Mendocino County is all about the wilderness, waves and wine! From natural hot springs to heady redwood hikes, this Northern California coastal region raises the bar for urbanites seeking a dose of nature and delicious homegrown eats. Here are 10 cool things to do in Mendocino this spring and summer:
GET YOUR GOAT ON
From milking to cheese making and a fanciful best dressed parade, local goats of all breeds will make their debut at the First Annual Goat Festival at Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. Combine a visit to nearby Pennyroyal Farm (by appointment) – a 66-acre farmstead goat and sheep dairy known for its local spin on Boontling cheeses such as Bollie’s Mollies, Laychee and Boont Corners.
When: April 25 & 26
HAVE BIKE, WILL RIDE
Spring means riding season and nowhere is there more gorgeous turf for bikers of all genres. Mendocino County has three top treks for motorcyclist as well as a variety of outback single-track mountain bike venues for all skill sets. The jaw-dropping 85-mile stretch of Highway 1 from Gualala to the Lost Coast is nirvana on wheels, traversing Point Arena, the new National Monument – Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands – cities of Elk, Albion, Little River, Fort Bragg, Westport and Rockport. Circle back via Highway 101 for a full immersion. Helmets Off: Unbeaten Path Hiking Tours offers new guided treks through the national monument.
SUDS & SUPER HEROES
Don a cape and sturdy stein for the 19th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival, a bahl hornin’ (Boontling for “good drinking”) event sporting a super hero theme this May 2, 2015. On tap, 80+ micro brews including an iconic Anderson Valley Brewery’s seasonal ale and plenty of barbeque to bounce the hops off.
When: May 2, 2015; $40 tickets in advance
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
It’s trash to treasure at Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach where years of pre-1967 auto taillights, apothecary bottles and broken windows have been naturally sanded and reinvented as sea glass gleaming in the sunlight. Leave it to Mother Nature and years of pounding surf to deliver a stunning beach lined with colorful sparkling glass and tide pools now accessible to day trippers. Stepping up with 4.5 miles of new turf on 82 acres of the old Georgia-Pacific Mill site, the Noyo Headlands Park offers four areas inaccessible for over 100 years. Get up close and personal with a custom kayak tour via Liquid Fusion Kayaks out of Noyo Harbor.
All aboard for a train adventure deep into Noyo River Canyon, paired with kayaks and wood-fired showers. April 3 marks open season for the Skunk Train’s annual Camping in the Noyo excursions, located 17 miles east of Fort Bragg in a remote logging camp. Originating in 1907, this eight-site slice of paradise is the ultimate unplug. Reserve the River View Cabin ($200/nt.; sleeps four) if tenting it is too rustic. Starting at $100/nt., two night minimum.
PASS THE PINOT
Mendocino County’s most coveted crush pad — Anderson Valley — swirls into action with the only festival to celebrate a single varietal from a single appellation. Just sixteen miles long and five miles across linked by the Navarro River to the Pacific, this cool climate region puts out a show-stopping line-up of wines under labels such as Goldeneye, Drew Family Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Knez Winery, Baxter Winery and Roederer Estate. Grab a glass at the 18th Annual Pinot Noir Festival and tag into technical tastings, a social barbeque in the vineyards and grand tasting in addition to winemaker dinners and open houses.
When: May 15-17, 2015; Grand Tasting $105
The 10th Anniversary Mendocino Film Festival rolls out the red carpet with a company of venues ranging from the home of Seabiscuit, Ridgewood Ranch – which includes a tour of the property and panel – to the bucolic town of Philo, nestled in the heart of Anderson Valley, and coastside casting calls in Mendocino, Fort Bragg and Point Arena. Kick off the whole affair with a weekend at the Cinema in the Vineyards – May 22-24 – and “Films that Evoke the Senses.”
When: May 28-31
If naked in nature describes your ultimate recharge, high tail it to Orr Hot Springs Resort north of Ukiah. Neighboring Montgomery Wood State Natural Reserve – and stellar hiking though five massive virgin redwood groves – Orr offers a seasonal workshop May 30-31, 2015 in Holotropic Breathwork designed to deepen spiritual growth through inner exploration. Visitors can also celebrate the resort’s 40th anniversary with overnight lodging in 23 rustic cabins and yurts or simply dress down for a soak in the large rock pool, private bath or communal springs. Newbies can opt for a one of two private starlight tubs set atop the bathhouse for a true serenity soak. ($30/day)
BEHIND THE REDWOOD CURTAIN
Wine sleuthing hits a high note at one of the county’s top hidden AVAs – Redwood Valley. Due east off Highway 101 a cache of small, family-run wineries step up with regionally-defined Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera and Petite Sirah, among other varietals. Names like Brown Family Wines, Silversmith Vineyards, Neese Vineyards and Frey Vineyards, pioneer in biodynamic and organic winemaking for Mendocino County and the entire U.S., provide an inside slice of the Mendocino of yesteryear. Redwood Valley also boasts Germain-Robin Alambic Distillery, focused on cognac-style brandy. With a home grown ambiance along bucolic back roads, the annual A Taste of Redwood Valley is the ticket for barrel and library tastings, live music, locally-source products and a rural good time.
When: June 19-21, 2015; $30
Call it a paddle party without the paddles. Catch a Canoe’s solar wind nine-person outrigger debuts this summer along Mendocino County’s lush Big River. The only creation of its kind sporting three modes of propulsion – solar, electric and human – delivers an easy tour four miles upriver surrounded by resident harbor seals, river otters, wild flowers and spring birds.
When: Opening Day is June 22, 2015; $65 includes guide & gratuity.
The Tent Concert Hall rises on the Mendocino Headlands for the annual 29th Mendocino Music fest. Twenty-seven concerts, from blues to bluegrass, symphonies to opera, and jazz to Celtic and African, packed into just over two weeks in July. Come for the music and enjoy the beauty of the Coast, the art-filled Village, and outstanding eats.
When: July 11 – 25, 2015 ; Tickets $12 – $49
Photos by Lanee Lee from her trip there in 2012.