Fort Bragg, California: Redwoods and Beaches Make This Seaside Town
The Perfect Escape – For One, Two or More Days
If you have just one day or a short weekend to spend on the rugged Mendocino Coast, the seaside city of Fort Bragg, California is the perfect destination.
You’ll find redwoods, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, whale watching, shopping, surfing, abalone diving, beaches, bird watching, nature photography, and much more all within a few miles of the downtown area.
If you have one day:
After breakfast, drive to the 47-acre Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, four miles south of town, where something is blooming year-around. A pet-friendly place, you can amble along the paths, photograph the gardens or stop at various bird watching sign posts and see how many you can identify.
Drive into town, have lunch, then bike or walk a few blocks to the Pudding Creek Trestle Bridge and make your way along Old Haul Road or follow a trail onto the bluffs of MacKerricher State Park. Keep an eye out for seal pups, Snowy Plovers, pelicans and whale spouts.
Or: explore Glass Beach, hunting for beautiful pieces of colored glass made smooth by the constant motion of the sea. Walking distance from downtown.
Return to the downtown to explore galleries featuring the works of local artists (there is also art in many shops and restaurants); visit the tattoo museum, or dozens of unique stores in the Depot and Company Store buildings on Main Street; sample Pacific Star’s unique wines at their downtown tasting room.
Alternative to the MacKerricher Beach Walk: take the Skunk Train from the station in downtown Fort Bragg on a 30-mile round trip through the redwoods. 2 hours.
If you have two days:
On the second day, drive six miles south of Fort Bragg to the 300-acre Point Cabrillo Light Station and Nature Preserve. The lighthouse history museum, gift shop and marine exhibit open at 10 a.m. (hours may vary in winter). From the visitor center to the lighthouse and back is a one-mile roundtrip. Allow time to include a leisurely walk along the bluffs of the nature preserve. 2 hours.
Head downtown for lunch.
After lunch, explore 100,000 years of history along the Jug Handle State Reserve Ecological Staircase, through giant redwoods to one of the world’s few pygmy forests. This is a moderate, mostly level hike with some small hills. 2 hours
Alternative: rent horses at Lari Shea’s Richochet Ranch north of Fort Bragg and ride along Ten-Mile Beach. 2 hours.
If you’re not a horse person, take Ward Avenue to the ocean-front parking lot and walk north along the Haul Road and down onto Ten-Mile Beach. Don’t go too close to the ocean, keeping a sharp eye out for sneaker waves and riptides (never turn your back on the ocean). Sit near the sand dunes and read a book or enjoy a picnic. 1 – 3 hours
In the evening, several restaurants offer music. Check with your lodging host who can tell you about local performances and make recommendations for their favorites.
If you want a longer escape, make Fort Bragg your base and explore 70 miles of Mendocino coastline and 20,000 acres of Jackson State Forest that hug Highway 1.
For more about the City of Fort Bragg, a city of 6,000 people on Northern California’s coast, visit http://www.FortBragg.com.