18TH YEAR: Carmel-by-the-Sea is plenty plein-air-ish pretty much year round, but come the springtime, when everything seems slightly softer, the village's plein-air-esque attitude shines through. Helping that, of course, is the Carmel Art Festival, which marks its 18th year in 2011. The four-day event -- this year's dates are Thursday, May 12 through Sunday, May 15 -- will focus on dozens of artists who excel in capturing the alfresco vistas the coast-hugger of a city are known for. Those artists will be painting around the peninsula, and you can stop by and see them at work.
SHOW AND BIDDING: When you're not tooling around the village watching plein air specialists at work, head for Devendorf Park, which is the fest's HQ. Sculpture will be on display around the park, and music and kid activities are also on the schedule.
MOTHER'S DAY WEEKEND: And if you need more cottage-y Carmel goodness, note there's an unrelated home tour happening the weekend before the Art Festival, on Saturday, May 7. Maybe mom will like? We bet she definitely will.