Marin, California: Straus Home Ranch

Straus Home Ranch

Straus Home Ranch

This once-sleepy stretch of the California coastal highway –  just north of San Francisco in West Marin – has become a hotbed of innovation in artisan / organic / sustainable food and farmland conservation movements also chronicled in the recent, excellent documentary film, Rebels with a Cause – featuring interviews with the Straus family matriarch, Ellen Straus, who co-founded MALT, the nation’s first agricultural land trust.

Food on the home ranch

Food on the home ranch

“Years ago, my siblings and I launched Straus Family Creamery – the first organic dairy west of the Mississippi – which is owned by our older brother. Now, separately, my two sisters (Vivien and Miriam) and I have renovated our family’s Civil War-era home into a vacation rental,” says Michael Straus of Straus Home Ranch. Alas – and now the rental is on the market for those to feel a little closer to the excellent Straus family brand (complete with recyclable glass bottles and farm raised milk).

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

We think it’s a perfect home-base for exploring the artisan cheese revolution (assisted, of course, by the iPhone app created by Vivien, CheeseTrail.org), kayaking on Tomales Bay, hiking in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, or simply escaping to what Michael likes to think of as the “Lost Coast of West Marin”.

  • Overnight: $500 / night

straushomeranch.com

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Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

A View of Carmel-by-the-sea

A View of Carmel-by-the-sea

It’s no secret that September and October offer the best weather months of the year in Carmel-by-the-Sea with average highs of 72 degrees.  Add Indian Summer conditions to a sizzling lineup of food, wine and film festivals, and there is even more incentive for travelers to visit Carmel this fall as most events are within walking distance of the village’s more than 40 charming lodging properties.

Here’s a closer look at the festivals scheduled in Carmel during September and October so that you can get out and get in on the fun:

  • Taste of Carmel (Oct. 2-5).  Fresh from last year’s successful 25th anniversary, Taste of Carmel has announced a big expansion for 2014. Typically held for one evening, the event – presented by the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Union Bank – will now be held over four days.  Festivities will begin with “The Royal Bash” on Thursday evening, Oct. 2, which will feature dozens of area restaurants and wineries offering food and wine, as well as live music, at the Carmel Mission Courtyard.  The event’s expansion will be evident beginning the next day with a food tour in downtown Carmel and a bicycle tour through Carmel Valley wineries.  Other Taste of Carmel highlights include a Winemaker Dinner, Dessert and Wine Tasting Lunch and several auctions.  For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 800.550.4333 or 831.624.2522 or visit tasteofcarmel.com.
Carmel Plaza Courtyard

Carmel Plaza Courtyard

  • Carmel International Film Festival (Oct. 15-19). From an opening night concert, screenings of independent award-winning films, art shows, wine tastings and gallery crawls, to parties with filmmakers, composers and artists, it’s little surprise why the fourth annual event (formerly known as Carmel Art & Film Festival) attracts a diverse group of attendees and filmmakers.  More than 125 films will be screened over five days in unique venues, including Sunset Cultural Center, Golden Bough Theater, Cherry Center for the Arts, Carmel Youth Center Theater, Carmel Youth Center Auditorium, Carmel High School Performing Art Center, Carmel Beach, Devendorf Park, 13th Avenue Beach, Carmel City Hall, as well as multiple galleries and wineries.  For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit carmelartandfilm.com or call 831.625.3700.
  • Days and Nights Festival (Sept. 25-28).  Founded and curated by Philip Glass, the festival returns with four days of performances at Carmel’s Sunset Cultural Center and in Big Sur.  Sunset Center highlights include the airing of a film, “Icarus At The Edge of Time,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27; and an evening of music and spoken word, “Ira Glass: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host,” at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28.  For the festival’s complete schedule and more details, or to purchase tickets, visit daysandnightsfestival.com or call 831.626.3340.
  • Carmel Mission Fiesta (Sept. 28).  This year will mark its 50th year of the Fiesta, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28.  Located on the beautiful grounds of the Carmel Mission, the Fiesta will feature a barbecue, drinks, live music, arts and crafts, and games for children.  For more information, call 831.624.8322
Carmel hotels are some of the finest

Carmel hotels are some of the finest

It’s also never been easier to get to Carmel. Monterey Regional Airport (MRY), a 10-minute drive from downtown Carmel, has recently added direct flights to and from San Diego.  Other direct flight routes include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

From its incomparable white-sand beach to many choices of distinctive meeting venues and lodging properties, Carmel-by-the-Sea has it all. 

www.carmelcalifornia.com