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Fall in Love All Over Again in Mendocino County

by Kelly Magyarics

Nov 16, 2019

Brendan McGuigan

Destinations / North America

Mendocino County in Northern California is known for its craggy coastline, towering Redwoods, world-class wineries and creative microbreweries. Locals find autumn the best time of the year here, when the summertime crowds have given way to a more relaxed vibe, holding hands while leaf peeping passes for the perfect afternoon activity and crisp nights are made for snuggling. In other words, it’s the perfect setting and season for a couple’s getaway.


Little River Inn, Stargazing. Photo: Brendan McGuigan


Check in to the Brewery Gulch Inn, a luxe yet rustic property set up on a bluff overlooking the jagged coast of Smuggler’s Cove. Its eco-salvaged redwood construction, four-sided glass and steel fireplace and Arts and Crafts style give it a feel that’s at once warm, natural and contemporary, while large windows offer incredible views of the pines and the crashing waves. Rooms are fitted with feather beds topped with Sferra linens and bathrooms are stocked with Molton Brown amenities, Himalayan bath salts and Abyss towels. A full-time chef will cook to order your included breakfast, while the nightly dinner buffet displays dishes with locally sourced and organic ingredients. The North Coast Adventure Package can be added to any stay and includes a guided horseback ride for two through the Redwood forest or on the beach, a guided kayak tour through the sea caves and a backpack picnic for two.


Brewery Gulch Inn, North Coast Adventure Package, Horseback Riding. Photo: Brendan McGuigan


For five generations, family members have welcomed guests to the Little River Inn. Located on the coast a few minutes from the Victorian village of Mendocino, the inn has an Audubon-certified golf course, tennis courts, an award-winning restaurant with seasonal specialties like the locally famous oyster, bolete and golden chanterelle mushrooms and a bar, salon and spa.  All 65 rooms have ocean views; many also have fireplaces, steam showers, Jacuzzi tubs or individual hot tubs. Swooning couples can take a short break from staring into each eyes and look skyward at the starry nights with the Stargazing Family Fun Package (it’s suited for two people, as well). It includes two-night lodging in a traditional ocean-view room, a Little River Inn travel blanket, use of a stargazing kit, including special binoculars, a star map, a star guide and flashlight, hot chocolate and information on the constellations and planets you’ll be able to spot.


Little River Inn Sunset from an Ocean View Jacuzzi Deluxe Room Photo: Brendan McGuigan


Head to the tasting room of Maple Creek Winery in the Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley, the passion project of artist Tom Rodrigues. Its 165 acres includes not only vineyards growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Zinfandel, but seven springs, natural gardens, orchards and Maple Creek; grab a bottle and a few glasses and set out for a jaunt. The team focuses on premium and sustainable wines from Bordeaux blends to late-harvest dessert styles, all handcrafted in small lots (just 200 cases of each). Don’t miss the cherry- and plum-tinged 2017 Lost Creek Pinot Noir and the 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, which bursts with juicy cranberry, strawberry and cherry and a touch of spice.


Brewery Gulch Inn, North Coast Adventure Package, Kayak Mendocino. Photo: Brendan McGuigan


Skip the traditional bicycle in favor of a tandem ride on a Railbike. Departing from Fort Bragg at the site of the Skunk Train heritage railway, the ride on the pedal-powered vehicle takes around 1.5 hours, including a 30-minute stopover at Glen Blair Junction during which you can relax or explore the trail. The ride also takes you along Pudding Creek Estuary where you may spot osprey and blue herons. Suited for all skill levels, the Railbike also has an optional motorized assist.


Mendocino Redwood Corridor. Photo: Brendan McGuigan


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