For a more indulgent trip, with more driving and less walking, head out to Carmel Valley. This excursion is great if the weather isn’t what you’d like in Big Sur, as Carmel Valley is always warmer. But beware in the summer…it gets hot!
Head east on Carmel Valley road, stopping at Garland Ranch Regional Park. Here you can hike around the meadow, or for the more intrepid hiker, you can ascend any number of trails to one of the highest points in the valley, the Ormsbee Fire lookout at 2200 feet elevation. Heading back to your car, continue on to Carmel Valley Village. A great spot is Corkscrew Café… outdoors is like dining in the south of France. It’s owned by the Georis Family, scions of a wonderful restaurant and wine dynast… I highly recommend their Carmel restaurants also: La Bicyclette, Casanova, and the second generation’s entry, Mundaka run by Nico Georis.
Then of course you can do some Carmel Valley wine tasting to your heart’s content from the mouth of Carmel Valley all the way out to Cachagua about an hours drive from Highway 1.
If you go that far, and it’s summer you can also make reservations to visit the Tassajara Zen Center. It is a wonderful and peaceful place where visitors can attend workshops, and sometimes just go for a day pass to take the warm mineral baths and swim in the river. Spectacular.
You can also visit Rana Creek Nursery if you make an appointment. They have been responsible for many habitat restorations throughout California, including roof top gardens at the Natural History Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The special culinary rosemary that is next to the front door at my home was given to me by the manager here. He in turn got the cuttings from an Italian farmer who brought several plants from Italy.