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Walnut Creek Magazine

Escape to Captivating Carmel Valley

May 12, 2023 11:01AM ● By Fran Miller

When you think about Carmel, chances are you imagine a seascape with storybook cottages and sandy beaches. But there’s another Carmel. The one warmed by a sun that often evades its coastal cousin. The one that’s a little more casual, but equally as luxurious. 

Carmel Valley, a sublime pastoral region in the heart of the Santa Lucia Mountains, is graced with chic resorts, lavender fields, and historic wineries. Add to that hiking and biking trails, championship golf courses, working ranches, and a 4,000-acre regional park, and Carmel Valley is a tempting place for a getaway.


Quail Lodge & Golf Club Situated on 850-acres of lush fairways, fragrant meadows, and sparkling lakes, the plush suites make this a special place for a retreat. Built in 1964, the lodge underwent a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago, unveiling rich updates and first-rate dining at the resort’s restaurants: Covey’s and Edgar’s. A pet-friendly place, furry guests are greeted with souvenir goodie bags complete with a portable water bowl and fleece blanket. Spacious rooms feature hardwood floors, deep soaking tubs, and private patios. 

Bernardus Lodge Nestled amongst vineyards with spectacular mountain views, this four-star property features a serene spa, world-renowned restaurant, pool, bocce ball, and tennis courts. Large guest rooms combine chic ranch house décor with comfy furnishings. A handful of posh suites and villas offer a little more luxury with free-standing copper soaking tubs, alfresco showers, heated floors, and private patios. 


Inside Bernardus is the world-class restaurant Lucia where California country cuisine is the centerpiece culled from the valley's bounty and showcased in artichoke ravioli, roasted beet salad, and beehive honey cake. Over at Edgar’s, perfectly grilled filet mignon and luscious cioppino captivate locals and golfers during sunset dinners. 

For a hearty ‘down home’ breakfast, head to Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop where rumor has it that Robert Redford, Bill Murray, and other celebs are regulars. Check out the Earthbound Farm Stand, a cherished destination for salads and sandwiches. Dine al fresco at Roux Carmel, where Chef Fabrice Roux incorporates local ingredients into his French-inspired cuisine. With over 400 labels on the wine list and an ever-changing menu, dinner here is an experience.


WINE TASTING: A top global wine destination, Carmel Valley is renowned for its Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc varietals poured at over 20 tasting rooms, each with a unique style and character. Some of our favorites include Durney-Heller Estate, Georis, Joullian Vineyards, Talbott, Cowgirl, and Parsonage. The French-inspired Folktale Winery sits on 15 rich acres of sustainably farmed land along the Carmel River. 

HIKING: Garland Ranch Regional Park is well suited for hikers of all levels, but if you need an extra challenge, try the 5.4-mile Sky Trail with its 1,700 feet elevation gain and valley views. You’ll pass through oak savannas, maple-filled canyons, dense oak woodlands, and thick strands of chaparral. 

MUSEUM: Motorcycle aficionados cruise to the Moto Talbott to view Rob Talbott's collection of bikes from all over the world ranging from vintage dirt bikes to rare motorcycles. 

SPA: For something different try Refuge, a two-acre, adult-only water park with pools of varying temperatures. Take a dip in each, then hit the steam, sauna, and relaxation rooms.

GOLF: Actor Clint Eastwood's exclusive invitation-only golf club, Tehama Ranch, sits on 2,040-acres of rolling hills and rugged canyons high above Monterey Bay. Can’t get the nod? Head to Quail Lodge, and play on the challenging 18-hole Robert Muir Graves-designed course. 

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