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.
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.