In this issue:
- Little River Inn
- Mendocino Coast in the Movies
- Point Cabrillo lights the way
- Stunning Botanical Gardens
- The Skunk Train
- Fort Bragg Lodging
- When to visit?
- USATourist Travel Forums
- Special Travel Deals and Discounts
- Mail List Contest
Welcome to the August 2008 issue of USATourist News Magazine. Rarely do I have time to write the News Magazine while I'm traveling, but this month is different. My family and I took a road trip up the coast of California and are spending three nights here on the Mendocino Coast and it is beautiful. The air is fresh, the temperature is cool (year-round) and there isn't any traffic or crowds.
Part of the fun was getting here. The drive from San Francisco was so pretty. We took the 101 then drove the winding 128 through rolling vineyards and stopped in Boonville, a town just southeast of Mendocino where many of the locals still talk "Boont" - a dialect created over 100 years ago as a way to keep information from outsiders. But don't worry. Today the locals are very welcoming to visitors. The Anderson Valley Brewing Company is located there and is a place locals stop by for a beer in the beer garden after work or to pick up some locally brewed beer to take home. After Boonville we drove through a thick bunch of redwood trees which made for some wonderful photos.
Little River Inn
The drive along Highway 128 will take you
Once we arrived in Mendocino we were taken by its beauty. The town sits on the edge of the coast with waves crashing against the rocky shore and is surrounded by lush forests.
The beautiful six-generation, family-owned Little River Inn greets visitors at the south of town. The Victorian inn's history dates back to the 1850's and offers access to hiking trails, a golf course, spa and terrific restaurant. The Mendocino Coast is a haven for hikers. There are numerous paths stretching out onto the edge of the cliffs and winding trails through redwoods trees. We ate breakfast at the Little River Inn one morning and they truly have the most wonderful hotcakes. Ole's Whale Watch Bar, adjacent to the restaurant, is where James Dean hung out during the East of Eden filming.
Mendocino Coast in the Movies
The Mendocino Coast has been the setting for many films. Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Julia Roberts, and Mel Gibson are just a few of the stars who have filmed in this area. You can find a full list of movies here on MendocinoFun.com or buy the book "Mendocino and the Movies" by Bruce Levene which is full of photos, locations and details about the films.
One of the noteworthy TV shows with ties to the area is Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury as J.B. Fletcher. Her cozy Victorian home with the white picket fence can be found in the Mendocino Village and is a bed and breakfast called The Blair House Inn. The bicycle she rode around town is leaning against a tree out front of the home.
A visit to the botanical gardens offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.
Point Cabrillo lights the way
Just north of the town is the Point Cabrillo Light Station. A bed and breakfast is on the grounds and called Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo. The lighthouse has been transformed into a gift shop and museum with remnants of the shipwrecked Frolic. 2009 will mark the lighthouse's 100 year anniversary. A path just outside the lighthouse doors leads down onto the rocks where we climbed around and found a number of sea creatures in tide pools.
Stunning Botanical Gardens
The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is truly a garden by the sea and one of the highlights of the area. The 47-acres are filled with lush gardens, thick forest and stunning coastal views - expect to spend several hours here. At the entrance/exit is Cowlick's in the Garden a café and ice cream shop. The ice cream is locally made and more flavors can be found at the main Cowlick's shop in Fort Bragg.
The Skunk Train
Fort Bragg is only a few miles north of Mendocino and is home to the Skunk Train. The trains earned this nickname because of their original gas engine. It was said that "You can smell 'em before you can see 'em." The train departs downtown Fort Bragg every day at 10 am and takes passengers for a leisurely 3.5 to 4 hour tour through the redwoods and over streams where you might just catch a glimpse of a deer drinking from one - I did! The ride passes a 1,000 year old redwood which has been stuck by lightning multiple times and several secluded vacation homes. The train is the only transportation to and from town for the vacationers.
The historic Skunk Train offers a fun excursion for the whole family.
The Skunk Train has on board music entertainment and a snack bar. An open car allows passengers to stand outside as the train moves through the forest. It's easy to spend the entire ride outside watching the looming redwoods pass by overhead. At the turn around point passengers disembark and can enjoy music and eat grilled burgers, hot dogs and chili before reboarding and heading back.
After the ride we wandered Fort Bragg. The visitor center is located downtown along with shops, restaurants, wine tasting and the Mendocino Chocolate Company (trust me, it's worth the stop).
Fort Bragg Lodging
Visitors are not limited on lodging options. Inns and bed and breakfasts are plentiful as are motels. The Emerald Dolphin Inn, Surf Motel and Gardens, and Tradewinds Quality Inn and Suites are all clean, convenient and affordable lodging options. Emerald Dolphin and Surf Motel provide continental breakfasts in the lobbies, while Quality Inn and Suites offers a free sit down breakfast at Tradewinds Restaurant next door. You may search for additional lodging options in Fort Bragg or Mendocino.
When to visit?
I think any time is a good time to visit the Mendocino Coast. We really enjoyed our summer visit but I hear the spring flowers are magnificent. December thru March are the whale watching months. Every winter 20,000 gray whales pass the Mendocino Coast during their migrating pattern between Alaska and Mexico and back.
USATourist Travel Forums
The USATourist travel forums are active so stop by and say hello and let us know about your past or upcoming journey to the United States.
Special Travel Deals and Discounts
Six Flags Theme Parks - Buy Online And Save!
Mail List Contest
Have you entered the current USATourist Mail List contest? If not, be sure to stop by our contest entry page today! Don't miss your chance to win 2 adult and 2 child passes to the fabulous attractions at Niagara Falls Ontario! This contest will end on August 31, 2008. One entry per person. More prize details and contest rules can be found on the entry page.
Next month we're going to Hawaii. Happy travels!
Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair
All photos by Jeff Blair ©USATourist.com
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