People who say California has no seasons have never been to Mendocino in the Fall. Beautiful temperate days are followed by crisp nights under starry skies and the display of turning leaves rivals New England. The summer crowds have dissipated, and leisurely days lend themselves to outdoor adventures such as riding a Railbike along the tracks deep into the redwoods. Apples and grapes are being harvested and gardeners reap the rewards of a summer of labor, furnishing their kitchens with organic bounty. Mendocino’s legendary ancient trees and breathtaking coast foster a healing reconnection with the earth during these challenging times while welcoming inns host happy travelers.
What could be more centering at this time of year than gazing at a twinkling carpet of stars with a mug of hot chocolate at hand, learning all about what lies beyond our world? Iconic Little River Inn has a Stargazing package that makes for the perfect couples getaway. Family-owned for five generations, the historic inn is a true romantic escape. The Stargazing package includes two nights lodging in a Traditional Ocean View Room; a Little River Inn travel blanket that guests get to keep; the loan of their stargazing kit, which includes special binoculars, a star map, a star guide and a flashlight; hot chocolate to enjoy while stargazing; and information on the best stargazing spots in the area. Family-owned for five generations, the historic inn has something for everyone, and is just steps from easy-to-hike Van Damme State Park and sheltered Van Damme State Beach. There is an Audubon-certified golf course where guests might encounter an elusive deer, regulation tennis courts and an award-winning chef-driven restaurant with options for all that features carefully crafted and hearty California cuisine. The Inn has 65 rooms – from the affordable to the downright luxurious – all with ocean views, making it even more appropriate for a family holiday. The Stargazing Family Package for four begins at $408, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Five days-advance reservations required. No charge for weather cancelation. More luxurious rooms are available for an additional price. Little River Inn, 7901 N. Highway One, Little River, CA 95456, (707) 937-5942, www.littleriverinn.com.
Brewery Gulch Inn, which was recently named one of the Top 15 Resorts in California by Travel + Leisure magazine, is pleased to introduce their new Executive Chef, Stephen Smith. California Culinary Academy-trained, Chef Stephen has enjoyed a storied career, cooking at San Francisco’s renowned Stars restaurant, and serving as a personal chef to fashion icon Donna Karan. He was invited to guest chef a special dinner featuring North Coast fare at the James Beard Foundation in New York City, and is a long-time local favorite thanks to his previous stint at another nearby Mendocino inn, and his yearly participation in Mendocino’s Annual Crab Cake Cookoff. Now helming the kitchen at Brewery Gulch Inn, Chef Stephen states, “I was at a point in my life where I wanted to refocus my attention on the intimate elegance of food crafted for a smaller crowd.” Included with every stay at the inn is a daily, made-to-order breakfast (with a new Fall menu on offer) and a nightly Wine Hour featuring local beers and wines plus a selection of appetizers prepared by Chef Stephen and presented in room-specific Mendo Boxes that were crafted from the same eco-salvaged redwood that was used to build the inn. Breakfast choices include Amaretto Brioche French Toast topped with cinnamon-almond butter and whipped cream, Maple-Cheddar Biscuits with mushroom gravy, and the Classic – two farm-fresh eggs with toast from a local bakery, and choice of ham steak, Millionaire’s bacon, sausage link or griddled tempeh, all served with mild chili-infused hash browns and a seasonal fruit medley. Perched high on a bluff high overlooking picturesque Smuggler’s Cove and the Pacific Ocean, Brewery Gulch Inn is an architectural masterpiece that has received multiple recognitions in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and USA Today. The property encompasses three acres of mature pines and redwoods, wooded glens, wetland ponds, and gardens for strolling. Inside one will find warmly glowing arts and crafts furniture and a four-sided glass and steel fireplace in the Great Room common area, and all guest rooms boast feather beds cloaked in Sferra linens, Molton Brown products, Himalayan bath salts and thick Abyss towels. Brewery Gulch Inn is the perfect escape for the discerning and epicurean traveler. Brewery Gulch Inn, 9401 N. Highway One, Mendocino, CA 95460, (707) 937-4752, www.brewerygulchinn.com.
Dog owners know that no autumn vacation is complete without the company of their four-legged friend to hike along their side amongst the falling leaves. Noyo Harbor Inn agrees, which is why more than half of the elegant rooms at this historic stunner are dog-friendly, with more to come. The Inn provides a welcome bag to dogs on arrival, has designated pet areas for your pooch to play/hang, and provides direct access to the harbor and coastal trails for those invigorating hikes. Dogs and their owners are welcome to eat in the onsite restaurant’s charming garden area or outdoor patio, complete with cozy heaters, twinkling lights and warm blankets, where locals and visitors alike enjoy watching playful otters and seals on the Noyo River. The historic Noyo Harbor Inn is a magical place out of time that offers turn-of-the-century elegance combined with modern luxuries and amenities. The Inn features 15 spacious rooms and suites, all handsomely appointed with warm tones and many retaining the craftsman-style millwork fashioned by expert carpenters in the early 1900s. Most of the rooms boast fireplaces, 2-person soaking tubs, and private balconies. The full-service HarborView Bistro & Bar is renowned for fresh coastal cuisine and Prohibition era cocktails, offering the best of both European-inspired and California-styled dishes. Also, now through the end of the year, guests with or without dogs who book two nights midweek can get the third night for free (not valid on holidays or for Friday or Saturday stays). Noyo Harbor Inn, 500 Casa Del Noyo, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 961-8000, www.noyoharborinn.com.
The enchanting Inn at Newport Ranch at the gateway to the wild and wonderful Lost Coast has a package that will refresh the soul at this season of change. Their Restorative Wellness Retreat is an unforgettable healing experience that is an immersion in the powerful and rejuvenating beauty of nature. The day begins with a private 75-minute yoga practice surrounded by coastal wonders. Guests next escape into the redwood forest for a 2-hour guided walk using visual and breath meditation to activate the senses and re-establish the connection to nature. This “forest bathing” is calming, immunity-boosting, and stress-reducing and includes a fireside tea ceremony. Afterwards, guests return to the Inn and unwind with a 60-minute Swedish couple's massage. The Inn at Newport Ranch is a bijou resort situated on 2,100 pristine private acres and boasts 50-mile panoramic views across the Pacific. Guests have exclusive access to the vast property that encompasses virgin redwood forests, grasslands, and beach. Many guests opt to tour the acreage on horseback or book a private UTV tour – there is so much to see. Every amenity is on offer, from Ranch cuisine cooked from locally-sourced ingredients (much of which is from their own organic gardens), to sumptuously appointed guest rooms, to the onsite Fireside Spa and a hot tub perched atop an old water tower. The Inn’s interior spaces are designed to enhance the natural beauty of the location and each room is a bespoke masterpiece filled with handcrafted objects and fascinating items from the owner’s world travels. Recycled redwood trunks soar to cathedral ceilings, local wines are poured in front of a 20-foot fireplace, and stunning views are at your disposal at all times. The Restorative Wellness Retreat package is available now through the end of the year (2-night minimum lodging requirement). If canceled within 72 hours of check-in, the package is non-refundable. The Inn at Newport Ranch, 31502 N. Highway One, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 962-4818, www.theinnatnewportranch.com
All year round, the charming Glendeven Inn grows and gathers from their own farmstead to reduce their carbon footprint and to encourage a healthy and balanced ecosystem. Guests can learn about this and topics such as overwintering, cover crops, and composting during walking outdoor garden tours with the Inn’s gardener, Iris, every Sunday, or by appointment. From the flowers in the guest rooms and the honey served with tea, to the ingredients in their famous three-course breakfast – including eggs from their own chickens – the inn harvests as much as they can from their own sources. Eggs from the chicken coop are accompanied by fruit, vegetables and herbs cut from the gardens, fresh daily homemade baked goods, and fresh squeezed organic orange juice in their famous three-course breakfast that is delivered to each room every morning at 9AM. Surrounded on three sides by Van Damme State Park, Glendeven Inn & Lodge is an idyllic farmstead lodging destination. Here guests can revel in a luxurious version of the rural lifestyle while enjoying the amenities of a fine hotel. Five and a half hours of hiking trails, including walks along the sea and through some of the oldest trees on earth, are all accessible right from the Inn’s front door and from the front door of their sister property, the Inn at Cobbler’s Walk. Llamas and chickens roam at will, and the beautiful gardens beg to be strolled or contemplated from delightful socially-distanced seating areas. Guests are welcome to observe as the llamas are fed at dusk while the colorful chickens include guest favorites Blue Favaucanas and Cream Legbars. Glendeven Inn & Lodge, 8211 N. Highway One, Little River, CA 95456, (707) 937-0083, www.glendeven.com.
For the ultimate communion with the forest, the historic Skunk Train, Mendocino’s most beloved attraction, has launched a brand-new excursion built around their wildly popular Railbikes, which take riders along the Noyo River on custom-built, two-person, pedal-powered vehicles that run right on top of the train tracks. The “Railbikes on the Noyo” experience allows riders to skim along the tracks, penetrating deep into the woods through breathtaking scenery. With no need to steer, and an adjustable electric assist, riders can drink in the lush woods and wildlife, and get up close and personal with nature. “Railbikes on the Noyo” is a strenuous and lengthy trip, requiring excellent mobility, but those looking for a shorter, less formidable trip, will enjoy the “Railbikes on Pudding Creek” excursion, departing from the Fort Bragg depot. This ride is appropriate for most people and can even be modified for mobility-challenged riders. The California Western Railroad's Skunk Train is a 136-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). Passengers travel over bridges and deep into the heart of the redwoods, through terrain that has remained essentially undisturbed for centuries. For further information on the new “Railbikes on the Noyo” experience, visit https://www.skunktrain.com/railbikes-on-the-noyo/. To find out more about “Railbikes on Pudding Creek,” please visit https://www.skunktrain.com/railbikes/. Skunk Train, 100 W. Laurel Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 964-6371 (Fort Bragg Depot) and 299 E. Commercial St, Willits, CA 95490, (707) 964-6371 (Willits Depot), www.skunktrain.com.