Northern California’s Playground
There’s a tranquil and scenic path through the Redwood Forest and along rolling hills that leads to a remote coastal destination surrounded by magnificent beauty. Mendocino County is located in Northern California, just a few hours above San Francisco, and for lovers of nature and the beautiful outdoors, this region can’t be beat.
From 1852-1882 Mendocino served as the primary supplier of redwood lumber to California and was its main lumber source well into the 1920s. Today the area is known as the North Coast’s most exciting recreational spot. Also known for its craft beers, delicious wines and dramatic coastal bluffs, Mendocino is considered the perfect romantic getaway.
Although the drive can be long it’s certainly worth the time and effort. It’s at least a 2-hour trek by car from the nearest airport, but the journey is just as captivating as the arrival. The route offers spectacular vistas of California’s northern coast with landscapes that vary from flourishing meadows to dramatic ocean bluffs.
The most common course to reach Mendocino is through Highway 128, and just about the time drivers feel they may need to stop the car and stretch, they’ll find Lula Tasting Room, located off the highway at 2800 Guntly Road. This boutique winery, located in the Anderson Valley, features award-winning handcrafted wines. Guests are greeted by the winery dog, Honey, as they enter the 22-acre property to enjoy wine-tasting at the redwood bar. The knowledgeable staff is friendly and happy to enlighten guests about the wines as well as the history of the area. The pet-friendly tasting room is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There is an abundance of activities to enjoy once in Mendocino County, but the most unique is a ride on the 131-year-old Skunk Train. This historic train runs through tunnels, over bridges along the coastal Redwood Route as a narrator describes the fascinating history of this famous logging region. A concession stand on board offers munchies and fresh popcorn, soft drink, cocktails, beer and wine.
The Train, which has operated since 1885 has been called one of the “Top 10 Family Activities in Southern California” by National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Two Boarding Locations
Fort Bragg Boarding
100 W Laurel St
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
299 E Commercial St
Willits, CA 95490
There are plenty of lodging options, primarily inns and bed and breakfast facilities, but two exceptional properties are a must-visit.
Brewery Gulch Inn
This historic inn is one mile south of the historic town of Mendocino and sits on a hill overlooking Smuggler’s Cove and the Pacific Ocean. It is set on three acres comprised of mature pine trees, redwoods, and a variety of native plants. The lush grounds immediately captivate visitors who become equally enchanted by the inn’s cozy ambiance.
As guests enter the reception area, surrounded by redwood beams and paneling, they are greeted by a friendly staff member who is eager to help them feel at home. The service team is kind and accommodating and the on-site concierge helps insure the needs of each guest is met.
Brewery Gulch Inn features ten individual guest rooms, eight with private redwood decks, and the décor utilizes ancient redwood timbers that have been salvaged from Mendocino’s Big River.
The guest rooms are marked by unique details that reflect the character of the surrounding environment. Each room has an ocean view and faces the stunning grounds. Rooms feature a gas fireplace, posh linens, an inviting seating area, a hardwood desk, and a flat-screen television. The land-lines in each room are provided for local and domestic long-distance service, free of charge. There is complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the inn, a big plus for those who need to check in with the office or home.
The rate includes a full breakfast, evening wine hour and a light dinner buffet. The inn offers organic and regional produce and the food is expertly prepared. Guests are treated each morning to a cooked-to-order breakfast which can be served in the Great Room, the adjoining deck or in the guest room. Picnic lunches, wine & cheese, and romance baskets are available and can be arranged with the concierge.
The concierge is also able to arrange activities such as kayaking, scuba diving, biking, golf, tennis, horseback riding, hiking trails, nature walks, wine tours, local dining reservations and spa appointments.
Brewery Gulch Inn has received a number of prestigious awards such as the American Automobile Association Four Diamond Award Recipient 2003-2014; Designated a Green Hotel in 2007; member and partner in The Green Hotels Association; Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program member; Chosen in 2004 by iloveinn.com as California Inn of the Year; Chosen in 2002 by the American Historic Inns as one of the Top 10 Most Romantic Inns of the Year.
Brewery Gulch Inn is delightful and is the perfect venue for small conferences, retreats, reunions, weddings, and special events.
Inn at Newport Ranch
The newly constructed Inn at Newport Ranch is set on a coastal cattle ranch on the site of the former town of Newport, 20 miles north of the town of Mendocino. The ranch is a unique private property that features more than a mile of oceanfront, three miles of ridge tops, panoramic coastal views and more than 20 miles of hiking and riding trails through redwoods and along the coast.
The Inn at Newport Ranch was founded by Will Jackson, who purchased a vacation home in 1987, now known as Sea Drum, adjacent to the ranch. Since then, Will and his family have added to the original ranch, which now totals more than 2,000 acres.
In 2001, Will and his family built the Inn to share the ranch with visitors interested in exploring the property and surrounding region. Will, a likeable and personable gentleman, visits frequently and can often be found on-site mulling with guests and sharing tales about the history of the property and its fascinating construction.
The Inn is the epitome of custom craftsmanship. The structures have a number of unique architectural features, including a 20-foot-wide walk-in stone fireplace and a building supported by 24 individual redwood trees. The hallway in the Main Inn is paneled with redwood boards up to five feet wide, and the living room flooring is 30-inch old growth redwood planks. The use of these natural and local materials honors the bounty of the area, and helps to connect guests to the surrounding environment.
Each room has features that incorporate unique architectural elements: Paneling and a mantel piece from the original ranch house; headboards from single burls and redwood slabs; fireplaces with single stone mantels; wood floors from antique stadium seats and old beams; door knobs, handles and coat hooks made from tree branches, bones and kitchen implements; a 32-foot banquet table which seats up to 34 people made from a single redwood slab; tables made from burls & single boards with tree trunks and branches for bases; lamps made from trees, and a myriad of other innovative creations.
The Main Inn building has three guest-rooms on the second floor, each with a private bath, and all have access to the 6-person hot tub on top of the water tower. This point offers majestic views of the ocean and surrounding property, and is a perfect spot to watch the stunning sunsets.
The Redwood House has three suites, each with distinctive architecture, a living room, dining area, small kitchen, fireplace, and outdoor terrace with an outdoor grill and views of the ocean. Two of the suites have their own private hot tub, while the third has a private sauna.
Barb’s place is the most private room, and has its own small terrace with a seating area and a view of the ocean.
Sea Drum is the owners’ ocean-side vacation home. It has four bedrooms, one of which has two bunks and a double bed, and each room has a private bath. Sea Drum is available to guests when the owner is not visiting the property.
A stay at the Inn at Newport Ranch features complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients, an evening happy hour featuring complimentary hors d’oeuvres, one cocktail or glass of wine per guest, and soft beverages. Lunch service and picnic lunches are available upon request.
Happy hour affords the guests an opportunity to get to know the other visitors and it’s a fun time of socializing and sharing a drink and appetizers. Hosts and innkeepers Patricia and Singyn Hunter are warm and gracious and create a sense of repose that sets guest at ease. Singyn is the award-winning chef on-site and responsible for creating the delectable meals offered at the Inn.
There is plenty of space throughout the property where guests can escape for quiet time or to find interesting activities. The recreation rooms in the lower levels of both the Main Inn and the Redwood House feature 60-inch flat screen televisions. There is a small library with books, board games, and a fireplace with a cozy seating area.
There is complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the property and concierge services for arranging activities such as charter boat fishing, kayaking, golf, tennis, wine tours and dining reservations. An on-site spa offering massage and facial services is also available. Horseback riding can be arranged through a nearby stable.
One of the most fun and illuminating activities at the Inn is the guided 3-hour ATV adventure safari, which travels along the dramatic coast, ridgetops and through the redwood forests. The staff who escort guests on this tour share accounts of the region’s history as well as stories about the property and vast topography.
With on-site meeting rooms, in-house catering service and special event spaces, the Inn at Newport Ranch is perfect for vacations, small conferences, retreats, family reunions, weddings, and special events.
The easiest way to get to Mendocino from Southern California is to fly into Santa Rosa airport on Alaska Airlines, rent a car and drive two and a half hours. For a more luxurious flight experience (and for about the same price as a commercial airline), try Jet Suite X, which flies out of Burbank to Oakland. Although this adds about an hour to the drive, it’s a wonderful alternative to the tradition commercial flight experience.
3625 East Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 230
Westlake Village, CA, 91362
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