United States: California: Redwood Coast
A region of quiet countryside, rugged cliffs, and historic communities along empty shorelines, California’s northern coast, hugging scenic Highway One, is the essence of the United States. Featuring everything from endless coastal hiking trails, untouched groves of redwood trees, and clear streams, to steep mountains, narrow valleys, and red canyons, the only other reason to be outdoors here is to enjoy the seasonal, local food of the area.
If this trip is your starting point, drive approximately three hours upon arrival from the San Francisco or Oakland airports to Mendocino. If you’re beginning this trip at the end of a Willing Foot Napa itinerary, drive to Mendocino after breakfast at your inn.
Check into your eco-friendly hotel, perched along the rocky coast of the Pacific Ocean and made entirely of redwood timbers pulled from Mendocino’s Big River. The inn offers comfortable rooms with views of the surrounding coves, ponds, and ocean, a cozy common area with a four-sided fireplace, and delicious cuisine drawn from locally sourced products.
Spend the rest of today exploring Mendocino, wandering into galleries, shops, and cafes, and taking a stroll on the beach. With more artists per capita residing here than in any other rural county, Mendocino offers pristine beaches, sprawling forests, and seaside Victorian villages.
The hotel’s complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres hour may include items such as Moroccan lamb and mussel bisque. You may choose to make this your dinner, or venture out to one of the innovative restaurants nearby.
Wake up this morning in time for a fabulous breakfast spread at the inn, featuring fresh squeezed juices, organic eggs, homemade pastries, and whipped hot chocolate.
If you wish, the hotel’s chef will prepare a picnic lunch and provide you with an insulated backpack in which to carry it along on your hike through Russian Gulch State Park, where you’ll enjoy miles of hiking trails twisting through the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, and along a rugged headland that features the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a large, collapsed sea cave. From the beach, explore tide pools, swim, or try rock fishing. Inland, navigate to the park’s 36-foot high waterfall.
After lunch, drive south to Van Damme State Park, departing at 2pm on a two-hour a guided kayak tour through the sea caves along the coast.
Back on dry land, you may wish to continue exploring on foot along the lush Fern Canyon scenic trail system.
Return to your hotel in time for wine and hors d’oeuvres. Later, venture out to the Mendocino Coast’s historic nightclub, a former roadhouse since 1906, when the area was home to a thriving logging community. Today, simple, thoughtful dinners are on the menu, and live entertainment draws an enthusiastic crowd.
This morning after breakfast, head south along Coastal Route 1 as far as Stinson Beach where you will find miles of beaches and a 51-acre national park.
If you’re up for another hike, venture out to the beaches, which are located between Point Reyes National Seashore and Mount Tamalpias, a mountain towering over the bay north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
As your total drive time today is about five hours, we suggest heading south to Bodega Bay for lunch. Restaurant suggestions will be provided.
From Bodega Bay, continue south one hour to the Point Reyes National Seashore, stopping to observe the elephant seals spread out along the shore between December and March.
Late this afternoon, check into your quirky, seaside inn, which is surrounded by a private coastal garden. Options for dining out are numbered in Stinson Beach, with your best bet being a lovely café just around the corner from your inn.
Spend the early part of the day exploring the surrounding beaches and parks, leaving plenty of time for you to return your rental car at the airport prior to your flight.
This is just the beginning.
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