A Trip to the Mendocino Coast

Point Arena Lighthouse

The iconic Point Arena Lighthouse is a popular destination for visitors to the Mendocino Coast. Photo: Point Arena Lighthouse

MENDOCINO, California – Do you already have your summer vacation plans nailed down? If not, the Mendocino Coast is a trip you should add to your list. For the more spontaneous, tuck this spot away for a future spur-of the-moment daycation. Either way, you’ll be delighted when you go as there is much to see and do.

Photo: Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock

At 115 feet, the Point Arena Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. Visitors can reach the top by climbing a spiral staircase comprised of 145 steps. The 360-degree view that you’re rewarded with when you get there will make your ascent worthwhile. A tour guide in the lighthouse’s tower will discuss the area’s rich ocean topography and sea life. While you’re gazing at the breathtaking view, keep your eyes peeled for whale spouts, tails, and breaches. Humpback whales can be seen year-round, and this is the pathway for migrating gray whales from late November through May.

The lighthouse is open for both day and night tours as well as lodging, so if you’ve ever dreamed of life as a lighthouse keeper, now is your chance to experience that firsthand. Best of all, ocean views are guaranteed!

Glass Beach

Glass Beach in MacKerricher State Park on the Mendocino Coast. Photo: IrinaK / Shutterstock

No trip to the Mendocino Coast would be complete without a visit to one-of-a-kind Glass Beach. Despite the name, Glass Beach is actually composed of three beaches in MacKerricher State Park in Fort Bragg. According to lore, each time a sailor is lost at sea, the mermaids cry and their tears wash up on shore in the form of colorful sea glass. The sea glass at Glass Beach, however, has a far less romantic past.

As a visit to the Sea Glass Museum will explain, these beaches were all once former city dumps. As was common years ago in sea coast towns, garbage was dumped into the ocean. After being pelted and churned by pounding waves and sand, the glass from perfume and prescription bottles and taillights has been refined into polished pieces of brilliant sea glass, which now cover the shoreline. The assortment of these treasures makes for a memorable walk along the beach. It should be noted that while the glass is beautiful to look at and more than a little tempting to take, state beach rules prohibit collecting.

Mendocino Headlands

Ocean view from the Mendocino Headlands. Photo: Mel Gugala / Shutterstock

Another “must do” is Mendocino Headlands State Park. It’s a great way to finish your visit, as the secluded beaches and walking trails on the cliffs are considered prime spots for watching the sunset. But you don’t need to arrive just before nightfall – this is also a great place for wildflower spotting, hiking, surfing, and fishing.

If you go: The Point Arena Lighthouse is located at 45500 Lighthouse Road, Point Arena. Tours are $7.50 per adult, $1 for children ages 5-11. Children under 5 are free. For more information, call 877-725-4448 or visit PointArenaLighthouse.com. More information about Glass Beach is available at FortBragg.com. Learn more about Mendocino Headlands State Park at www.Parks.CA.gov.


Your Town Daycations is a series featured in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. This article was originally published in the June 2018 editions.

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