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Travel: Dine & Don Downtown

No trip to the Monterey Peninsula would be complete without an excursion to downtown Carmel-by-the- Sea, also considered “exercise,” thanks to plenty of walking set against the backdrop of the ocean and the village’s storybook architecture. From charming boutiques tucked along the town’s stone-paved alleyways to a breezy open-air mall, Carmel boasts swoonworthy shopping and dining experiences, most of them on or near Ocean Street, the main artery in town.

7D STEAKHOUSE

The 7th and Dolores Steakhouse, or 7D, housed in a landmark 1970s modernist building, is at heart a classic steakhouse with a seasonal menu that has roots in Monterey County. The aged steaks and craft cocktails will make this a fast new favorite. 7dsteakhouse.com

CULTURA CARMEL

At this hip spot with a patio and cozy firepits, be prepared to savor Oaxacan-inspired dishes paired with traditional mezcal. Begin your edible adventure with housemade chips and guacamole and then indulge in diverse menu selections, including homemade mole. culturacarmel.com

GIRL BOY GIRL

From fancy dresses, jeans galore and hipster tees, this is where girls — and boys — wanna have fun. There are so many cool picks to choose from, whether it’s fashionable dresses by Zimmermann, flared Mother jeans, unique kicks, trendy jewelry or colorful handbags, you will not walk out empty-handed! girlboygirlcarmel.com

HOUSE OF CARDOON

It was the playful Ikat lampshades hanging in the shop window and jewel-tone wine glasses on display that first drew me inside this eclectic home decor boutique. Since that first visit, I’ve returned several times for gifts and treasures, from vintage art in neon plexiglass frames to scalloped lacquered trays and coffee-table books. houseofcardoon.com

LAND AND SEA GOLF

If there is a golfer or surfer in your life, or perhaps someone who just wants to dress like one, this fun find is for you. Located in the Carmel Plaza, this cool shop boasts golf gear, surf attire and art … and the friendly staff loves to chat about the local links. landandseagolf.com

THE POCKET

Tucked into a courtyard on Lincoln Street, this cozy eatery offers perfect wine and culinary pairings. It’s a delicious spot for a light lunch and glass of local chardonnay or a dinner of homemade spaghettoni with seafood and a robust red. thepocketcarmel.com

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