From the issue Movable Monterey Feast
With its consistent warm weather and laid-back charm, Carmel Valley is a locals' favorite for escaping coastal fog. Bring your dog and head to Garland Ranch Regional Park. For a nice hike through a variety of terrain, cross a small bridge over the willow-covered banks of Carmel River and combine the Lupine, Waterfall, and Mesa trails. This trio loops together a 4-mile jaunt that begins in a honey-hued meadow blooming with lupine, then winds through a rainforest-like canopy with wooden bridges and a seasonal waterfall and tops off at an expansive grassy plateau. The highlight here is tranquil, fish-filled Mesa Pond. It's a good place to have a snack and savor the vast views of Carmel Valley's Mediterranean-worthy landscape. When you're ready, head back on the Mesa Trail and complete the loop.
OUTDOOR EATS: Just a few miles back toward Carmel, the lively Baja Cantina has a wooden outdoor patio festively shaded by giant red umbrellas. Try their Monterey Bay Quesadillas (shrimp and artichoke hearts) or their Rosarito Beach Fish Tacos. Live music is a staple on Sunday afternoons.
Garland Ranch Regional Park: Pick up a complimentary map at the visitor center, where the loop begins and ends. Start on the Lupine Loop Trail that borders the Carmel River. Take this up to the Waterfall Trail and follow the signs and map to Mesa Pond. Return via Mesa and Lupine Loop trails. Dog-friendly! Baja Cantina, 7166 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel; 831-625-2252.