Last Updated on June 15, 2023
Ocean sunsets, rocking chairs, and sheep-filled pastures. These were the first things we noticed as my husband and I stepped out of the car at historic Mission Ranch in Carmel by the Sea. The stunningly picturesque property is located in the artsy California seaside town on the Monterey Peninsula.
The ranch, sprawls over a serene pastoral setting with rolling hills surrounded by lush meadows and a stunning backdrop of the wild Pacific Big Sur coast and spectacular views of Point Lobos State Preserve.
History of Mission Ranch
Originally owned by Juan Romero, a Native American, Mission Ranch consisted of 160 acres encompassing the 1771 Carmel Mission founded by Father Junipero Serra. In the 1850s, the property became one of California’s first dairies.
Potatoes were farmed for the Sierra gold miners by The Martin family, who owned the ranch for 60 years.
During World War II, the ranch operated as a private club, then as an officers’ club for the Army and Navy troops. Windows were blackened to prevent a possible Japanese attack. Dance bands and lively bar scenes were synonymous with the ranch’s rollicking reputation.
As time passed, portions of the property were sold to the Carmel School District and the State of California.
While stationed at the Army’s Fort Ord in 1950, the 21-year-old Clint Eastwood made his way one off-duty day to Mission Ranch, and, as he tells the story, “It was love at first sight.” Years later, while serving as mayor of Carmel, the longtime resident and famous actor rescued the dilapidated property from its impending fate as a condominium development.
In 1986, Eastwood purchased the 22-acre ranch which includes scenic wetlands stretching to the bay and restored the ranch to its former glory. A frequent visitor to the ranch over the years, he was often seen mingling with the guests.
Mission Ranch Accommodations
Thirty-one uniquely distinct accommodations are located within ten farm-like buildings nestled among ancient cypress and eucalyptus trees. Magenta bougainvillea spills from balconies and fragrant, flowering plants decorate its porches and walkways.
Whether guests prefer a crashing-surf ocean view or a lush and peaceful verdant meadow setting, one thing is for certain– there is a sense that time slows down here, or even moves in a backward motion.
The rustic Bunkhouse Cottage with its wraparound patio is the ranch’s oldest building on property. The Main Barn and Farmhouse each have six comfortable and inviting rooms. The Farmhouse’s common living area is ideal for guest gatherings. The charming, vine-covered Honeymoon Cottage is the preferred choice for a romantic get-away.
Another favorite spot is the Meadowview complex whose lower rooms open to an outside patio deck and upstairs rooms sport a private balcony. All rooms feature amazing views of the rich, green hillsides and/or the Pacific Ocean.
The Ranch Triplex includes two rooms on the main floor and a charming upstairs room with a private balcony. We stayed here on a previous visit many years ago, and it was spacious and very appealing. Like many of the rooms at the ranch, ours included a warm, welcoming fireplace and rocking chairs, perfect for those chilly California evenings
On our current visit, we opted for The Hayloft, a cozy private room with a pot-bellied stove and Jacuzzi tub.
Mission Ranch Restaurant
The Creamery, which once supplied the county with butter and cheese, now houses the popular Mission Ranch Restaurant providing one of the most spectacular restaurant views in the area.
Indoor seating includes a fireplace. The large, expansive outdoor heated patio provides drop-dead gorgeous views of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the near distance and Point Lobos with the Pacific Ocean’s crashing waves.
Guests and local residents alike huddle around the piano with a martini, glass of wine or Irish whiskey for a nightly sing-a-long.
Live music is also a big draw of the Sunday Jazz Buffet Brunch. Moderate prices, delectable American cuisine, outstanding service, and views to die for make this place one of the most popular in Carmel.
Mission Ranch’s famous sheep graze contentedly in a nearby meadow.
Proximity to Carmel
Though Mission Ranch is quiet and bucolic, it’s only nine blocks from artsy and eclectic downtown Carmel and eight blocks from Carmel’s sheltered, spectacular, silky white beach.
Spectacular Point Lobos State Reserve is less than four miles away. This beautiful promontory has been called “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world” and “the crown jewel of the state park system.”
Located at the north end of Big Sur’s wildly wondrous coast, Point Lobos, with its stunning ocean vistas, rare Monterey cypress and pine groves, wildflowers, sea otters and sea lions is an absolute not-to-be-missed “stop the car” experience. Easy to moderate hikes provide even more spellbinding views of the rugged coast in almost every direction.
Here’s how Eastwood described Mission Ranch: “where I would have liked to have been raised if I had had a choice…It kind of gets into your blood, this countryside, and the people. So, to me it represents my family. And it represents a quieter life. That is why I guess I bought the Mission Ranch to begin with, because I wanted to preserve the history here.”
Mr. Eastwood, we’re very glad you did!beachbeachfrontluxurysmall town