As one of NorCal’s popular getaway destinations, Mendocino, California is widely known for its coastal beauty, elevated cuisine and luxe accommodations. But what surprises many is the fact that it’s home to some very special attractions that separate this county from most. From a sanctuary for endangered African animals to the famed beach made of glass, it’s a unique place that offers more than just epic scenery.
First things, first! Get settled at one of Mendocino’s beautiful ocean-facing properties. Brewery Gulch Inn is situated on a windswept bluff-top nestled within redwoods and rolling meadows overlooking the coast, so don’t be surprised when you walk out and see a herd of deer or hawks in flight above.
One step into the property’s enormous redwood doors and you feel right at home. At the center of Brewery Gulch Inn is the cozy The Great Room, which boasts a four-sided glass and steel fireplace along with an incredible view of Smuggler’s Cove which can be seen from within red-wood trimmed French doors.
Light floods into this grand room where guests are invited to relax, read, play games and do puzzles, peruse through DVDs or simply sink into one of its plush couches. It’s also where guests are invited to dine during breakfast or dinner buffets, both of which incorporate locally-sourced products and seasonal fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
The accommodations perfectly compliment the coastal setting with earth tones, fireplaces, comfy down beds and luxe touches like Molton Brown products in their well-lit bathrooms.
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Moreover, and perhaps most impressively, is the fact that this property is made of 150-year old eco-salvaged, first growth virgin redwood timbers and is certified by the Green Hotels Association for their commitment to protecting the environment.
Celebrating 75 years is the nearby Little River Inn, a sprawling ocean-front property featuring classic Victorian architecture, a golf course, spa and tennis. Each of the inn’s accommodations has ocean views (yes, it’s that close to the dramatic coastline!), with many offering fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs.
It’s a charming retreat that’s teeming with history. The original inn was built in 1853 and to this day continues to maintain its tradition of family-run hospitality. For hungry guests, the Little River Inn also has a main dining room serving upscale cuisine with coastal favorites “flat iron” steak Diane and bouillabaisse, and the Ole’s Whale Watch bar serving bar bites like fish tacos, calamari, burgers, oysters on the half shell and more.
When it comes to activities, Mendocino has something for everyone. One of its most popular attractions is the Skunk Train, which takes guests on a ride through the majestic redwoods, over picture-perfect trestle bridges and into the peaceful Noyo River Estuary. This iconic bright red train has been taking passengers for rides since 1885. It’s a peaceful way to experience nature and learn about the history of the train and area.
For more adventurous guests, a brand new excursion has been unveiled for the summer season: railbikes! On the very same historic route that the Skunk Train takes, you’re invited to hop on two-person railbikes that allow you to pedal through the Pudding Creek Estuary in sheer bliss. Wildlife such as blue herons, osprey and more surround you as you make your way through the magical forest. Sign up to do this before you board the Skunk Train!
Located in nearby Point Arena is the B. Bryan Preserve, a place that you’d never expect in Mendocino. If you’ve ever dreamed of going on a safari, without having to travel around the world, this is for you.
This private reserve is committed to the breeding and preservation of African hoof Stock, along with educating their guests on their animals and the dangers they face. Think giraffes, zebras, antelope and more, including rare and endangered species.
They offer daily tours of their grounds on which animals roam free on 110 acres, allowing for unreal up-close-and-personal encounters. The coolest part of the tour? The chance to kiss giraffes at the end of the experience!
Need more nature in your life? Stop by Catch a Canoe & Bicycles Too where you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, bikes and canoes, of course! You’ll have the chance to experience the beauty of the Big River Estuary, the second longest in the state, which is largely untouched and as rugged as can be. Harbor seals, otters and more are ready and waiting to greet you along your adventure as you make your way down the 8.3 waterway.
And for those that just want to relax, listen to the rolling waves and maybe collect a few treasures? Grab an ice cream from Cowlick’s Hand Made Ice Cream and stroll along Fort Bragg’s famous Glass Beach. Once a trash dump from 1906-1967, today this beach is full of smooth, colorful pieces of sea glass that once were just broken bottles.