coastal region of Mendocino County has long been a popular vacation
destination with the picturesque art colony of Mendocino being
the most well known draw. But we have also grown to love the funky,
diverse, and extremely friendly town of Fort Bragg. Here's a bit
of introduction to Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and a few local attractions.
We've also tossed in some about some interesting places to check
out for those coming here from the Bay Area.
its origins as a logging and commercial fishing center, this town
of 6,500 has evolved into a diverse city serving the needs of
more than 25,000 residents of the North Coast. The last of the
logging mills closed in 2002, but there is still a small commercial
fishing fleet in Noyo Harbor with a good selection of charters
for whale watching and salmon fishing cruises.
the California gray whales is a popular pastime, as they migrate
to their summer waters in Mexico (January and February) and then
as they return to the frigid waters of the Bering Sea during March
and April. Abalone diving and sport fishing are major draw, as
are the numerous dive shops and scenic cruises out of the harbor.
Bragg is a perfect site for vacation getaways, with dozens of
annual celebrations and festivals, including the Whale Festival,
Winesong, and Paul Bunyan Days. Fort Bragg is also the site of
the famous Skunk Train depot, which provides scenic excursions
through the local redwood forests. Dating from 1885, the Skunk
was originally a logging train; today it carries passengers along
a 40-mile route through mountains and redwoods to the inland town
of Willits and back. Discover hidden treasures at Glass Beach.
And be sure not to miss the numerous museums in the area for more
about local history and culture. The Guest House Museum on Main
Street was built entirely of redwood in 1892 and is filled with
pictures and artifacts depicting the areas rich history.
Downtown fort Bragg also offers a variety of shopping and dining
choices, including antique shops, boutiques, art galleries and
dozens of restaurants of all types and price levels. If you like
high-quality microbrewed beer make sure to check out the Mendocino
Brewing Company on Route 1 on the north end of Fort Bregg.
Bragg has a number of very good food markets including a Safeway
and the Harvest Market, which is more gourmet-oriented. The Safeway
is right on Route 1 in Fort Bragg and the Harvest Market is at
the intersection of Route 1 and Route 20, just south of the Noyo
of Fort Bragg where we are, Route 1 becomes very lightly populated,
running past miles of exquisite coastal vistas with only one small
settlement, Westport, along the 25 miles before it abruptly turns
inward. The reason for Route 1's shift from the sea is the mysterious
Lost Coast of California. Due north, where no highway could possibly
run, the King Range vaults out of the sea, rising over 4,000 feet
in less than three miles. It is a wilderness inhabited by black
bears and bald eagles, with an abandoned lighthouse and a solitary
beach piled with ancient Indian shell mounds.
the town of Mendocino, which sits on a headland above the sea,
you will discover New England incarnate, California style. Settled
in 1852, the town was built largely by Yankees who decorated their
village with wooden towers, Victorian homes, and a Gothic Revival
Presbyterian church. The town, originally a vital lumber port,
has become a well-known and popular artists colony. With
a shoreline honeycombed by beaches and a villagescape capped with
a white church steeple, Mendocino is a beautiful spot. The village
is surrounded on three sides by gentle trails that meander along
the rugged coastline, providing spectacular views of sea arches
(like the one in front of our house here at Whale Rock), ancient
blow holes, hidden grottos, and the ever-changing Pacific Ocean.
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse offers a leisurely stroll through the
meadow and along the windswept bluffs of the 300 acre Point Cabrillo
Preserve. You will learn a little coastal ecology and some Mendocino
history, including the story of the Frolic, the 1850 shipwreck
that changed the north coast forever.
is also a great place to shop and eat with dozens of small shops,
galleries, and boutiques and a salivating array of restaurants
and cafes. To earn that four course dinner, you can rent mountain
bikes to explore Mendocino Village or to bike through the redwoods
and fern canyons of the State parks.
Parks and Notable Attractions
State Park, just north of Fort Bragg, includes the northern
three miles of the Ten Mile Coastal trail which runs along the
western edge of a 1,285 acre sand dune complex known as the Ten
Mile Beach and Dunes. The park is n excellent whale viewing point,
as well as a great place to catch the antics of local surfers.
Hiking trails abound along the coastline, with five state parks
within 15 miles. Spectacular waterfalls, as well as fern grottos
and canyons, dot the countryside.
Botantical Gardens, just south of Fort Bragg, is an extraordinary
public garden, situated directly on the Pacific Ocean. The gentle
climate of the area makes this coastal preserve, with three miles
of luxuriant pathways, attractive every season of the year. Gardens
of heathers, perennials, succulents and rhododendrons, to name
a few, grow in colorful profusion here, and trails lead past ivy,
ferns and dwarf conifers to a coastal bluff with vistas up and
down the rugged shoreline. Don't miss their plants sales in the
In spring (April 26-27, 2003) and fall (September 20-21, 2003).
drive from the Bay Area is one of the most beautiful in all of
California. Route 128 from 101 to the coast will first take you
through rolling hills of the Anderson Valley dotted with great
wineries and orchards, then through a wonderfully dark and mysterious
stretch of old-growth redwoods, and finally slipping past the
Navarro River to the renowned vistas along the Pacific Coast.
On that last stretch winding north along Pacific Coast Highway
to Mendocino and Fort Bragg, you'll cruise past the seaside villages
of Elk, Albion, and Little River, which gaze down on the ocean
from rocky heights. The coastline is a stunning intaglio of river
valleys and soft and green forested ridges that fall way into
pocket beaches and narrow coves.
your visit to coatal Mendocino Coutny. We're sure you'll find
the views majestic, the people charming, and the overall experience
you would like to learn more details about the beautiful Mendocino
coast, try these links: