Just off of Highway 68 lies a secret sanctuary that is waiting for you to discover. The Chamisal Tennis & Fitness Club sits just off of Los Laureles Road and is well-known to those in the tennis world as it holds several professional tournaments including the US Open National Playoffs.

I decided to scope out this mysterious property with a club tour. The drive from Monterey was a quick 15 minutes and lead me to the sprawling sports sanctum in no time. The fitness and tennis facility has been in operation for over 40 years with many of its inaugural guests still as acting members, and it's easy to see why.

The pristine and tree-laden property has 13 hard courts (eight of which are lighted), two outdoor swimming pools, two spas, childcare facilities, a fitness center and a plethora of group exercise classes.

The pools alone had me sold. Both the adult lap pool and family pool remain heated at a comfortable 78 degrees and are lined with plenty of lounge chairs, perfect for those who simply wish to enjoy the valley views.

The fitness room upstairs is well-maintained and includes all of the cardio, weightlifting and circuit training essentials. The fitness center leads into separate men and women locker rooms which each have their own steam room.

After the tour I stopped into the Courtside Bistro which is luckily open to non-members. The restaurant's dining room reminded me of a cozy lodge complete with high vaulted ceilings, a large stone fireplace, rustic wood paneling and relaxing atmosphere. There is even a great bar with an extensive beer and local wine list, definitely not your average club café!

Being in Monterey's "sun belt" I opted to sit on the outdoor patio overlooking a few of the tennis courts. While soaking in the sun I couldn't help but notice a strange rock formation in the distance. Apparently it's known as "Castle Rock" and is referenced in John Steinbeck's novel "Pastures of Heaven." Word has it that it's particularly stunning during sunset when the formation has a golden hue.

Speaking of pastures of heaven, the bistro sources its produce straight from the Salinas Valley. The lunch menu was full of tempting (and fresh) appetizers, salads and sandwiches; I opted for the roasted beet salad while my buddy ordered the cheddar bacon cheeseburger.

We could literally smell the burger as it was being prepared. A large ciabatta bun oozed with white cheddar cheese and savory beef all topped with crispy bacon. The French fries were crisp and right out of the fryer.

My hefty dose of chopped Salinas Valley greens came topped with roasted beets, hunks of feta cheese and grilled chicken. The sweetness and acidity from the house made balsamic vinaigrette made the fresh ingredients shine!

At an average of $10-$12 per entrée this place is really a steal for its top-notched quality, exceptional service and relaxed atmosphere! The Courtside Bistro is open 7 days a week from 11am-9pm for lunch and dinner.

Interested in fitness and/or tennis memberships? Call (831)484-1135 to schedule a tour. Need a tennis lesson but not a member? No problem, lessons are open to the public.