travel adventures: carmel valley

Posted on: Friday, April 28, 2017

when my sister kerry visited in february, we did a little weekend trip down to carmel valley and had such a fun time! E and I have been down twice before, and really love the quaint small town and amazing, relaxed tasting rooms. Carmel Valley is just a quick 15 minutes inland from Carmel, and a pretty easy 20 or so minute drive to Bixby Bridge and into Big Sur. and, since i’m heading down that way this weekend (see you Sunday, Big Sur 5K!¬†ūüĎčūüŹľ), I wanted to share a few recommendations on places to go in Carmel Valley and photos from our recent trips.

if time allows, I would recommend¬†doing a weekend visit, but you can also do a day trip from SF if you prefer. what was super fun about Kerry’s visit was that we spent time wine tasting and relaxing in Carmel Valley, but also explored downtown Carmel for brunch, drove along the beach and 17 Mile Drive in Carmel, and drove to Bixby Bridge. Another time E and I spent a Saturday afternoon in Carmel Valley, did dinner in downtown Carmel and then¬†explored/hiked in Big Sur / Point Lobos area on Sunday. this area of California is truly the prettiest and there’s so many amazing things to squeeze in!

the town of Carmel Valley itself is a totally walkable town and super dog-friendly – pups are everywhere! it has that small town vibe and truly incredible wine, without the sometimes pretentious vibe you can get wine tasting in areas like Napa. ūüė¨¬†all the people i met during my trips there were super friendly and kind.

Without further ado, here’s some Carmel Valley recs!

{WINE, WINE & MORE WINE ūüć∑}
PARSONAGE – the southwestern, bohemian decor in this tasting room is so dreamy! i recommend getting a glass of wine (vs. a flight tasting) and sitting in the cute window nook to people watch what’s happening downtown. if you do want to do the tasting flight, it’s $10 to try 5 wines.

CHESEBRO¬†this spot has super reasonably-priced wines (and wine club membership) with a modern barn interior. it’s right next to parsonage, so you¬†can hit up two spots just a few steps away from each other. we did the tasting menu here, and I was surprised how much I liked the white wines they poured, as I’m usually not a big white wine fan! tasting is $10 and you get 6-7 wines, so easy to share with a friend.

COWGIRL WINERY Рthis is a female-run tasting room with a MASSIVE outdoor area with bocce ball courts, picnic tables, chickens running around and tons of areas to walk around and explore. inside, there is a really cute area of curated products like cookbooks, cheese boards, etc. this spot is also open until 6pm, which is an hour (or more) later than other tasting rooms in the area! this is a great spot for groups, and I recommend getting a bottle of the super reasonably priced ($18) and tasty house red to share.

GEORIS Рthis tasting room is in a huge 1930s adobe with a funky garden area and tons of outdoor seating areas. the tasting fee is $20 and you can order food and snacks made fresh from Corkscrew Cafe next door (more on that below!)

BOEKENOOGEN –¬†we are members at this winery because we looooove their Pinot Noirs! They have a small(ish), rustic garden patio area and are right in the center of downtown. tasting fees are $10 to try 5 wines and $15 to try 7 flights. the wine here is realllllly good; it’s one of those places where every single wine I tried, I loved.

CIMA COLLINA Рthis past trip was my first time at Cima Collina and I was absolutely IN LOVE! they had 2-for-1 glasses of wine, so we opted for that inside of a traditional tasting and sat out on their glorious patio. they also have a massive outdoor fireplace, which is perfect spot to hang out when it starts to get chilly.

{FOOD, ETC.}

CORKSCREW CAFE – this is my favorite restaurant in Carmel Valley! They have amazing pizzas, cheese plates and other delicious snacks, plus a great local wine selection. They have a large patio, lined with brightly colored tables and hanging lights, plus a separate patio for people who brought their dogs along.

STIRRUP CUP PIZZA & RUNNING IRON DIVE BAR РYummy, casual downtown pizza spot connected to an amazing dive bar. They bring your pizza over to you and the bar has a great selection of California beer.
EARTHBOUND FARM’S FARM STAND – this is on my to-do list for next time! you’ve probably seen this produce brand at the store, but I just recently discovered that they are based in Carmel Valley. you can eat at their all-organic kitchen and tour their gardens or go on a guided flower walk, which sounds super fun to me. if you’d prefer, you can pick up produce, gourmet groceries and flowers to go…which leads me to my next recommendation…
PACK YOUR OWN PICNIC! – Okay, obviously this isn’t a recommendation on a place to¬†go to eat, but most of the time when we visit Carmel Valley (and wine country areas in general), we just pack picnics. just pick up bread and crackers, fruit, cheese and other goodies, pick any of the spots above with outdoor space and enjoy¬†a meal in the sunshine!

{WHERE TO STAY}
BLUE SKY LODGE – this is where we stayed! it’s a little outdated, but it’s right downtown and inexpensive, and we loved the hot tub and pool area and that they had complimentary local coffee available each morning. // CARMEL VALLEY LODGE – this spot wasn’t available during our last trip, but it looked really cute and was also inexpensive. the garden area and cottage rooms looked super quaint and relaxing! // BERNARDUS LODGE – this place is more upscale, but looks totally dreamy and like a little spa (!!)¬†haven in the middle of Carmel Valley // CARMEL MISSION INN – this hotel is located centrally located right on Highway 1, so it’s a great spot to stay if you’re only planning to do Carmel Valley for an afternoon and want to do other things in the Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur area during the evening or next day. it’s about a 15 minute drive to downtown Carmel Valley and a quick 5 or so minute drive to Carmel. the hotel itself was nice and we loved the hot tub and pool area. //¬†AIRBNB¬†– this is always my go-to for group trips and there’s lots of great options in the area!



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