Just about ten miles up the coast from Mendocino is the beach town of Fort Bragg. If you have time, it is worth the drive up. There some fun restaurants, stores and galleries to explore. Our top finds include:
Headlands Coffeehouse: At 120 E. Laurel St. in downtown, this is a traditional coffee house serving coffee drinks along with breakfast and salads, paninis, sandwiches and other entrees for lunch. They also offer live music seven days a week at 7pm, except on Sundays when it is at 2pm.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: I enjoyed visiting the gardens in order to see the several types of beautiful rhododendrons that were in bloom in the Spring. You can also walk along the coast. They offer a perennial garden, a rose garden and areas specializing in camellias, heather, succulents, vegetables, native plants and more. There is a small cafe and gift store as well. 18220 North Highway One.
Pacific Star Winery: Located 12 miles north of Fort Bragg, along the coast, this is a winery featuring their reds and whites. I sampled three of their wines. Though, they were not my favorites, the views of the coast are stunning. 3300 N. Highway One. There is also a tasting room in downtown Fort Bragg. A friend in the wine business in Chicago recommends their Charbono varietal.
North Coast Brewing Co.: A well-known local microbrewery since 1988, they have brewery tours, a shop on one corner and a Tap Room for tastings and food on the other corner. I tried their CME California pale ale, their Scrimshaw pilsner and their Blue Star wheat beer. The Blue Star was my favorite. They offer jazz in their Sequoia Room jazz club on weekends. 455 N. Main St.
MacKerricher State Park: Located three miles north of Fort Bragg is a stunning state park. Here you can walk out to the coast and see seals, sea lions, and local birds and vegetation. There are hiking trails, campsites, walks along the beach as well as biking and horseback riding opportunities.
Cowlick’s Hand Made Ice Cream: This is a great spot for ice cream downtown, at 250B N. Main.
Herons by the Sea: For casual dining along the docks, overlooking the water, this is a perfect spot. They offer indoor and outdoor dining and feature fish, fish tacos and more with a Mexican touch. 32150 N. Harbor Drive. There are several other casual sport spots along the docks nearby.