Carmel Village Inn hosts visitors amid the scenic, seaside village of Carmel with spacious king rooms and a welcoming bottle of burgundy vintage. Wanderers luxuriously collapse onto down comforters, which are bolstered by a row of five pillows marching along the casual country headboard, or ease into full baths to transform organic bath products into soap-bubble tiaras. Come morning, chefs whip-up a breakfast buffet, served from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., consisting of warm and cold dishes such as ham frittata, waffles, and sliced pineapple. Guests can dine alongside a flickering gas fireplace at clusters of wicker tables or grab a coffee or gourmet tea for a trip down Ocean Avenue to the Carmel Beach City Park for a one-on-one volleyball match.
Named Best Auto-Repair Shop in Santa Cruz by _Good Times _ for the past two years running, Specialized Auto offers a menu of maintenance measures to unstick bubble-gummed clutches and realign roaming steering columns. Trained car whisperers adjust fluid levels and exorcize possessed windshield wipers during routine oil changes ($43.50). Sweeten metal lemons with a 5,000-mile service inspection ($50.54), which thoroughly inspects all fluids, lights, and filters, or raise your auto's emission standards with a smog check ($49.85). The shop treats all modes of motion to a courtesy hand wash to compliment their newly invigorated interiors.
Navigate the California coastline from a new perspective—that of a robodolphin who must save the world using echolocation and a blowhole that doubles as a grenade launcher. The Santa Cruz Paddling Experience is a memory-making event that can be scheduled in the morning or evening. This tour includes a leisurely paddle through Monterey Bay to the waters near Lighthouse Point, a journey that drifts between seals and otters basking and cancan dancing in their natural habitat. The Moonlight Paddles tour meets one hour before sunset, giving paddlers enough time to get accustomed to the equipment before slithering across the dark waters into the moonlight to recharge the lunar-powered kayaks. The professional and personable guides at Venture Quest, like two-time world surf-kayak champion Dave Johnston, will thoroughly explain the equipment and procedures before taking off. In the off chance your kayak flips or you have a close encounter with icky seaweed, you'll know exactly what to do. Both two-hour sea sessions are a bit of a workout, but still easy enough for beginner paddlers. If a solo ocean adventure sounds too daunting, go for the double kayak and team up with another to conquer the tepid waters in tandem (each paddler needs his or her own Groupon).