California, United States
Best for: Creative folk in need of vitamin sea
Let the ocean breeze tousle your locks as you cruise along the Pacific Coast Highway to this artistic colony and unassuming retreat of the stars; Doris Day, John Steinbeck and Clint Eastwood (who was once mayor) rank among former residents. Days are best spent dipping in and out of independent boutiques and cafés - don't miss the 18th-century Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo - before ambling along flaxen sands flanked by shoreside cliffs and cypress trees. For something quieter still, or perhaps an add-on to a long weekend break, drive 40 minutes up the coast to the pastel-hued beach town of Capitola.
Where to stay: Hotel Carmel