Pleistocene Cred: Sand City

The stretch of Monterey County coastline is the highest on the Central Coast.

DID MAMMOTHS WEAR WATERWINGS? The thick of summer cinema blockbuster season has a way of unleashing a cadre of prehistoric predators upon excited audiences, but Californians hungry for more ancient history can find it at several spots around the state. True, true, our natural history museums more than deliver, but we're talking outdoor locations. Dinosaurs and long-ago mammals spent rather a lot of time under the sky and sun, not under a roof (spoiler alert?), and if you want to feel closer to that era, you might keep your ancient era-seeking more al fresco. Look to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles for serious fossil action or look to Sand City in Monterey County. Granted, there are not bones or pits nowadays on this very pretty stretch of shoreline, but there are "spectacular dunes (that) formed during the Pleistocene era at the tail end of the last ice age somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 15,000 years ago." The Pleistocene was all about the big and powerful mammals, so mammoths and mastodons and wolves ruled the proverbial school. And while they're not at Sand City nowadays -- thank goodness, because we're fairly sure a mastodon's umbrella would cast a substantial amount of shade -- you can tell your prehistory-obsessed youngsters this cool little factoid as you chillax upon "the highest (dunes) found on California's Central Coast."

ASIDE FROM ITS PLEISTOCENE BEGINNINGS... Sand City is both gorgeous and a draw for those who love beauty and making art. The West End Celebration lands along the streets of Sand City from Aug. 21 through 23, and visitors can expect tunes, a street festival, the chance to peek around artists' studios, and lots of grub and beverages. The Friday night music bash is ticketed by doing the whole street fair scene on Saturday and Sunday is free, free, free. As free as squishing some of that old, old, old sand down at the beach between your tootsies and wondering if beasties of the wayback had once trod about the very place in which you're standing. Ancient creatures + art + the ocean=Sand City 4evr.

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