The Mission Ranch is a hideaway hotel and has a wonderful restaurant/bar experience. Located at the end of Dolores Street in Carmel-by-the-Sea, behind a white picket fence, you can feel the tranquility as you step out of your car unto the parking area. 1850's style buildings are in your immediate view but looking around you spot a field of green grass and the ocean in the distance.
This is all now owned by actor/director/producer Oscar Academy Award Winner Clint Eastwood since 1986. The former Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Clint Eastwood drops by now and then to visit with friends at the restaurant/bar. A word of caution, no paparazzi and please do not bother Clint Eastwood or he might become one of his movie characters, "Dirty Harry". Instead, enjoy the lasting beauty of the fields and ocean from the patio dining area or inside by the bar, just listening to that all familiar soft spoken husky voice calling out, "Oh really". Wow, being in the presence of an icon of the film industry and just sitting back enjoying the view with a cold one in hand.
Thanks, Mr. Eastwood, for preserving a little of a bygone era at the Mission Ranch. The location may be a little off the beaten path, but well worth visiting, not only for the view but for the ambiance and character of the hotel and restaurant/bar.
Take a scenic drive on Highway 1 to Monterey and the charming seaside village of Pacific Grove. Monterey is home to lots of sealife (like the cute otters) which can be seen in it's natural bay and Aquarium. Also situated on the bay is Cannery Row with it's many shops and restaurants. Between Monterey and Del Monte Forest sits the lesser known Pacific Grove. It's a rural seaside town with a rocky coastline and many well preserved Victorian homes. The web site below has more pictures and information about this lovely coastal location which rivals it's more expensive neighbor, Pebble Beach.
The Carmel Valley is a bit out of the way for visitors to Carmel-by-the-Sea, but rewarding to those that appreciated fine wines, excellent foods, and beautiful country views. The wineries are scattered along Carmel Valley Road inland before and after the Carmel Valley Village.
One winery tasting room is located on Pilot Road, just off Carmel Valley Road in the Village, has that old world feel and charm. Georis Winery is located in the mountains of the upper Carmel Valley so the tasting room is more convinient down in the Village. Georis is 28 acres of estate grown Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and is reflected in the rich bold taste of the Merlot and the elegance of the Cabernet. and don't let the movie "Sideways" stop you from enjoying a great Merlot.
The tasting room has a courtyard entrance with a tree canopy with sitting tables and tranquil gardens. The adobe tasting room has a small wine bar area but a larger old world style gift shop. Worth a stop if you enjoy a good red wine or just a relaxed time.
I love to drive or walk along the tree lined streets of the Village of Carmel. There are so many charming cottages nestled among twisited Cypress and towering Monterey Pines. There are no sidewalks or streetlights in the residential areas and the houses are identified by name rather than by numbers. Many of the beautiful homes have rustic stonework and whimsical architecture.
Walk down to the beach in the early evening (there is plenty of parking once the day beach people are gone) and watch the sunset. The clouds make it look as though the sun is making the ocean steam. The sun sets quickly, so watch carefully.
It's quite romantic to watch the sunset and take a walk along the sand. There were a lot of people out walking their dogs (it was fun to watch the dogs play in the water) and couples just sitting on the dunes enjoying the view.
If I were to make a list of things everyone HAD TO DO when on the Monterey Peninsula, this would be very high.
Carmel's rural setting and leisurely pace help you relax and it's small elegant inns, restaurants, art galleries and shops make sure of a nice stay. It's fun to straw through the narrow streets and do some window shopping. But to be honest...it's quite expensive!
But you're definately better off visiting Mission San Carlos de Rio Carmelo. The Franciscan frair Junipero Serra was the founder of the Californian mission post. Untill his death in 1784 the mission post of Carmel was his homebase. The block, which contains Moorish elements, has a very artistic design and is build by untrained people! It's a great and beautiful place to wonder off...
The other day I was heading from Monterey to Soledad, so I looked on a map...about 45 miles and the route via Carmel Valley looked about the same as the route via Salinas on 68 and 101. Boy was I wrong...instead of taking about an hour, the drive took more than two hours along the narrow, twisty farm roads from Carmel Valley to Soledad. This area is so desolate, there are signs warning motorists that there are no gas stations for the next 41 miles. Along the drive I saw deer, turkeys, and redneck houses that were straight out of West Virginia. Nice drive, but no fun if you're in a rush to get somewhere.
Of course, the lower stretch of Carmel Valley Road between Carmel and the town of Carmel Valley is much different. Here you will find expensive mansions, golf courses, equestrian centers, wineries and wine tasting rooms, numerous shops and restaurants, and the large Garland Ranch Regional Park.
The 17-Mile Scenic Drive is a picturesque route in between Pacific Grove and Carmel. Of course very famous are the Lone Cypress and the legendary golf courses. The brochure says that there is more to the 17-Mile Drive than the spectacular meeting of land and sea, although there is plenty of that, too.
Of course there were a few attractions to go to like Fanshell Beach which is a popular place to stop for a picnic and catch a few rays. The 200- to 300-year-old Lone Cypress is among the most popular photo opportunies along the tour. The legendary tree, official symbol of Pebble Beach Company, is a California Landmark and has been immortalized by Robert Louis Stevenson and captured by countless artists and photographers
Off Ocean Avenue, you will find a number if little alleys connecting the main thoroughfare of Ocean Ave to side streets. In these alleys there are hidden art galleries, restaurants and little shops.
The alleys are often decorated with flowering plants, sconces, and sculptures. Some will even surprise you by opening up into courtyards with fountains and tranquil seating areas.
On a warm afternoon, it's fun to just wander around Ocean Avenue and it's side streets and discover the town's hidden treasures.
Of course there were a few attractions to go to like Fanshell Beach which is a popular place to stop for a picnic and catch a few rays. The 200- to 300-year-old Lone Cypress is among the most popular photo opportunies along the tour. The legendary tree, official symbol of Pebble Beach Company, is a California Landmark and has been immortalized by Robert Louis Stevenson and captured by countless artists and photographers.
Last but not least there are the obvious attractions like the golf courses Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill, The Links at Spanish Bay and the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Link; a handful of castles scattered along the 17 miles of splendor through the Del Monte Forest; and, of course, nature.
To be honest we were a bit disappointed driving through it. The entry fee of 7.50 dollars included this illustrated brochure, but during the drive it never lived up to it!
Carmel River State Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the area, but bad for swimming due to strong undertow. During most of the year, the Carmel River is blocked by the sand dunes, creating a lagoon that is favored by numerous birds such as pelicans, kingfishers, hawks, and sandpipers.
The park also includes Monastery Beach, just to the south, which is also known as San Jose Creek Beach. This beach is popular for scuba diving.
The main beach is located just south of Carmel, and the small parking area is located at Carmelo Street and Scenic Road. Monastery Beach is along Hwy 1, with free parking on the shoulder of the road. Restrooms are availble at the parking area near the main beach.
If you've made your base in Carmel-by-the-Sea, another place you MUST explore is the Point Lobos State Reserve. For more details on this state park, would you like to surf straight to my MONTEREY travel page? Thanks!
On the way to Monterey and Carmel we stopped at Hearst Castel. This time we made reservations. (highly recommended because sometimes they are booked a few days in advance). Currently this is a state park and open to the public but it used to be the private home of W.R. Hearst. When he was a young child his mom took him on a year long trip through Europe and he designed his home based on the the architechture that enspired him during that trip. The house is amazing and there are walking tours for the different areas throughout the compound.
After I visited the mission I took the road along the coastline towards the south (highway 1). The views here were magnificent and I stopped a lot of times to take pictures.
When I see this picture, I think back to this sunny day along the Californian coast, the bright-orange coloured flowers waving in the wind, so high above the sea. The light of the sun is glittering on the sea, and the waves are thundering against the high cliffs. Hmmm, wish I was there right now.... I can feel the sunshine on my face, the fresh seabreeze going through my hair and smell the sweet perfume of the flowers.... hmmm, think I am dreaming away....
Lucia is a Small Hamlet in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range at the Winding and Scenic Highway 1 and is bannered by a small lodge and restaurant where there are spectacular views of the pacific Ocean and they have a 10 room lodge for people who want to savor the view and have some privacy. While primarily a motel and lodge on the side of the road, this is a nice place to stop and rest for a while. You can stop in at gift and convenience store and pick up something to eat at the tables, or even stop in at the restaurant.
address: 62400 Hwy 1, Big Sur, CA 93920
From the North:
Big Sur Valley - 22 miles
Monterey / Carmel - 48 miles
San Jose / Silicon Valley - 110 miles
San Francisco - 180 miles
From the South:
Hearst Castle - 38 miles
Cambria - 50 miles
Morro Bay - 70 miles
San Luis Obispo - 85 miles
Santa Barbara - 180 miles
according to their website:
Lucia Lodge is an historic cliff-side resort located in the heart of the Big Sur coast.
The lodge was constructed on a secluded stretch of Coast Highway One in the 1930’s by the Harlan family, which settled the area in the latter half of the 19th century. Today Lucia Lodge is run by the 5th generation of the Harlan clan and enjoys the same level of peace and solitude prevalent from the beginning.
Ten updated cabins and rooms, family style indoor/outdoor dining, and a quaint country store await you. A gift shop within the store carries arts & crafts from local artisans.
Lucia Lodge is located adjacent to highway one in the village of Lucia, 50 miles south of Carmel, California, and 40 miles north of San Simeon / Cambria, California (home to Hearst Castle). You can make a reservation to stay in one the cliff-side cabins or ocean view rooms… stop in just for lunch or dinner, or visit the store/gift shop.
Lucia lodge is famous for its close proximity to the ocean. No other Big Sur resort gets you this close to the sea. The lodge is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the Big Sur coastline and the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains. The cabins are situated along a southwest facing cliff 300 feet above the Pacific Ocean which offers an unparalleled view of the Big Sur coast.
There is a large deck adjoining the restaurant where you can take in a home-cooked meal and view the whales swimming along their migration path. Or, enjoy the ocean view from inside the historic restaurant while enjoying fireside dining.
The location of Lucia is also a perfect launching point for exploring the rest of Big Sur. Check out the links on this site to familiarize yourself with the wildlife, locate great day hikes and nearby beaches, or find fun locations to visit… all within 10 minutes by foot, to an hour’s reach by car.