Distance from SF: 130 miles; 2 hour drive
Why: White sand beaches, a European vibe, shops and art galleries, really good restaurants, and the fact that Clint Eastwood was once the mayor.
Three things to do while you’re there:
1. Drink cocktails at Mission Ranch. You may see Clint Eastwood (he’s the owner), but even if you don’t, the 22-acre ranch has amazing views of the Point Lobos, Carmel River State Beach, and the Pacific Ocean. Plus, you can watch sheep graze while you sip. Double plus, there’s a piano bar. Basically, you’re never going to want to leave.
2. Bike the 17-mile drive; it’s a lot shorter than you think. Promise. You can even rent bikes from Adventures by the Sea for $30 a day. Pack a picnic to enjoy along the way.
3. Go wine tasting in Carmel Valley Village. It’s about 11 miles outside of Carmel, but there are lots of good tasting rooms like Bernardus, Georis Winery, and Mercy Vineyards.