While most tourists flock to the charming town of Carmel by the Sea, we are here to tell you; Carmel Valley is worth a detour, too.
As the name already suggests, Carmel Valley is on the inland side of Highway 1, about 10-minute drive from Carmel Downtown. This lush Valley, with its green golf courses, high-end resorts and tasty wineries is the lesser known sister of Carmel By the Sea, and somewhat an insider tip. Here are our 5 reasons why you should visit Carmel Valley.
#1 Carmel Valley Ranch
Voted #1 Resort in North California by Conde Nast Traveller, Carmel Valley Ranch is truly a piece of heaven. Set in the middle of the Valley, surrounded by mountains and golf courses, Carmel Valley Ranch is perfect for a day or weekend trip. While the room prices might not be in everyone’s budget (starting at $600/night), we highly recommend bookmarking Carmel Valley Ranch for any day trip plans. You can book everything from massages to facial at the Aiyana Spa, get pampered and afterward enjoy the spacious pool at no additional costs. Yep, you heard that right. No extra pool feels — very unusual for California’s resorts.
To stretch your legs, you can walk around the property and maybe swing by at the golf courses, too. Don’t feel like leaving your lounge chair? Get some delicious food delivered straight to the pool. To find out more about their offers, click here. Since our last visit, this is also our #1 for a spa day.
#2 Earthbound Farm’s Farm Stand
If you are into organic food, you have probably come across Earthbound Farm’s many salads and vegetables in stores from Whole Foods to Safeway. What started as a 2 acres organic farm in Carmel Valley in 1984 has grown into one of the biggest organic food producers. The main farm has moved, but a cute farm stand is still standing on the original property. Stop by for some groceries shopping, a quick lunch at their cafè and a bit of history of the company.
#3 Valley Hills Center
Small town centers usually don’t catch our attention, but Valley Hills has some cute gems lined up. First one, Tancredi & Morgan. We cannot pass by when we spot a good bohemian-ish shop and Tancredi & Morgan is one. Filled with everything from jewelry to clothes to furniture and home decor, this is probably one of our favorite stores in the Monterey area. For some good, decent Mexican food in a very American setting, stop by at Baja Cantina & Grill. You cannot miss this place, it’s plastered with vintage signs and makes a great backdrop for some Instagrams.
#4 Folktale Winery & Vineyards
A mix of rustic, modern and artisan, the Folktale Winery belongs to the new wave of cool wineries. Here you won’t only find wine, but also great local food, workshops, music event and even yoga in the vineyards (every Sunday morning). We love to see when wineries go beyond simple wine tasting and create a whole experience for their guests. Check out their calendar for events and to find out more about their philosophy here.
Heat up, cool down, relax, explore, repeat — that’s the Refuge experience. This Carmel Valley resort offers everything you need to rejuvenate from all the stress that accumulates daily. Famous for their Thermal Cycle of sauna, cold plunges, and hot thermal pools, Refuge is the perfect place to unwind for a day. We are also big fans of their silence policy. You can talk, but with a low noise level.
For California standards, their prices are also pure bliss for what you get. Only $46 and you can rest and relax for a whole day. Find out more about the experience here.