One of the best things about California is that it is so infinitely explorable. Take a weekend trip up (or down) the coast to Fort Bragg and soak in the seaside for a few days. Our handy travel guide will help you make the most of your days and your budget will thank you later. The drive is half the fun – always include the journey as part of the experience! Located north of San Francisco, the Mendocino coast is lined with water-carved sea stacks. A total visual high everywhere you look.
Fort Bragg Beaches
If you love to scour tide pools for treasures, Glass Beach is the place for you. The most popular attraction Fort Bragg has to offer is beachcombing at Glass Beach. Among the rocks and pebbles are tiny fragments of sea glass in a myriad of colors. The tide washes in smooth glass that is fun to sift through. Although taking sea glass is generally discouraged, a few choice gems never could be missed. I found a tiny beach shop on the north side of East Laurel Street that carried tiny glass vials to hold my handful. Perfect souvenir from my trip.
For the best and easiest lodging, Beachcomber Motel can’t be beat. Beachcomber Motel sits on the cliffs in Fort Bragg and offers stunning ocean views. Ocean-facing rooms have sliding glass doors that open up onto a community patio. The patio is perfect for sunset evening because they have fire pits and warming lamps at each post. Grab a book or a glass of wine and socialize with your fellow travelers. That’s half the fun! A long beach path runs 10 miles alongside the motel (3 miles north and 3.5 miles south) which is perfect for a morning or evening run. We also recommend renting beach cruisers from the motel for $8/hour or $24/4 hours. What a great spot!
Time to be an early riser! Sunrises are stunning in Fort Bragg and early morning is the best time to walk the cliffs and take photos. Instagram-worthy Pudding Creek Bridge is directly south of Beachcomber Motel. Cross the bridge and walk about 10-15 minutes straight to Glass Beach parking, or wander there along the cliffs. I spent a good three hours in the morning just taking in the views and wandering the footpaths. What a rejuvenating way to start a day.
Piaci Pub + Pizzeria
For lunch or dinner, your best bet is Piaci Pub & Pizzeria. Piaci serves the best thin crust pizza in Fort Bragg made with artisanal local ingredients. The crust is crunchy and the sauce is wonderfully seasoned. We recommend the Farmers or Primavera pizza from the menu. Service is friendly and they offer a large selection of craft beers to wash it down with. Perfect local spot!
Need a pick-me-up? Breakfast in Fort Bragg is equally satisfying at Headlands Coffeehouse, located in the heart of downtown shopping. They feature live music seven days a week (think jazz) and monthly exhibits by local artists. Headlands has an amazing assortment of coffee blends available and you get one refill free! They offer an assortment of bagels and yummy goodies and free Wifi makes it a good afternoon pit stop, too.
The North Coast is very different from Southern California beach life. Interestingly, the town itself initially started as a military garrison in the pre-Civil War era. Over time, Fort Bragg evolved into a tourist town due to it’s picturesque coastline and moderate climate. Classified as a cool summer Mediterranean climate, temperatures range from 45 to 56 degrees year round. This makes beachcombing and hiking possible any season you go.
Pacific Coast Highway
The drive along the PCH 1 is nothing short of spectacular. Be sure to drive it early in the morning where traffic is scarce and light is good. Be careful when driving to or from Fort Bragg at night – the roads are pretty slow and twisty. Either way, Mother Nature will leave you breathless with coastal views and paths through the redwoods. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the most out of your trip. Keep it simple and enjoy the scenery!