Carmel Valley Ranch has been on my must visit list for awhile now. It is exactly the type of place I look for when I want a relaxing vacation: the beauty and serenity of nature and top-notch amenities (and just a two hour drive from San Francisco!). The grounds are expansive and include a lavender garden, small vineyard, pool and hot tubs, fire pits (with s'mores every night!) and golf course. The ranch also has a vegetable garden, chicken coup, bee colonies and salt house. There are tons of activities to sign up for each day like horseback riding, hiking and archery. Kind of like summer camp but with a spa and an outdoor soaking tub on your balcony. We spent the days exploring the grounds, relaxing, enjoying the views, visiting downtown Carmel (a 15 minute drive from the ranch) and roasting as many marshmallows as possible each evening. The food in the restaurants is very good and the views are even better. I highly recommend treating yourself to a long weekend getaway to Carmel Valley Ranch.
Little known fact: Pacifica is home to the world's best Taco Bell. If it didn't have a Taco Bell sign on the side of the building you would think it was Clint Eastwood's beach house. Sleek modern rustic wood exterior, wraparound porch and literally ON THE BEACH. You can stuff your face with chalupa supremes while watching waves lapping on the shore. Classy stuff. Which is precisely what I did right before this cozy holiday shoot. Unfortunately, my chalupa-induced coma prevented me from having the foresight to snap a photo of this glorious Taco Bell for you, so you will just have to venture down to Pacifica to check it out yourself.