Summer at the Ranch
Last week Brandon and I decided to take a few days off to relax in central California’s beautiful Carmel Valley.
We had gone there for the day to do some wine tasting during our anniversary trip to Carmel back in April and immediately fell in love with the area. The views are stunning, the wine is flavorful, and the weather is pleasantly warm.
I knew I wanted to return as soon as we left and began randomly searching every couple of weeks for deals that would justify a trip back. Then last month I discovered that Carmel Valley Ranch was running a special on Sunday nights for California residents so we packed a few small bags and made the two hour drive south on a Sunday morning.
As a part of the package we booked, the Ranch provided us with free wine tastings at two of the valley’s local vineyards so we took advantage of that while we waited for our room to become available.
Twisted Roots Winery was the first one we visited and it was definitely our favorite. Their charming patio is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a tasting.
Their patio is also pet-friendly and because we were the only ones there, we let Coco off her leash to explore a little. That lasted for about 10 minutes before she fell asleep! :)
After lunch and a short tasting at the second winery, we went back to the hotel to check-in and get settled. The room that I had originally booked included an outdoor bathtub which we were both really excited about but unfortunately it was down a set of steep stairs that would have been too hard on Coco’s arthritic legs, seeing how we would have to take her up and down every time she needed to use the bathroom. #olddogproblems
Luckily they had a room available with direct access right above the original one but as a result we lost our outdoor bathtub. Even so, the room was still really nice and came equipped with a gas fireplace and a tranquil patio that’s nestled within the trees.
Another benefit of the package that we booked was a complimentary bottle of Carmel Valley Ranch’s Reserve Rosé.
We ordered a pizza to the room on the second night and drank a few glasses and it was actually quite tasty!
The first night we went for an early dinner at their new restaurant, The Valley Kitchen. The main focus of the menu is using ingredients that are locally sourced so everything they serve is either from their own organic garden or one nearby. We had a stone fruit and artichoke salad with burrata, tomato soup with corn and goat cheese stuffed puffed pastry, and vegetable risotto with hazelnut gremolata.
Everything was great, especially the soup and the risotto.
After dinner, we decided to check out a few of their hiking trails during sunset.
It was a little too cloudy to see the sun but the views were still gorgeous. I couldn’t get enough of the pretty moss on the trees. It made me feel like I was back at home in the southeast.
Eventually we came across all of the ranch’s farm animals including this cute little goat perched in a tree!
It was so sweet! It let me pet it for a few minutes but then it started trying to eat my sleeve so we moved on to say hi the horses.
The donkeys were also super friendly. They came right up to us, probably looking for a treat!
We continued to hike around and take in the views for a while before making our way back to the lodge to end the night with a warm, gooey s’more.
Every night they set up a complimentary s’mores station by the fire pit from 6-10pm. That was probably the highlight of the stay for me. :)
The next morning, we went back to the Valley Kitchen for breakfast and our way we spotted a deer on Bambi’s path!
We saw two more later that day and none of them seem startled by humans, which was nice for a change. The surroundings are so peaceful, I would probably be hanging out in these woods if I were a deer too!
For breakfast we had multi-grain waffles with blueberry syrup and organic yogurt with homemade granola and mixed berries.
I’m salivating just thinking about those waffles. They were amazing!
After that we took Coco for a short hike around the property…it is seriously one of the most beautiful places I have been. They have their own vineyards, fields of lavender (that smell incredible!), tree swings, a hen house, and an organic garden all perched on the side of a mountain with stunning views of the valley.
Last but not least is the saltwater pool. They actually have three, one for children and one for adults only.
We spent the rest of the day there, drinking muddled orange spritzers and Moscow mules in between dips in the pool.
They also serve you lunch right there and I had to get another portabella hummus wrap with a side of truffle fries. Those fries are everything!
And because we happened to still be by the pool once 6pm rolled around, I kindly asked Brandon to make me another s’more. ;)
Overall, it was the perfect quick and relaxing getaway. I usually plan a million things for us to do when we travel so it was nice to visit somewhere that has a lot to explore without the need for extensive planning. It would also be a great place to take kids. There are so many activities to keep them busy!
That said, I wouldn’t stay here if I wanted to visit downtown Carmel and the beach because it’s kind out of the way. But to me, the ranch is a destination in itself so it makes sense to stay on-site and make the most of it while you’re there. Your only problem after that will be leaving. :)