Now is the best time of the year to make like the Night’s Watch, and head north.
Warm days, crisp nights. This is late summer on your performance-enhancing drug of choice.
Saddle the horse, ready the surf-kayak, and keep an eye out for the ghosts: We’re heading to Fort Bragg.
To be clear, this is not the North Carolina military site of the same name; this Fort Bragg hasn’t seen a military presence since 1867. Instead, you’ll find a picturesque port busy with fishermen working the waters and tons of opportunities for exploring the beach, the redwoods and everything in between.
Noyo Harbour Inn (3 images)
WHERE TO STAY
The Noyo Harbor Inn, a 150-year-old hotel, is so historic that if you enter its former name into Google, the first suggestion for autocomplete is “haunted.” (Let’s just say that everything did not end well for one pair of visitors.) Happily, it’s both historic and newly renovated, having reopened just a few months ago. The room to book is without question is the king bed tub deluxe, with a fireplace and views of the working harbor below.
Land (2 images)
WHAT TO DO (LAND)
You’ve already walked myriad beaches — but have you thundered down them on the back of a horse? Ricochet Ranch Lodge will organize custom rides along the coast (or through the redwoods) to suit your interest and abilities. Alternatively, bring or rent a bike and head out across the newly, and beautifully, restored, 103-year-old Pudding Creek Trestle — then explore the rest of MacKerricher State Park, including the famous Glass Beach.
Image via Ricochet Ranch Lodge
WHAT TO DO (SEA)
Abalone diving is off limits this year, but there’s still plenty to do on the coastline. If you’ve already done your share of meandering (along lazy rivers) and rolling (on faster-moving ones), focus now on mastering the art of kayak-surfing. Or if you don’t want to get wet (or have kids in tow), book a tour of Noyo Harbor and surrounding waterways with Captain Dan, and expect to sea a mix of wildlife (otters! seals! ducks!) and actual labor, like working salmon boats.
Image via Liquid Fusion Kayaking
Eat (2 images)
WHAT TO EAT
Who needs a three-figure, seven-course tasting menu? The vibe here is less fussy than points south. Stop by A Sweet Affair for macarons and croissants to go, and David’s for a full lunch of burgers and fries. Sea Pal Cove has solid fish and chips, while D’Aurelio and Sons is the local spot for pizza and pasta, while Silvers at the Wharf is close to the hotel and right on the water, with dungeness crab and seafood galore (plus a killer baked brie with roasted garlic).
Images via A Sweet Affair