Best Of Northern California Travels: Carmel Valley & More

Carmel Valley travel has endless possibilities including wine tasting, hill country hiking, Laguna Seca racing and events, fine restaurants and more!

I love to travel and in the past year have been out to the west coast several times. My sweet daughter is coming up on her one year California “live-aversary” in the bay area next month, so it’s a great excuse to visit! I’ve been out here before, and each time I come to CA I become more smitten. The landscape, the fact that you can be in the mountains in the morning and drive a short distance to the beach if you want in the afternoon. And the weather. Did I mention the weather?  Several of you have asked about my trip and I’m home in Miami now, but here is a brief synopsis if you’re interested.

noe valley apartment airbnb - Carmel Valley travel

With a few trips out to San Francisco specifically, we’ve stayed mostly in hotels. We stayed around Union Square and found it to be too crowded and noisy. We enjoyed our stays in Nob Hill and Pacific Heights and I recommend the Hotel Drisco which is sophisticated and elegant with a nightly happy hour. This time we wanted something with more of a neighborhood feel on this trip and more room. My searching on Airbnb found us in the Noe Valley neighborhood…great for walking, coffee shops and a Whole Foods 5 minutes away. We rented THIS APARTMENT and it was nice to have a kitchen for making breakfast and reasonably priced.

Noe Valley airbnb in a Victorian - Carmel Valley travel

The apartment was in the turn of the century victorian pictured above that couldn’t be more charming on the outside.

flowers san francisco botanical garden

We spent time just walking the city and that’s our favorite activity. San Francisco is a wonderful walking city but there are steep hills to climb and will really get your heart rate going! If you’ve been to the city before, check out alternative activities like the Botanical Garden, located in Golden Gate Park. Next it was down to Carmel Valley for several days and since I’ve been asked for where we stayed I’m posting it below.

Carmel Valley travel VRBO

A two bedroom/two bath craftsman style home nestled in the wood in Carmel Valley and on a creek. Whenever I stay in a home I can’t help but think of the renovations and changes that I would make if it were mine. This place has potential and it’s kind of a mish mash of styles with what I think was an addition above. Behind the door there was a little office, where I tried to get some work done quietly. Outside was a deck that overlooked the woods and creek and we spent some time sitting and sipping in the evenings.

Carmel Valley travel - riverfront retreat

The spiral staircase led to a loft bedroom area, which is perfect for small children.

carmel valley craftsman bungalow

The place that we stayed in above can be found on VRBO and although it had a few hiccups (like a non-working dishwasher and kitchen with some issues) it was a good choice for the four of us (plus dog). You can find out more at the link above and judge for yourself.

Carmel Valley travel - Laguna Seca Porsche event

We came down to Carmel Valley because my husband wanted to attend a Porsche event at the racetrack Laguna Seca. It was lots of fun seeing the hundreds of Porsches all in one place and seeing him happy. Me? I don’t care much about cars but I do about him and it was fun to hang out with the fam.

Carmel Valley travel - Porsche event

A sea of Porsches, lots of testosterone and noise from the racetrack area and well…maybe this would be my car, LOL.

Monterey beach - Carmel Valley travel

We were in the area for several days and spent one day in the Monterey area. Drawn to the beach as always, we drove around Pebble Beach and the surrounding spots and had a seafood lunch at a spot only known to the locals that my son-in-law found.

Carmel Valley travel - ranch

The Carmel Valley area has so much charm, and after wine tasting we head up to the top of the hills to visit the private estate of a friend. We were smitten…acres of well tended gardens filled with fruit trees and raised garden beds yielding all of their own vegetables. Truly the good life and one that we enjoyed being a part of, if only for just an afternoon.

Carmel Valley travel - hill country ranch

And my husband fell hard for the area. As his grandparents had a farm in Michigan he has always had the dream of being a gentleman farmer. One doesn’t know what the future holds, but we keep on dreaming and working hard and dreams sometimes do come true.

Carmel Valley travel - estate home

I hope that you enjoyed the tour, and if you have any questions about where we stayed feel free to comment or email!

Carmel Valley travel

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  1. Oh my goodness! Is the house pictured where you stayed or is it the exterior of another place? That home is the home of a former client of mine! Was every room a different (strong) color? We have to meet up next time you are out my way. I live 40 minutes from Carmel. So anxious to hear where you ate seafood? Was it on the municipal wharf or the Fishwife? Glad you had a wonderful time. Most of my work is in Carmel & Carmel Valley. We would have gladly hosted you all for dinner at our home dog and all! Beau would love a playmate!

    1. Cindy…going to email you!

  2. Marie Batson says:

    My old stomping grounds when hubby and I were in our twenties (he is now deceased and I am close to 78). I have such fond memories of our time there! We lived and I worked in Salinas, a bit more inland, and my husband worked in Carmel so spent much time on the beaches and in Monterey, San Francisco on weekends etc. However, when we decided after 9 years of marital bliss that we wanted to purchase our home and start our family we left the golden state, traveled the U.S. (all but 2 states) and settled in the Pacific Northwest . I miss the beaches but do travel to visit family in Southern California and actually prefer the slower pace of a small town.

    1. Awww, thank you for sharing those life moments Marie. The years sure do pass quickly!

  3. Mary Beth Ratliff says:

    We loved Carmel and Monterey and drove the 17 mile Pebble Beach. Our children were small then and we had my parent’s with us. Stayed in Walnut Creek too. Went to a family wedding at St. Mary’s up in a mountain. Years later took our then teens to San Diego and Santa Monica. Awe great memories!

    1. Sounds like great memories and so much beauty in the areas you mentioned!