With 90 miles of coastline and the rugged mountains of the Mendocino Range, the county is just the place to watch the winter storms roll in. Whether you're cozy indoors with a wood fire burning or experiencing the elements first-hand, there's nothing quite like the thrill of roaring winds and pounding rain.
Next time you're in the county during a storm, check out some of our favorite spots for watching the weather! Or tell us about your storm watching adventures!
Pacific Star Winery
Perched on the cliffs 12 miles north of Fort Bragg, Pacific Star Winery is just the place to watch the waves and sample some great wine. The winery building, built from redwood and stone, straddles the San Andreas Fault and is just a hop, skip and jump to the imposing cliffs that line the western side of the property. Wrap up warmly, bring a picnic and pick up a bottle of wine, then settle on “Dad's Bench”, an oversize timber and stone viewing spot, to watch the storms roll in.
The Inn at Newport Ranch
Just a short way down the coast from Pacific Star is the recently opened Inn at Newport Ranch on 2,500 acres of ranch and forest land. On stormy days, settle in next to the giant boulder-clad fireplace and sip on local wines while watching the waves. The intrepid can brave the storms in person from the 360-degree view rooftop hot tub!
Little River Inn
When the big storms roll off the Pacific Ocean, there's no place better to hunker down than at the iconic Little River Inn where most of the rooms sport an ocean view. With rain beating against the windows, get a cozy fire started and settle in to watch the weather. Even better, there's no need to leave the inn with its on-site fine dining and ocean views from Ole's Whale Watch bar, where locals gather to swap yarns.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Don your sou'wester and rain boots for a hike though the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens located on the south end of Fort Bragg. Here, 47 acres of garden environments are a pleasure for the senses… even during the winter! Warm up with a hot drink at Rhody's Garden Café before heading west along the garden trails to the Cliff House, a unique viewing cottage perched on the cliffside with open ocean views. Rain or shine the gardens are always a delight!
Russian Gulch Waterfall
Beautiful at any time of year, the waterfall in Russian Gulch State Park goes into full-on mode when the winter storms hit. Start at the headlands to view the ocean crashing into the Devil's Punchbowl on the cliffs. Then head inland on the Fern Canyon trail to the waterfall where you can gaze, mesmerized, by the water constantly flowing over the moss covered rocks.
Rain and fog are essential to the magnificent redwood groves that dot the Mendocino County landscape. Head to Hendy Woods to see the Navarro River rushing under the bridge on its journey to the ocean. Or drive the Comptche-Ukiah Road to Montgomery Woods where the creek rises every winter and transforms the summer quietude into a running stream of sound.
The Elk Cove Inn
Tucked away in the tiny village of Elk, sits the warm and cozy Elk Cove Inn, perched above… well, Elk Cove. Here, you can view the incoming storms from your room or brave the storm and head to the beach for a real back-to-nature experience. Start the day off with one of the Inn's famous home-cooked breakfasts, luxuriate in the on-site spa, and round out the evening by dining on an authentic French country meal, Chez Marie.
Point Arena Lighthouse
With a 360-degree view of the ocean, coastal meadows, and mountains to the east, the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse is a truly exhilarating place to ride out a winter storm! Standing 115 feet tall, this iconic beacon has been shining through rain, wind and fog since 1908. Intrepid isitors with an eye for adventure can visit in the rain, climb the 145 steps to the top, and revel in nature's fury!