Where can you go that’s within a morning’s drive from Sacramento offering romance, tranquility, ocean vistas, world class food and wine, and luxurious lodging for your mini-moon? Mendocino, of course!
The best way to get to Mendocino is to drive the winding road of Hwy 128 through the Anderson Valley – one of California’s lesser traveled wine regions but producing some of the best vintages found anywhere in the west. Don’t miss stopping in to Lula Cellars in Philo and say hi to self described Pushy Salesman (yup, that’s what it says on his card!) Dan Reed. Not only will he pour you delicious (and award winning) Pinot Noir, Dan is extremely knowledgeable regarding the growing conditions and types of wines only procured in this small but delightful wine region.
Continue along Hwy 128 until it ends at Highway 1 and turn north and within just a few minutes the remarkable Brewery Gulch Inn awaits your arrival! Conde-Nast Traveler’s rated the Brewery Gulch Inn as the 2016 Readers’ Choice #1 Best Hotel in Northern California.
The Inn rests on a bluff overlooking Smuggler’s Cove on Mendocino Bay. The Inn is contemporary in design but built with salvaged and recycled redwood. Rooms have balconies or patios with fireplaces (necessary even in the summer when the legendary fog rolls in late afternoon).
After settling in to your room it’s time for the Inn’s “light” dinner buffet served in their gorgeous great room with huge windows overlooking the grounds of the Inn. The buffet will definitely change how you view “light”! The meals vary but all are locally sourced – scallops, steaks, salads (veggies from their heritage garden in the Anderson Valley), soups, desserts paired with local Anderson Valley beers and wines.
Take a walk around the grounds before retiring back to your room and slip into the comfort of the feather beds featuring the softest Sferra Fine Linens. In the morning breakfast is in order back in the great room – housemade pastries, organic eggs, fresh squeezed juices and more all made to order. And ask Innkeepers Guy and Sarah to not forget the Millionaire’s Bacon! Before leaving take a closer look at the art featured throughout the Inn by a myriad of local Mendocino County artists.
Leaving (sadly) Brewery Gulch Inn is made a little less sad by new adventures to come. Spend an hour or a day in the gorgeous hamlet of Mendocino where you can choose to gaze upon more local art, or upon the breathtaking Mendocino ocean views. You can hike all around the bluffs overlooking the pounding Pacific or listen to its soothing sounds from one of Mendocino’s local bars and restaurants. Depending on the time of year you visit, check the local calendar for a list of festivals and special events.
Traveling north again on Hwy 1, a stop in Fort Bragg for a trip on the historic and iconic Skunk Train is touristy, but something that needs to be done (if only so you can buy a t-shirt that has a Skunk image on it)! But it’s a lot of fun and your guide will tell you stories of how the Skunk Train travels over some of the first tracks laid down by the California Western Railroad in 1885 along with how the Skunk Train came by it’s name and more railroad and logging local history. Enjoy some more of the great Anderson Valley beers while enjoying this one-hour round trip tour.
About 20 minutes north of Ft. Bragg you will arrive at your final mini-moon destination and it’s certainly worth the wait. The newly (2015) constructed Inn at Newport Ranch resides on a 2000 acre private reserve with breathtaking ocean vistas in front of you and forests and hills behind you.
You must take a guided ATV tour of the property and venture out on a ridgeline hike on your own and take in the powerful and dramatic views. Or you can relax in your spectacular room or suite or visit the fireside spa (needed especially after the ridgeline hike) for a massage. Book a room in the Redwood House, if you can. There are 24 redwood trees supporting the building and can be viewed inside each suite. Cathedral ceilings and custom woodwork abound in each suite. All suites are extremely private with just a short walk to the bluffs edge where you can take in the incredible views not found anywhere else along the California coast.
In the morning, your included with your stay breakfast will bolster you for a day of ranch activities. In the late afternoon fireside drinks and appetizers are served in the main dining room which has large windows to take in the views or sit in front of the fireplace in the lounge or the firepit outside carefully tended by the very friendly Inn staff who will also be able to talk to you about the history of the Inn and the working cattle ranch. The food can be described as North Coast seasonally inspired ranch cuisine and much of it is made from local ingredients right off the ranch. Dinners are also served on weekends and for special events in the off season (November – May) and daily during the summer and early fall. The Inn is fast becoming one of the must visit destinations on the Northern California coast and once you have been there, the sea will draw you back again and again.
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance) Lula Cellars, Brewery Gulch Inn, Skunk Train and Inn at Newport Ranch.
Blog Post by Real Weddings Magazine’s contributor, Debra Linn.
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