Start planning your summer escapesPatti Pietschmann
We're spreading the news: luxury lodges, working ranches and cozy cabins kissed by ancient redwoods welcome lovers and families to Mendocino County --a playground spread on 90 miles of classic California shoreline with 24 state and national parks.
Lots of lodging choices such as Harbor House Inn, a nine-room hotel with a head-turning chef (Matt Kammerer/Saison, San Francisco) manning a 30-seat restaurant and a line-up of activities keen on keeping kids off the tablet and into the tribe. Built in 1916 as a luxury escape shrouded by ancient redwood forests, the inn debuts in May 2018 with staggering Pacific views, guestrooms set in a modern palette and bespoke excursions including group fungi foraging, sea kayaking, horseback riding and morning yoga. www.theharborhouseinn.com.
Fort Bragg's newest gem - Noyo Harbor Inn - is ready for its close-up with 15 guestrooms and the added plus of an ideal base for local exploring. Extended families will feel at home here with rich cherry wood interiors, original oil paintings and commanding views of the working harbor. The lively restaurant focuses on fish-to-fork and a variety of seasonal activities - from whale watching to sea kayaking, foraging, hiking and rebooting among the redwoods - round out a visit. In nearby Fort Bragg, scouting Glass Beach, horseback riding at Richochet Ranch or an optional tastingat North Coast Brewing Company is on tap for the adults on board. www.noyoharborinn.com.
Vintage California is reflected at Big Bend Lodge and cabins in northern Mendocino County. The remote resort is the ideal Rx for families seeking a reboot. The private drive delivers nine 1940s cottage-style lodgings with colorful kitschy interiors, decks, barbeques and fully equipped kitchens. Set on the south fork of the Eel River, this is the spot to relive those retro family forays or create new ones. On site is the requisite deep swimming hole, old oak tree swing and miles of meandering river for all-day floats; intentionally absent are televisions, Wi-Fi and cell service making a stay here truly unplugged. www.bigbendlodge.com.
Families with fat wallets can rent the entire Inn at Newport, a new 2,000-acre private preserve and cattle ranch fusing luxury lodging with off-the-charts pampering. Set along the Pacific just north of Fort Bragg, the inn offers seven unique guestrooms, an onsite chef and dining room seating 28, daily ATV tours, horseback riding and daily alfresco wine and canapes as the sun sets. An architectural passion project, the main guesthouse features heavy use of custom redwood paneling up to five feet wide with flooring set in 30-inch old growth redwood planks. Design standouts include a 20-foot wide walk-in stone fireplace, a building supported by 24 individual Redwood Trees from base to cathedral-like ceiling and hot tub perched atop of the water tower with commanding views of sea. For children under 14, full two-day buy-out required. www.theinnatnewportranch.com.
At the other end of the dollar drop is Howard Creek Ranch, an 1867 Registered HistoricSite and heavenly hideaway set on 60 oceanfront acres just north of Westport. An original land grant for sheep and cattle farming, today, horses, sheep, llama and pygmy goats graze the pastures. The ultimate family fun camp, the ranch offers award-winning gardens, fireplaces and wood stoves, a 75-foot swinging foot bridge, hot tubs, hiking, sauna, massage, horseback riding and the warm embrace of 1,000-year old redwood trees. On site are nine guest accommodations set in a meandering 1871 farmhouse as well as a smattering of private cottages overlooking the sea with large comfortable beds, antiques and a sumptuous daily cowboy breakfast.www.howardcreekranch.com.
Mendocino Grove is the stop for modern camping with an edge. Tucked on 37 redwood-rich acres just a quarter mile from the village of Mendocino, this unplug-meets-unreal outpost boasts 60 safari-style tents, fully outfitted comfy queen beds, down comforters, cotton linens and sling back chairs. For larger groups, the Family Tents offer a queen plus twins or bunk beds (sleeps six). Each tent is housed on a wooden platform with a redwood deck, leather butterfly-chairs and enough space to call it your own. Hot showers, gas barbeques, picnic tables, fire rings and activities such as bocce ball, horse shoes, hiking and hammock time are also on tap. www.mendocinogrove.com.
For more information, visit www.VisitMendocino.com.