Along the spectacular Central Coast from Monterey to Paso Robles

This pretty little town is well known for its shopping as well as its most famous former civil servant, the Honorable Mayor Clint Eastwood. There are quaint art galleries, boutiques, hotels and fine restaurants and the houses are beautiful.

Carmel Mission. Founded in 1771, the first mission in California to be built from stone. It’s considered to be the finest example of a Spanish colonial mission in California. 3080 Rio Road.

Carmel Beach. The rugged coastline is interspersed with sandy beaches, including Carmel Beach, popular with surfers and families. It’s truly beautiful at sunset.

17 Mile Drive. There are spectacular coastline views along this road winding through exclusive estates and the 8000 acre Del Monte Forest. Parking areas along the way reveal breathtaking scenes, including Lone Cypress – a landmark of the Monterey Peninsula. From Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach.

Galante Vineyards. The vineyards are remote, but Galante conveniently has a tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea. High quality red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, are the highlight. Tasting room open daily. Dolores St, between Ocean and 7th Ave, Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Bountiful Basket. A tasting room featuring some of the finest boutique wineries of the Central Coast including Pianetta. Other tasting bars feature olive oil and vinegar from around the world. San Carlos SW of Ocean Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea.

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Aubergine Restaurantt. Chef Christophe Grosjean bases his ever-changing menu on the fresh produce received from local farmers. Try ribeye steak and Maine Lobster with English peas, black garlic, charred onion. The 4,500 bottle wine cellar ensures every wine will be perfectly paired with food. There are only 12 tables, so diners receive individual attention. Monte Verde Street. Tel.: +1 831 624 8578.

Anton & Michel Restaurant. A beautiful and romantic restaurant, blending elegance and modern charm. Cusine is creative Continental-Californian, traditional fare combined with light, flavourful sauces. Dishes include Black Angus New York steak, pan roasted duck breast, rack of lamb and locally caught seafood. Service is gracious, and the wine list is one of the finest in California. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Court of the Fountains, Mission Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea. Tel.: +1 831 624 2406.

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Road, to the east of Carmel-by-the-Sea has some great boutique wineries located within easy reach of each other. The town of Carmel Valley, nestled into the Santa Lucia mountain range, is perpetually sunny, surrounded by rolling hills, golf courses and ranch land. In the last decade, Carmel Valley’s vineyard acreage has increased by 25%, and is known as one of California’s finest wine regions.

Chateau Julien Wine Estate The estate has been family owned and operated since 1982, a French-style Chateau resting amid vineyards and oak-studded mountains. Taste hand crafted Private Reserve wines, flagship Merlot and limited release blends. Tour the Estate grounds and winemaking facilities. Open daily. 8940 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel.

Boekenoogen Vineyards & Winery. The estate vineyard lies in the Santa Lucia Highlands, but to make life easier there’s also a tasting room in Carmel Valley Village. Boekenoogen specialises in limited production of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Tasting room open daily 11-5. 24 West Carmel Valley Village.

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Heller Estate Organic Vineyards. Over 40 years of making wine in the Carmel Valley. Fed by underground springs, the vineyards have been certified organic since 1996. There’s a picnic area in a sculpture garden, and taste gourmet food samples or visit the boutique with wine-related gifts. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot and Pinot Noir are all organically grown and produced in the mountain vineyard. Open daily 11-5. 69 West Carmel Valley Road.

Access to Organic wine

Parsonage Vineyard. A family run business, with all generations of the Parsons family pouring the wine and telling the story. The tasting room also houses a quilt art gallery, made by the wife of the winemaker. Try estate-bottled Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Tasting room open 11-5 daily, 19 East Carmel Valley Road

Bernardus Winery. The textural element is the most important expression of wine at Bernardus. Excellent New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon-heavy red blend, named Marinus. is Open daily 11-5. 5 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley.

Marinus and Wickets Bistro at Bernardus Lodge. Under the direction of renowned Chef Cal Stamenov, Marinus features California Cuisine at its best, with local organic seasonal produce as well as regional seafood and artisan farmed meats. Magnificent garden and mountain views from the outdoor terrace, and a 12 foot wide fireplace adds to the charm. The award-winning wine cellar houses 1850 different wines, and a total of more than 35,000 premium bottles – including 10,000 bottles from the Bernardus Vineyards and Winery near the resort. Wickets is a great spot for dining in a casual, Euro bistro setting, indoors or outdoors by the patio fireplace, surrounded by beautiful green hills. 415 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. Tel.: +831 658 3595.

Highway 1

While there are quicker ways to travel through California, there are none as beautiful as the drive down Highway 1.
Big Sur offers 90 miles of jaw-dropping coastline, with plenty of twists around tight bends and sheer drops into the roaring blue water below. Amazing coastal views, dramatic cliffs, secret beaches and impressive bridges are just some of the sights on offer. There are plenty of places to stop along the way, and it’s a nature lover’s paradise.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. 26 miles south of Carmel, this State Park, named after a pioneer, has mountains rising to 3,000 feet above sea level, with plenty of trails to explore where you will come across waterfalls dropping into the sea, towering redwood trees, and plenty of nature.

Hearst Castle. A 165 room ranch named after its owner, William Randolph Hearst, the American newspaper magnate who reputedly inspired Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane. The 127 acre ranch sweeps across the stunning Enchanted Hill, with breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean, incredible gardens, terraces, pools and rooms for visitors to admire. Art and history lovers will be impressed by the extensive collection of sculptures and paintings. The list of guests who frequented Hearst Castle in its heyday was impressive – Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Winston Churchill, Errol Flynn, Joan Crawford. Tours are available throughout the day with knowledgeable guides. 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon.