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Posted March 2006

Fort Bragg, California

FORT BRAGG—With dozens of quiet, hidden beaches and tucked-away bed and breakfasts dotting the jagged coast, along with frequent spaghetti and crab dinners, Fort Bragg, California is a restful North Coast retreat where the desire to do absolutely nothing—holing up in pajamas by the fireplace with a good book, or just stopping by to share a crab or two--is a perfectly reasonable excuse for a visit.

Each January, much of the town (and surrounding Mendocino) shows up to chow down on hundreds of local crustaceans, sitting elbow to elbow with friends and neighbors. And though the weather is often rainy and grey during the winter months, no one seems to mind much--its part of the ambiance of this tiny coastal town where the warmth and welcome of the locals is about as cozy as a roaring fire.

Should you decide, however, to be a bit more adventurous, there are plenty of interesting things to do year-round in this town of just under 7,000 residents. Just don't be too surprised if, in your jaunt down Main Street, or to the Botanical Gardens, someone invites you to tonight's Cioppino feed, or offers to sell you a raffle ticket for the local school. You're among friends, in Fort Bragg, after all.

Some of our favorite Fort Bragg Excursions:   


Mendo Bistro: Though this small town hardly seems the place you'd find one of the best restaurants on the coast…it is. Chef Nicolas Petti keeps a strong focus on local products and seafood, making it a casually-upscale local favorite. Don't miss his award-winning crab cakes. Mendo Bistro, 301 North Main St., Fort Bragg, California, 707.964.4974,

Harvest Market: Brimming with local seafood, produce, gourmet packaged foods, cheeses and, of course, the staples, this Fort Bragg grocery store is always packed with locals and in-the-know visitors planning a beach-side picnic. (Winner of the 2006 Mendocino Crab and Wine Festival Crab Cake Competition). Harvest Market, 171 Boatyard Drive, Fort Bragg, California, 707.964.7000,

photo ~ Living Light International

Cow Licks: House-made ice cream in exotic flavors like grapefruit and candy cap mushroom (actually, quite tasty)—as well as chocolate, vanilla, root beer and more.

Cowlicks: 250 B North Main Street,707-962-9271,

Living Light Culinary School: The premiere, uh, cooking school for raw foods. The school is a training ground and retreat for folks interested in a philosophy of eating that promotes live, uncooked foods as a healthful lifestyle. Bay area chef Roxanne Klein trained here, along with many other chefs leading this unique type of food preparation. A “to-go” deli and raw foods shop is located downstairs. 301-B North Main Street, Fort Bragg, California, 800-816-2319,


Glass Beach : Before there were recycling cans and city dumps there was…the beach. Beginning in the 19th century, folks pretty much dumped whatever they no longer needed on this Fort Bragg beach—including large amounts of glass. Nature has reclaimed the beach, turning the once-sharp shards of glass into smoothly polished pebbles in dozens of colors. Though you'll still find evidence of other trash, like spark plugs and other detritus, the glass is what draws the crowds. Glass Beach, Elm St., just off Highway One,

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: See the amazing variety of coastal plants that thrive in these stunning gardens. Classes on everything from planting to mushroom hunting are offered throughout the year. Mendo Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 North Highway One, Fort Bragg, California,

Skunk Train: Take a ride on this historic 118-year-old logging train. Excursions depart from Fort Bragg and wind through towering forests and beaches of Mendocino's North Coast. The trains include open-air and closed passenger cars. Skunk Train, Foot of Laurel Street, Fort Bragg, 800-866-1690,


Tangents: An eclectic collection of gifts, clothing and books. Tangents, 368 North Main Street Fort Bragg, CA 95437 Phone: (707) 964-3884


Mendocino Crab and Wine Festival, each January. Read Details Here>>

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