Among the rolling hills and picturesque grapevines of Carmel Valley you'll find a plethora of opportunities to relax, rejuvenate and unwind. Just a quick 15 minute drive down Carmel Valley Road from Highway One sits tucked-away wine tasting rooms, award-winning restaurants, championship golf courses and scenic hikes for every skill level which require a least a full day of play. Here a just a few ways to spend a full day in this enriching outdoor playground.
Kick off your day and play in the dirt at Earthbound Farms. Just five miles from Carmel-by-the-Sea this hard-working farm stand is where one of the largest organic produce producers got its start. The 2.5 acre farm stand is now home to various gardens, an organic grocery store and an all-organic kitchen and deli. After traipsing through the herb garden, labyrinth and berry patch, fill up with a fresh smoothie, hearty quiche and a bran muffin; you’re going to need it!
You’ll quickly burn up that breakfast with an invigorating hike at Garland Ranch where there’s a trail for every skill level. For a jaunt on the leisure side take the Buckeye Natural Trail winding through shaded oak savannahs and beautiful vistas.
Adventure junkies love Snively’s Ridge Trail with steep inclines leading to the top. This challenging thigh burner is well worth the expansive views of Carmel Valley’s floor lined with vineyards and the lush Ventana Wilderness.
By now you have built up a solid appetite and earned the right to be pampered. Relax on the outdoor patio at Lucia Restaurant inside the swanky Bernardus Lodge and order up a delicious lunch from Chef Cal Stamenov. Soak in the incredible views of the Santa Lucia mountain range while indulging in a prosciutto di parma brick oven pizza or Bernardus burger with caramelized onions and house made pickles.
Just down the road is the charming Carmel Valley Village where your first stop is the Quail & Olive. Keep your heart in tune with complimentary olive oil tastings at this boutique olive oil vinegar shop. The quaint shop was opened by Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Brabeck to share heart healthy oils essential to preventing heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Lucky for us these olive oils are packed with a bounty of flavors including rosemary, basil, lime, and blood orange.
Now it’s time to truly unWINE’d! Wine tasting in Carmel Valley is unlike any other tasting experience where the winemaker himself might just be the one pouring. There are dozens of tasting rooms to choose from all with their own quirk and character.
Joyce Vineyards’ hip and contemporary digs on the East End Wine Row is perfect for those looking for a casual afternoon of tasty Pinot Noirs. Holman Ranch Vineyards, just a few doors down, produces delicious estate grown wines in a rustic atmosphere.
Cima Collina’s backyard patio spot is perfect for soaking in some Carmel Valley sunshine and sipping on a glass of their buttery Chardonnay.
No visit to Carmel Valley is complete without a stop at Will’s Fargo. Here you will feel like you have been transported to a scene in Bonanza with a bar saloon, warm wooden character and rural landscape images of the area. Not much has changed since opening in 1959 with a prime selection of steaks, seafood, and savory sides. Save room for dessert with tempting creations like a praline sundae, chocolate banana bread pudding and hot fudge sundae.
With so much activity in Carmel Valley it’s likely you won’t want to leave. Luckily there are several hotels, inns and lodges for any budget. Bernardus Lodge and Carmel Valley Ranch are perfect for those looking for a lap of luxury while Quail Lodge & Golf Club is a slam dunk for those looking to hit the golf course or enjoy a kick-back California ranch experience. For more lodging options click here.