As we were strolling through Cabanyal, it reminded us of 1) the Sunset district in San Francisco, CA, for some of its low-slung row houses 2) New Orleans, LA, for some of its colorful facades with wrought-iron balconies and 3) Ventura, CA, for its overall feel and laid-back vibe. With that mix, it's gotta be cool and hip, right?

It is. Cabanyal is the mostly residential area of Valencia that fronts the wide stretch of beach that starts at the port and goes on seemingly forever. It's an old fishing neighborhood that has adorable, abandoned old buildings and adorable, rehabbed old buildings. It is in a slow transition. Many of the buildings are still clad in bright, bold, ceramic tiles. Children play in the street and clothes are hung outside to dry [ok, clothes are hung outside to dry everywhere in Spain]. The beachfront has an expansive promenade that attracts large crowds during summer and warm winter days. This means there are also plenty of restaurants, bars and shops near the beach. Stop in a local joint and try some paella or if you plan ahead, make a reservation at Casa Montaña for some amazing tapas and great service.

Whether you are going to the beach or just to this part of town, stroll down the streets and enjoy the modernist architecture which is different than the center of Valencia. Don't skip the port area. After being all spruced up for the 2007 America's Cup with amazing buildings and even more amazing yachts, it has become a focal point for the area.

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