmel Art Tour, as well as many self guided tours through the galleries.
Whether you want to live in a folk tale of your own making, use the gorgeous seas to inspire your art, or just visit, Carmel is a Nook Neighborhood to keep in mind. You can even find your fairytale cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea using our Search With Style® app.