… from their winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas. Between October and February, these gentle giants of the deep cruise the coast on their southbound journey to bask in the temperate seas while tending their newly born calves. Then, with pups in tow, the whales turn north once more to the plentiful food that sustains them in the Bering Sea.
And every year, the coastal towns of Mendocino County celebrate the whales on their annual voyage with three festivals in March! This year, the fun kicks off on March 3 with a Chowder Festival at Crown Hall in Mendocino where restaurants vie for your vote. Wash down the grub with some local suds and then tour the village's wine tasting venues in the afternoon. It's not all fun and games though… special whale-themed events at the Ford House and whale watching from the Point Cabrillo Light are a fine way to finish the weekend.
Plan your weekend to stay at one of the inns and B&Bs that grace the village. The MacCallum House is the grand old lady of lodging with a variety of options for a cozy night. Bonus is the cocktail bar! Or bed down at one of three Blue Door Group properties, a sexy triad of lodgings including the newly-renovated Blue Door Inn in the village of Mendocino. Set in crisp, cool tones, this is the stop for a romantic romp set against an ocean backdrop. Wherever you hang your hat, your stay will be memorable!
Little River gets its chance to shine on the weekend of March 9–11 with lodging specials at properties throughout the seaside town, family fun activities, and nature adventures all rolled into one weekend! Let the celebration begin on Friday evening at Van Damme State Park with a campfire program and talk about whales. Take time to explore the park's Fern Canyon or hike to the Pygmy Forest. Over the weekend, paddle out into the bay to explore the sea caves with Kayak Mendocino or, if you're water wary, take a tour of the stunning Spring Ranch Barn, saved from the wrecking ball and now a coastal treasure. If you don't know about geocaching, now's the time to learn about this high-tech treasure hunting game that takes place all around Little River with prizes for finding the hidden stash! On Sunday, sit back in the Abalone Room and listen to singer-songwriter Gwyneth Moreland as she celebrates her new album! And, of course, you can opt to just watch for whales from the many vantage points in the area.
Take advantage of a Whale of a Sale by staying two nights and the third night's free! Choose from lodging all over town: Dennen's Victorian Farmhouse, where breakfast in bed in your cozy room is just the thing to do, the Little River Inn where you can spy whales from Ole's Whale Watch Bar, say hi to the llamas at the Glendeven Inn, have a luxury stay at the Heritage House Resort, choose a quirky cabin at the Andiron Seaside Inn & Cabins, the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek where brunch is an art form, and bring Fido to the pet-friendly Cottages at Little River Cove.
The Whale Fest finale is in Fort Bragg where events happen from March 16–18. Learn about the whales of the Pacific at a lecture on Friday evening at Fort Bragg's Town Hall.Get the family together for docent-led whale walks at MacKerricher State Park, which is a natural wonderland where seals lounge on the rocks, tide pools pop into view when the ocean recedes, and there are plenty of birds to see at Lake Cleone. If you've never ridden on the beach, now's the time to book a ride with Ricochet Ridge Ranch for that once-in-a-lifetime experience!
In downtown Fort Bragg, test out your chowder chops at the Masonic Hall where you can sample your way through beers from the coast's one and only North Coast Brewing Company. Wineries from around the county will be pouring their wares as well!
To learn about more Whale Festival events, please click here.