Vacations are meant for getting away, which is why quaint villages, mountains and oceans are classic vehicles for escaping. Nestled in the cliffs above the crashing Pacific, California’s Carmel by the Sea combines all three into one holiday fantasyland. The village square, with its inns, shops and houses, is the epitome of storybook-cozy. Intertwining back alleys lead to charming al fresco dining while old school drugstores sell men’s shaving soap and Swiss Army knives. Pines and fur trees tower over shops and hide cottages, making the place look like the atmospheric inspiration for Disney’s original Snow White. And an always-cool-but-not-cold climate makes it ideal for outdoor recreation. What might be the best cluster of golf courses in the world (Pebble Beach, Cypress Point), and jaw-dropping outdoor sanctuaries (San Lobos, Big Sur) add a classic sporting bonus to a tiny town that seems to have everything going for it. There’s obvious reason why artists and writers have forever escaped to this part of the world for inspiration. And there is certainly no shortage of it in Carmel by the Sea.