Fort Bragg is one of the largest of small towns in Mendocino County, California. It’s a popular tourist destination for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, though the fact that it’s also a California Historical Landmark is an added plus. The city was founded prior to the American Civil War as a military garrison. Though some may say that industry came first into the area, the town has since reconnected to its roots in nature. Now it stands as a lovely coastal town beloved for its wide, ocean side views, forest trails and budding downtown area.
To embrace the natural beauty of the Fort Bragg area, the MacKerricher State Park 3 is where you’ll find undeveloped headlands, tide pools and sand dunes. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is 47-acres of garden along the coast. Noyo Harbor is the port for Fort Bragg, and has been the site of several films including Dying Young starring Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott, and Overboard. Glass Beach, closer to the edge of town, is where you can find remnants of decades past. This area used to be called “The Dumps,” where people used to discard glass and other forms of trash. The area was cleaned up, but people can still find smooth pieces of sea glass, worn down from several decades of pounding waves, along the beach. You can find out more about this beach treasure and process at the Sea Glass Museum. Pudding Creek Trestle is another point of interest that holds a lot of history. What used to be a redwood rail bridge along Fort Bragg’s timber transportation route is now a pedestrian and bike bridge for all to enjoy. To learn more about Mendocino County history, visit the Guest House Museum or the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society. The staff will tell you all about the history of Fort Bragg, and you’ll get to ride the Skunk Train.
Fort Bragg’s home county of Mendocino has tons to do and explore. A day trip to Mendocino, located 9.5 miles from Fort Bragg, will give you rugged coastline, art galleries and fine wine. The historic village of Mendocino is the perfect place to meander through the streets, with its perfect coastal views and blocks of shops and restaurants. Ukiah is the largest city of Mendocino County, with world-class cultural venues and outdoor recreation to enjoy. Gualala is a small town with comfortable lodging and fine dining. This community’s primary industry was also logging at one point, but now thrives on tourism and local services. The Point Cabrillo Light House between Point Arena and Cape Mendocino is great for a day trip, as it is part of the larger Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park. The next county over—Sonoma County—also has various points of interest for a day tip. Sonoma County is the unofficial wine country of California, and a traveller’s paradise for its wine tours, vineyards, sand and sea. The Fort Ross State Historic Park, one of California’s oldest State Parks, is also located in Sonoma County.
Like many oceanfront towns, Fort Bragg has its fair share of charming B&Bs and cottages. It also has a selection of hotels, motels and vacation homes available for rent. Entire cabins, cottages and houses are options to consider for those who prefer privacy or the amenities that private accommodations provide. There are also motels, inns and lodges that include conveniences that private homes may not necessarily offer. Coast Inn, for example, has a world-class day spa and organic health food café. Anchor Lodge has private decks that extend out over the river. Emerald Dolphin Inn has a Mini Golf Course where guests can enjoy a round of putts.
The Mendocino Transit Authority, or MTA, is the public transportation provider to Fort Bragg and its surrounding areas. Fares vary by route, but start at around $0.75 to $1.50. There are two routes that service Fort Bragg—regional route 65 and coastal route 60. Fort Bragg also has excursion trains from the city all the way to Northspur on selected weekends in the summer to early autumn. If you want to take the “Skunk Train” steam passenger rail, these yellow rail cars offer scenic tours through the redwoods. If you’re traveling by car, California’s Coast Highway, aka State Route 1, passes through the city as Main Street.
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