As a gorgeous community of Monterey County, Carmel Valley promises captivating natural wonders. The area is replete with numerous parks and outdoor spaces, providing adventure-seekers with hiking and biking trails that invite endless exploration amid breathtaking scenery. Not only that, but you’ll find spas, shopping, and more. Read on for a fun-filled list of things to do in Carmel Valley to plan out your perfect day of adventuring.
Outdoor recreation in Carmel Valley
Garland Ranch Regional Park
Begin your journey at Garland Ranch Regional Park by exploring the trails along the willow-covered banks of the Carmel River. As you make your way through cottonwood and sycamore forests, these gentle paths reveal remnants of an old floodplain forged by nature's powerful forces. Ascend into the Santa Lucia Mountains on winding trails leading to soaring oak savannas and stunning panoramic views. Amid these majestic heights, your senses will be captivated as you traverse through canyons adorned with vibrant maple trees and flourishing foliage. Mountain biking and horseback riding are popular activities on these trails.
The fun doesn't stop at the trails, either! History buffs will enjoy immersing themselves in the rich heritage preserved within the park's museums. Discover life in days gone by as you explore the museum or step back in time at the Rancho Don Juan, two integral pieces that chronicle Monterey County's intriguing past.
Fort Ord National Monument
With a sprawling 86 miles of trails traversing diverse terrain, the Fort Ord National Monument offers endless hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities. As you explore the area, you'll be greeted by glorious grasslands, enchanting oak woodlands, and serene pools — a true haven for nature lovers.
Fort Ord National Monument also tells a story of courage and fortitude. This area once served as a training center for American troops during the Vietnam War. While the echoes of valor still resonate within its bounds, the monument remains largely undeveloped, allowing visitors to experience the pristine setting.
Beaches in Carmel Valley
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos Nature Reserve is a peaceful, pristine haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. One of the highlights at Point Lobos is the chance to witness majestic whales and playful sea lions in their natural habitat.
For those seeking underwater thrills, Point Lobos does not disappoint. The reserve boasts captivating kelp forests that reach heights of up to 70 feet, providing scuba divers with an awe-inspiring backdrop as they navigate the cool, crystal-clear waters. Kayakers also find endless adventures here, paddling through tranquil coves and around dramatic rock formations as they soak up the beauty surrounding them.
A visit to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve wouldn't be complete without exploring its myriad of coastal trails dotted with Monterey cypress trees. These picturesque paths afford visitors spectacular views of the rocky shoreline and allow them to appreciate the natural splendor of this remarkable reserve.
Carmel River State Beach
Carmel River State Beach is a stunning mile-long stretch of white sand and dramatic coastal scenery. Although it may not be your go-to destination for swimming, given its chilly waters and occasionally treacherous surf, it remains an ideal spot for those who are passionate about exploring the great outdoors.
Take a leisurely stroll along the pristine sand as you soak in the magnificent views of coastal bluffs and an assortment of vivid flora and fauna. Birdwatchers will delight in the diverse array of avian species that call this beach their home, while seasoned photographers will revel in capturing the perfect shot in a mesmerizingly vibrant backdrop.
Carmel Valley vineyards
At Bernardus Winery, you'll discover a haven of private tasting rooms designed to enhance the wine-tasting journey. A dedication to sustainability and organic methods lies at the core of the winemaking process at Bernardus. The team embraces eco-friendly practices, ensuring the vineyards stay healthy and harmonious with nature. The careful use of water resources, natural pest control techniques, and soil conservation methods reflects Bernardus' commitment to preserving the environment for future generations.
The secret behind the superb taste of Bernardus wines stems from the hands-on approach during harvesting. The team handpicks each grape at the peak of ripeness, guaranteeing that only the finest are chosen to create their exceptional wines. This attention to detail ensures that every glass is brimming with an unparalleled fusion of flavor and complexity.
By growing multiple clones of each grape variety at different elevations, soil types, and exposures, Joullian Vineyards adds an amazing dimension and complexity to their wines' flavors.
Joullian Vineyards understands that patience is key to producing top-notch wines. Each bottle that leaves their cellar has been aged to perfection, ensuring that every wine a customer opens is mature and smooth. Whether a robust red or a crisp white, these exquisite offerings only get better with time.
Shopping in Carmel Valley
The main street of Ocean Avenue downtown stretches for one mile from the quaint village center to the beach. Here, you'll find an array of trendy local boutiques and upscale restaurants. Discover one-of-a-kind treasures at the cute local shops tucked away among the fairytale cottages beneath a canopy of twisting cypress trees and lush greenery. Every turn unveils new surprises, beckoning shoppers to explore stores filled with chic fashion, handmade jewelry, eclectic art, and precious home accessories.
Spas in Carmel Valley
Carmel Valley Ranch
The spa at the Carmel Valley Ranch resort offers a unique oasis for those seeking whole-body wellness. At the heart of their philosophy lies a focus on natural, locally sourced ingredients. The spa treatments feature herbs and botanicals harvested at The Ranch. These potent, handpicked ingredients ensure that each treatment session feels luxurious and provides true rejuvenation.
Venture outside to the state-of-the-art fitness center, where picture-perfect mountain views await. Embrace the crisp valley air while participating in outdoor yoga sessions with gorgeous mountain vistas as a backdrop. Seeking a more rigorous workout? The innovative water training program promises a refreshing and invigorating exercise experience, elevating your fitness routine to new heights.
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
Step into the sanctuary of a world-class spa at Bernardus Lodge & Spa to experience absolute tranquility. Surrounded by stunning vineyards, the garden-to-treatment philosophy here ensures that each session harnesses the healing powers of nature. Expert therapists at the spa customize each treatment to suit your individual needs, providing a truly personalized experience that will invigorate your senses and leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized.
Choose from an extensive array of treatments, including soothing massages, body wraps, facials, and more – all designed to transport you to a world where stress melts away like morning dew under a warm sun. As you indulge in these transformative services, every detail is attended to, from the calming aromas that envelop your senses to the expertly selected organic products that cater to your skin's unique needs.
Finding your oasis in Carmel Valley
*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock