Northern California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for dramatic cliffs, crashing surf and coastal hiking trails. But the region’s thick ocean mists and heavy marine layer can chill, so travelers frequently stay in sunny Carmel Valley or make the trip to the area’s boutique wineries, foothills and equestrian trails. Spanish missionary settlers arrived to Carmel Valley in the late 1700s.
Carmel Valley’s pace encourages visitors to slow down. At the Tickle Pink Inn, guests play chess in front of the lounge’s fireplace, soak in an outdoor hot tub, use the venue’s binoculars to watch for migrating birds and other wildlife, or pad around the inn wearing complimentary slippers. Goose down comforters, free evening wine-and-cheese receptions and complimentary Eggs Florentine for breakfast may help visitors relax in between visiting local sites such as Monterey Bay Aquarium, Pebble Beach golf course and National Steinbeck Center.
St. Lucia Mountains
Located in the St. Lucia mountains, the Carmel Valley Ranch resort offers two outdoor swimming pools, an infinity hot tub, poolside cabanas and fire pits for warming up on chilly nights during wine harvests. Nature trails wind through the foothills, accessible for joggers, cyclists and hikers. Carmel Valley ranch offers an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and on-site spa offering yoga classes and treatments incorporating the resort’s lavender gardens. Rooms feature fireplaces and private decks.
The region’s first wealthy families who established recreational homes in Carmel Valley had a penchant for horses. That tradition continues at Stonepine Estate, named for the 80-foot Italian pine trees encircling the resort. Once a thoroughbred breeding farm, the resort’s riverside stables are modeled after Eastern seaboard equestrian facilities. Visitors may enroll in equestrian classes including riding, jumping, trail rides and carriage driving, visit the English-style archery range or stroll through the resort’s olive trees and small vineyard.
- fence along a road in the carmel valley of california image by David Smith from Fotolia.com