This November and December, the scenic Mendocino Coast presents new experiences and thrilling treats that will delight every type of traveler. Un-crowded Mendocino in winter is the perfect getaway from the stresses of life. Perspective is gained at the foot of thousand-year-old giant redwoods, the ocean unfurls as far as the eye can see, and a cozy fireside warms the heart. The slower small-town pace lends itself to a laid-back holiday season.
The historic Little River Inn, a classic coastal resort overlooking the Pacific, appeals to all ages, with rolling lawns for kids to romp on and a private trail that leads to miles of hiking in Van Damme State Park. You will find everything you need on-site: an Audubon-certified golf course, regulation tennis courts, an award-winning restaurant serving California Cuisine and locally sourced delicacies, and a sheltered beach teeming with aquatic life right across the street. Their brand new the Distance Learning Family Package offers families a unique way to experience education together with the outdoors as the classroom. The five-day self-guided itinerary includes lessons on botany, tidal sea life, geology, astronomy, and history. The experience includes a private guided walk with a local naturalist and a safari tour to see giraffes and zebras.
Noyo Harbor Inn, Restaurant and Tavern is a gracious hilltop property built in 1867, with sweeping views over a quaint working harbor to the Pacific beyond. Lovingly restored and refurbished rooms throughout provide spacious comfort while retaining some of the exquisite features left by the Norwegian shipbuilders who embellished the inn. Many of the elegantly appointed rooms boast fireplaces, soaking tubs, and private balconies. New this winter is the Winter Ocean Catch Adventure package in partnership with All Aboard Adventures, an unprecedented opportunity to harvest some of the sweet Dungeness crab for which Mendocino is justly famous. Also on offer, fishing for coveted Rock Cod, also known as Pacific Snapper, which seafood aficionados hail as an incredible find. Noyo Harbor Inn’s prime location means you can stroll from your rooms right down to the harbor.
Perched high on a bluff top overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Brewery Gulch Inn reigns cathedral-like over the dramatic Mendocino coast. Constructed in 2001 from 150-year old redwood reclaimed from the nearby Big River, this architectural masterpiece is located on an historic piece of land that was once home to Mendocino’s first brewery. The 10 romantic rooms – most with private decks – all look out over picture-perfect views of Smuggler’s Cove. Each of the rooms boasts soothing earth tones, feather beds cloaked in Sferra linens, Molton Brown products, Himalayan bath salts and thick Abyss towels. Included with each stay is a daily cooked-to-order breakfast, and an evening Wine Hour, now featuring sleek redwood Mendo Boxes showcasing an array of delectable appetizers. The boxes are crafted from the same eco-harvested redwood from which the inn was constructed.
The Inn at Newport Ranch is four hours north of San Francisco at the gateway to the wild and majestic Lost Coast. This bijoux resort is situated on 2,000+ pristine private acres and boasts 50-mile panoramic views across the Pacific. You have exclusive access to the vast property that encompasses virgin redwood forests, grasslands and beach. Many opt to tour the acreage on horseback or book a private UTV tour – there is so much to see. Starting in December, you can Forage for Incredible Edibles with a new package that focuses on mushrooms, one of the edibles for which Mendocino is renowned. Included in this romp: a half-day tour of a 2000-acre timber preserve with resident guides, a Mushroom-themed picnic lunch, complete with sweet Candy Cap mushroom ice cream, a fireside tea and informative lecture on the medicinal properties of mushrooms, and a mushroom-infused dinner.
The California Western Railroad's Skunk Train is a 135-year-old heritage train line that takes visitors deep into ancient Redwood forests, along riparian corridors, and past some of the most unchanged scenery in Northern California, including trees that are more than 1,000 years old. Since 1885, the Skunk Train has carried passengers along the Redwood Route, and today a ride on the train charms the whole family (including Fido). Beginning in late November, kids and kids-at-heart can take a ride on the Magical Christmas Train, a festive jaunt with holiday music playing in the background. Author Shellie Hart reads her classic, “Skippy the TrainDeer,” Santa makes a socially-distanced appearance, and everyone goes home with a goody bag. Christmas trains run on weekends starting on November 27 out of Willits and December 5 out of Fort Bragg.
Note that the businesses above have all been self-certified to host visitors to the utmost safety standards and strictest cleaning protocols, above and beyond what is mandated by the Mendocino County Public Health Office. Masks must be worn in the county when not eating and drinking and people are asked to stay six feet away from anyone not in their household group. Happy holidays!
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