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!
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.
Create your own wine tasting itinerary and choose from dozens of tasting rooms with charming outdoor tasting space and expansive views of the valley - each with their own quirk and character. Twisted Roots produces delicious estate grown wines with a fantastic back patio or choose to sample a variety of award-winning Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs at nearby Talbott Vineyards. Or head to Joullian Vineyards or Testarossa Winery for indoor tastings and gift items.
To take the guess work out of where to start book a guided tour with the Wine Trolley. The five hour wine tasting event includes sampling from three to five local wineries and a delicious lunch.
Also be sure to stop in at 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.
By now you're certainly starting to feel famished. 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.
Prepare for a good night's sleep at one of the many hotels and cozy inns in Carmel Valley. 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.
Rise and shine! Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before embarking on an adventurous hike.
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 with world-class cuisine on a charming European style patio at Roux Restaurant. Try Chef Fabrice's Dungeness crab cakes and yucca fries or dabble in their savory entrée selections like their classic Spanish paella and Dijon mustard chicken sandwich.
Image Credit: Bon Traveler
Sadly there is just one last stop to round out your Carmel Valley experience. On your way out stop in at Folktale Winery, just off of Carmel Valley Road. The French chateau is a wine lover's dream nestled among rolling hills and sprawling vineyards. Be sure to try their popular Brut sparkling wine! Cheers until next time...