Carmel Valley Ranch | Carmel, CA

Many of us know Carmel, California for its beautiful coastline, storybook-style architecture, fine art community and abundance of hotels, restaurants, and shops. The beauty of this area draws people from around the world and is perhaps one of the most beautiful places on earth.

What many people don’t realize is that there is an entirely different side of Carmel. Just a few miles from downtown is what could be considered the rural side of Carmel, known as Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley offers a distinctively different experience with its serene countryside setting, rolling hills, vineyards, golf courses, equestrian trails and so much more that make this a perfect destination for the outdoor and wine enthusiast wanting to experience the peaceful, slower paced lifestyle of this beautiful region.

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Allegretto Vineyard Resort | Paso Robles, CA

When someone mentions the California Wine Country, I’m pretty sure Napa Valley is the first place that comes to mind for most people. However as some wine lovers are aware, there has been a quiet evolution going on in California’s Central Coast for the past decade or so that is offering a viable alternative to Napa Valley…if you are not already aware of this area, let me acquaint you with the Paso Robles Wine Region.

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The Paso Robles Wine Region is located approximately equal distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles and is home to more than 200 wineries, most of which are family owned and operated, and has the perfect climate for producing award-winning premium wines. The Paso Robles AVA {American Viticultural Area, a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States} is acknowledged for its wide range of grape varietals including ZinfandelBordeauxCabernet Sauvignon, and most recently the Rhône varieties, including the first Syrah planted in California. Paso Robles is also receiving recognition for its original Paso blends that are unique to the area.

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Belmond El Encanto | Santa Barbara, CA

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Discretely nestled in the foothills overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean you will find an enchanting hideaway called the Belmond El Encanto. This property exudes glamour and elegance in an understated manner and offers a sophisticated comfort that is captivating from the moment you arrive.

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17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

@2015 Susan Edel

In my opinion, I think everyone should take at least one trip to Pebble Beach in their lifetime, it’s the most gorgeous place on earth! Pebble Beach is a gated community on the central coast of California with a rugged, rocky shoreline highlighted by white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters. It’s a beautiful sight.

@2015 Susan Edel

There is a $10 per car entrance fee if you are not in possession of the coveted badge that residents flash when they enter, however, you can get in without paying if you have reservations at one of the luxury hotels or restaurants within the gates.

You ask “why would I want to pay $10 to enter these gates?”…because it costs less than a movie and the scenery is out of this world! $10 will transport you into a fairytale setting that will stay with you for a lifetime.

@2015 Susan Edel

Once you enter the gate, all you have to do is follow the red-brick (lined) road called The 17-Mile Drive. The 17-Mile Drive is…well, a 17-mile long scenic loop through the very affluent community of Pebble Beach. You are given a map at the gate and the wonderful aspect of this is you can sightsee at your leisure and stop at any or all locations you want to.

The road meanders through neighborhoods with mansions whose driveways cost more than the total value of all my belongings…

…follows the stunning Pacific coastline…

…and passes many famous sites such as the Lone Cypress (the iconic symbol for Pebble Beach),

@2015 Susan EdelBird Rock (hard to see the birds on the rock but they are there),

@2015 Susan Edeland the world-renowned golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links.

And these guys may not be the most affluent residents that reside in Pebble Beach but they certainly are the cutest! How adorable is that family of Geese?

While in the area, I highly recommend stopping by one of the three luxury hotels, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and/or Casa Palmero, for a meal or better yet, an overnight stay. During my stay at Casa Palmero (post here), I took advantage of the Lexus test drive vehicles on property. I reserved the convertible model and let me tell you, there is no better way to see the stunning homes and all the beauty of Pebble Beach than in a convertible!

@2015 Susan Edel

This is a great way to spend the day!

Casa Palmero | Pebble Beach, CA

@2015 Susan Edel

Welcome to Heaven! Alright…welcome to Pebble Beach but this is certainly as close to Heaven as anything on earth!

Pebble Beach, California is a world-renowned destination, and for a very good reason…it is located on the most stunning coastline of Central California; it offers mild weather year-round; and it has the distinction of being the only gated city in the world ~ to say that this is an affluent community would be a serious understatement.

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Pebble Beach Stables

I finally made time to visit the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. It’s a quaint and rustic center that is filled with charm and character.

@2014 Susan Edel

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The stables are open to the public and you can take forest or beach trail rides…or just stop by and visit the horses.

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I developed a little crush on Quincy.

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This one here was a bit of a ham and likes to strike a pose.

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I had to laugh at this cat, in the background of a few photos, who is clearly the king of the stables the way he prances around.

Do you think this one is mocking me? I see you looking at me and sticking your tongue out!!

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And I always make time to stop by my favorite spot in Pebble Beach, Roy’s Restaurant at The Inn at Spanish Bay.

My favorite experience at Roy’s is listening to the nightly Bag Piper play at sunset. 

If you haven’t been to Pebble Beach, make your way out here. It’s one of the prettiest places on earth!