Picnics can be group affairs or romantic getaways. At Big River Beach in Mendocino, on the east side of Highway 1, you can have both. You can plop down on the warm sandy beach with a blanket for two or have a group picnic with a fire. Part of the experience is wondering at the River’s edge or walking under the Highway 1 bridge and dipping your toes into the chilly water (52-54 degrees) where the river meets the sea. With binoculars you can view nesting birds in the pines and redwoods on the opposite shore or watch as canoers and kayakers make their way up the river. This day, I came up on a different kind of entertainment: a group of art students from the Mendocino Art Center painting painting the landscape with pastels.
“I was teaching a class on what to do with all those wild pastel colors in your box,” explained local artist and gallery owner Suzi Long, owner of “The World of Suzi Long” on Ford Street near Kasten in Mendocino Village.
Driftwood fires and barbecues are allowed on Big River Beach, a part of Mendocino Headlands State Park. Is there any wonder why this is one of our picnic favorites?
Location: drive on Highway 1 a couple of hundred yards south of Mendocino Village and make a left at the north end of the Big River bridge. The road takes you to a parking area along the beach and river.
Supplies: Harvest Market on Lansing or Corners of the Mouth market, Mendocino Deli and Lu’s Kitchen on Ukiah.