As the summer season starts to wind down, we find ourselves longing for something to look forward to–which often takes the form of a luxurious vacation idea scribbled into the margins of our desk calendar. Because as August days come and go, we are increasingly aware that fall is coming–and summer, warm weather and all, is quickly leaving us behind. Daydreaming about our next getaway isn’t self-indulgent because studies show that employees perform better when they’re working toward something exciting, like a trip or fun event. So, with this convenient science in mind, where should you picture your next mini-vacation? Two words: Carmel Valley. If the gorgeous name wasn’t enough to win you over, the weather is perfect (not too warm and there’s always a breeze), and the bountiful nature gives it a clear I’m-out-of-the-city-serenity. I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Carmel Valley (thanks to Chevrolet) with my work wife (because happy work wife, happy life, am I right?). Below, find my total guide to this beautiful, underrated slice of California.

Where to stay

We stayed at Bernardus Lodge and Spa, my definition of the perfect spot in Northern California. Just two hours from the San Francisco airport, it’s the perfect distance for a quick mini-road trip drive. I’ll admit, the intimidating and winding valley paths were a bit of a challenge, but pulling up to the lodge’s long, beautiful driveway made it all worth it. The staff was attentive and interested in making sure our stay was perfect–plus, the resort and amenities were everything we could have hoped for. From the multiple pools, extensive garden, top-notch restaurant, spa, croquet court, and spacious rooms, I’d recommend this hotel to anyone who takes a trip to Carmel Valley.

How to get around

We drove a Chevy Bolt EV since we knew there would be a lot of driving involved. Our trip was smoooooooth sailing in this car because it is completely electric. Honestly, the car drove so quietly that I sometimes wondered if it was still on! I’ve never owned an electric car, but the Bolt EV made me reconsider that past decision, mostly because of its convenience. You might be wondering how convenient an electric car could really be, but I’m here to tell you how easy charging this Bolt EV was. There are charging stations popping up everywhere, especially in California and even in Manhattan! Just a 30-minute charge gives you up to 93 miles. The rear-view camera and touchscreen display screen also came in handy when attempting to parallel park (not my strong suit). Overall, this car was the perfect selection for our trip from San Francisco to Carmel and Pebble Beach.

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What to do

  1. Have a wine tasting at Folktale Winery. This dreamy winery was all your wine tasting dreams and more. You can have a private tasting outside in the vineyard and also have dinner inside afterward. The wine was flowing all evening and the flavors the sommeliers said you’d identify in each wine were spot on (yes, I did taste the flavor of butterscotch and toast in one of my wines).
  2. Visit Pebble Beach. Take the scenic drive to Pebble Beach and have lunch at one of the many restaurants in the vicinity. Then head over to the golf course for a fun lesson. It will no doubt be the best golf lesson you will ever take, thanks to their experienced pros and high-tech facilities.
  3. Go to the spa at Bernardus Lodge. This one is self-explanatory, considering the hotel is known for its luxurious spa. The outdoorsy grounds simply amplify the post-massage serenity.
  4. Stargaze. Maybe it’s because I live in Manhattan where the only stars in the sky that you see are the lights on the skyscrapers surrounding you, but the stargazing in Carmel was unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. There were so many stars and planets lighting up the sky that we could’ve looked up for hours. It’s a perfect way to unwind from your activity-filled day and appreciate your weekend getaway.
  5. Walk through the hotel’s garden and then eat at the hotel restaurant with Chef Cal Stamenov. The hotel garden is the perfect place for a long pre or post-dinner stroll. It is where Chef Cal gets all of the fresh vegetables that he cooks with and has an impressive collection of rare flowers, as well as the best fresh herbs. Chef Cal will make all your foodie desires a reality.

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Thank you to Chevrolet for the all-inclusive trip.

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