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February 2015

Monterey, Carmel and Santa Cruz Retail Retreats

by Carolyn Blackburn

Shopping in Monterey, Carmel and Santa Cruz is a favorite activity for visiting leisure tourists and group attendees alike. Following are several standout places for those in the group on the hunt for gifts or mementos to take home.

The Phoenix Shop, according to Jerry Diaz, director, strategic client services for the Monterey County CVB, is perched high above the Pacific Ocean in beautiful Big Sur and showcases handmade knits, books, jewelry, stationery, ceramics and various other unique gifts.

During a visit, Diaz recommends attendees “grab a chair upstairs at Nepenthe and sip a beverage, and while away the time indulging in the incredible coastal views below.”

In downtown Santa Cruz is Sockshop and Shoe Company, a shoe purveyor for men, women and children that also boasts “one of the largest and most colorful varieties of socks you can find,” according to Krista Rupp, sales and marketing manager at the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council.

“Sock designs range from famous artworks to colorful comics and superheroes, to comfy toe-socks,” she says.

The Santa Cruz-based True Olive Connection is a great place to shop if the group is culinary-minded. Here, they’ll find olive oils, vinegars, olives, mustards, salts, spices and more, as well as ready-to-gift baskets filled with a nice combination of goodies.

And in Carmel, according to Safarina Maluki, destination marketing manager for Carmel-by-the-Sea Hospitality Improvement District, there are more than 40 specialty stores.

“Our quaint city has something for everyone and the stores can be found all around the town,” she says.

Among the options are Lula’s Chocolates, which is heaven for those with a sweet tooth; Carmel Cashmere & Company, an upscale shop that will appeal to those in the market for fine cashmere, wool and other knitwear and accessories from Italy and Scotland; and Laub’s Country Store/Carmel Classics, a go-to shop for T-shirts, ball caps and sweatshirts.

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