Carmel Valley: Large homes and award-winning schools attract families to affluent suburb
History: Carmel Creek, which runs through this neighborhood, has attracted Native American tribes for centuries. During California’s rancho period, the area was known as Cordero. After the gold rush, settlers moved in, and the land was used mainly for horse farms and agriculture. The Grand Del Mar golf course was once a lima bean farm. Today’s master-planned community was commissioned in 1974 and was originally called North City West. Today it is becoming the hub of the region’s biotech industry.
How it got its name: The Carmelite Sisters of Mercy established a dairy farm and monastery on the south side of Carmel Creek in 1905. Residents of North City West looking for a more appealing name picked Carmel Valley in 1991.
Landmarks: The community’s master plan called for development only on the mesa tops, leaving the canyons untouched to provide open space and recreation. The area now boasts local parks and mini parks, plus hiking and equestrian trails. While little is left of the valley’s past, the Carmel Valley Cemetery, behind St. Terese of Carmel Catholic Church, is still the final resting place for some of the area’s pioneers, including the nuns who settled here.
Notable locals: Renowned artist Robert Irwin calls Carmel Valley home. Among his works is the 30-foot acrylic prism in the Federal Courthouse downtown.
Things to do: Check out the Winter Mela, an Indian cultural event with henna, yoga and dance, hosted by the Shiva Vishnu Temple in February.
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