Originally a lumber town, Fort Bragg, California now attracts many visitors with its sweeping ocean views, well-known attractions, and plenty of outdoor activities. Set up your home base at one of many Fort Bragg vacation rentals as you explore the area with your kids. From glass stone beaches to rustic railroads, Fort Bragg offers unforgettable points of interest. Consider these nine child-friendly activities when planning your itinerary.

1. Visit Glass Beach

Perhaps the most well-known spot to visit in Fort Bragg, Glass Beach has a less-than-glamorous backstory with a beautiful ending. The beach area once served as a dumping ground for the town, with debris from buildings and other trash being pushed there. The beach is now covered in beautiful glass stones in various colors, but that’s not all your kids can find at the beach. People often find random items amid the rocks left over from the past use as a dump site. This beach becomes a never-ending treasure hunt for your kids. As pretty as they look, the glass rocks need to stay behind, since this area is a state beach. You can compare notes on who found the best treasures and the prettiest rocks while sitting on the deck of your vacation rental.

2. Ride the Skunk Train

Another must-do activity in Fort Bragg is taking a ride on the Skunk Train. This classic train departs the downtown depot to take you on an adventure through beautiful natural areas. Redwoods surround the tracks for a large portion of the trip. The seven-mile Pudding Creek Express trip is ideal for kids, as it only lasts one hour.

3. Wander About the Beautiful Plants

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden lets you explore the beauty of Mother Nature throughout 47 acres of garden areas. This spot is the perfect place to go bird-watching with your kids, as it serves as home to over 150 bird species. Overlooking the ocean, the gardens span across canyons, forests, bluffs, and wetlands for a diverse place to explore, burn off energy, get fresh air, and spot wildlife. Kids of all ages enjoy the gardens, although the amount of time you spend here depends largely on your child’s age and attention span. Look for some of the same bird and plant species once you return to your vacation rental.

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4. See a Lighthouse

Experience coastal charm with a trip to the Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Active since 1909, this lighthouse still serves as a navigational aid. When you arrive, you notice the lighthouse, three lightkeeper homes, and a restored blacksmith and carpentry shop, which houses the Marine Science Exhibit with a 240-gallon saltwater aquarium. Visit the period museum in one of the lightkeeper’s homes to learn more about the area. Its high position over the ocean makes this park an ideal place to spot resting harbor seals, swimming sea lions, and even gray, humpback, and blue whales during certain seasons. You may even spot your vacation rental if it’s close enough to the point.

5. Go Hiking

Fort Bragg serves up plenty of natural beauty with trails and paths weaving around the various natural areas. Grab your hiking boots or walking shoes, and take your family on a fun trek. Noyo Headlands Park offer two miles of paved trails perfect for strollers and young kids who walk on their own. You get amazing views of the ocean and the Noyo Bay. Get a view from above with a walk over the Pudding Creek Trestle. This restored redwood rail bridge now serves as a pedestrian and bike bridge. Kids enjoy walking across the bridge and sneaking peaks of the beauty below the bridge.

6. Visit a Museum

Originally a home built out of old-growth redwood in 1892, this building now houses the Guest House Museum. The home features ornate woodwork throughout on the moldings, trim, spindles, and banisters. Exhibits cover the town’s history through artifacts and photos. Older kids can enjoy looking at this historic artifacts to learn more about the area.

7. Explore Tide Pools and Dunes

MacKerricher State Park is just north of Fort Bragg and offers picturesque shoreline views and varied terrain. Tide pools, dunes, bluffs, and wetlands fill the state park, giving your kids a glimpse at coastal beauty. Take a walk along the boardwalk, which is ideal for walking or pushing a stroller. You can often spot seals and various birds in this coastal area.

8. Ride Horses

Ricochet Ridge Ranch offers horseback rides along the beach in the Fort Bragg area. The facility offers rides of different lengths, ranging from one-hour hour rides to all-day private beach rides. For young kids, the one-hour trek is a safe option. They get a taste of horseback riding without being committed to a long period. Hop on horseback with kids old enough to sit safely on the horse.

9. Go on the Water

With a great coastal location, Fort Bragg makes it easy for visitors to get out onto the water. Kayaking is a popular activity in the area. Store your own kayak in your vacation rental garage until you can make it out on the water, or rent a kayak once you arrive. You can also charter fishing boats and take whale-watching cruises at certain times of the year.

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