The clean crisp air makes you lightheaded. The Mendocino coast is stunning. Your digs are perfectly located for a no-drive weekend. Your bags are unpacked, your car is parked. Take off your watch and turn off that phone. Slow down, you’re on Mendo time.
Wildlife, waves, wilderness and wine. Fort Bragg has them all. Pacific headlands filled with mammals and birds. Below the bluffs, hidden coves with concealed beaches appear and vanish with shifting tides. Open grass and meadowlands give way to woodlands of Redwoods, conifers, deciduous trees and shrubs.
Sleep on the trail
Your no-drive weekend begins at the Beachcomber Inn on CA Hwy 1. All rooms at this hotel and spa, are ocean front and have direct ocean and Coastal Trail access. Park your car and use one of the inn’s loaner bikes to explore the trail or ride into town. Enjoy the on-site spa, watch the sunset from your room or on the deck overlooking the Pacific. Chill, this place was made for relaxing.
Dinner, beer and jazz
A five-minute bike ride from the Beachcomber, North Coast Brewery is the home of award winning craft beer. Across the street, the brewery’s Tap Room, serves mouthwatering pub grub. Jazz is staged for dinner and after-dinner shows. Stop in the bar for a sampler of North Coast’s delectable beer.
Breakfast on the headlands
Take Beachcomber’s continental breakfast outside to the ocean front deck, and grab a seat. Heaters are on when there’s fog or chill. Crashing surf, sea birds, ravens and songbirds provide a ‘beach life’ sound track.
Hop on your bike and ride to town for the makings of a picnic. Stop first at Roundman’s Smokehouse. A part of the community for over 20-years, Roundman’s uses locally sourced fish, meat, poultry and cheeses for their smoky delights. Their sausages are heavenly with verities made from beef, pork, lamb and poultry.
A block away is Mendocino Cookie Company. Grab a few of their fresh baked cookies for your picnic. Use the handy walk-up window next to the sidewalk tables. Try a coffee or tea drink and chat with other cyclists that often stop here after a trail ride.
Coast the Coastal Trail
Head back to the Coastal Trail and ride south. This section of the trail borders the old lumber mill site. Interpretive panels along the way illuminate history and nature in the area. Local artisan created benches and picnic tables provide spectacular scenery for picnics, wave and whale watching.
Small Plates for dinner
Tapas is the perfect way to sample local food. Mayan Fusion‘s new home on Main Street uses Mendocino County’s abundant organic ingredients to create Chef Silver’s award winning small plates with a Mayan flare. Entrees, soups and salads are complimented with local wine, beer and cocktails.
Dessert and music
After dinner, Headlands Coffeehouse is the perfect spot for dessert and live music performed by local musicians. This casual eatery and coffee shop is a favorite of locals. Free Wi-Fi is available here and everywhere in downtown Fort Bragg.
Where wetlands meet the Pacific
After breakfast, turn north on the Coastal Trail and walk or bike to MacKerricher State Park. The wetlands meet the Pacific here. Wildlife viewing, beach combing and wave watching are at their finest. Camping and picnicking spots are available along the edge of the wetlands where they form a shallow lake. A boardwalk meanders across the headlands. The photo ops are unmatchable.
Lunch in the harbor
As you head out of town, turn off Hwy 1 and drive down to Noyo Harbor for lunch and a stroll. Local fresh seafood is served in all the restaurants. The best view of Noyo Harbor, 90′ tall Noyo Bridge and boats coming in and out of the harbor is Django’s Rough Bar Café. Their sheltered deck has a small stage where live music is performed Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. The food is local, fresh and delicious. This casual eatery serves local craft beer and wines.
The harbor is home to commercial fishing boats, party boats and sport fishing excursion boats. You’ll find shops renting and selling gear for kayaking, diving and fishing. Be certain to stop at one of the fish markets and take home a taste of Fort Bragg and Noyo Harbor.
Fort Bragg’s small size makes it a perfect ‘no-drive weekend’ destination. The spectacular beauty, friendly locals, great food, luscious wine and casual lifestyle make it ideal for a short week, long weekend.