Bragging about Fort Bragg
Things to do in Fort Bragg, California
Having visited many beaches--from Nova Scotia to Florida on the Atlantic and from Oregon to Southern California on the Pacific, not to mention Hawaii--we have found that each one tends to have its own unique charm and appeal.
One of our favorite northern California beach areas is Fort Bragg. The town is large enough to have the stores, restaurants, and amenities we want, yet the beaches are not crowded. This is due to the fact that Fort Bragg is located about 3 ½ hours from either San Francisco or Sacramento and a bit off the beaten path.
Another great perk is that the Fort Bragg area is sunnier than many California and Oregon beaches. Once you travel north of Los Angeles, a beach with a clear sky and sunshine can be a rare treat. Kathy and I find that we Arizona gals can’t take too many overcast days. We like to play in the sun! There’s nothing quite like wiggling our toes into the satiny grit of sand, while a soft breeze blows across our sun-warmed skin, and gazing into the crests of waves swelling and crashing into a milky foam. Though gloomy beaches can have their own mood and sense of melancholy, they don’t renew us in the same way.
When visiting Fort Bragg these are the attractions you should not miss:
Noyo Headlands Coastal Trail
This flat, paved path jetting out above the coast offers phenomenal views and is accessible for almost anyone. Wildflowers grace your walk as you gaze down at the rocky cliffs and the beautiful blue ocean, watching the waves spewing spray into the air. This wide paved trail is excellent for walking or riding your bike and it's doggie friendly.
THE BEACH for treasure hunters. Search for glass pieces of amber, green, white or blue. They are worn by the waves so they have smooth edges. (Where did the glass come from?? Dump sites existed along this part of the California Coast between 1906 and 1967. They were closed and cleaned up but not before glass and pottery washed into the ocean).
Nearly 30 years ago I took my kids there. Recently Kathy and I took our grandson. It was amazing to find enough glass still there for him! He was able to run around the same sands collecting his treasures like his dad did as a boy all those years ago.
Another great find at Glass Beach is the tide pools lurking among the coastal rocks.
How often can you stroll through dense forest and be at the beach splashing in the waves on the same day? Fort Bragg is ideally located near redwood forest and state parks. If you want to tap into your inner Zen, we suggest you meander (not power hike) through the tranquil forest, communing with the redwoods, ferns, and wildflowers.
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse
Just six miles south of Fort Bragg, this light station began operating in 1909. Its beam radiates 14 miles out into the ocean on a clear night. Cabrillo Lighthouse was purchased by California State parks in 2002. The park is comprised of nearly 300 acres with cliffs overlooking the ocean and 12 structures including the Lighthouse, a small maritime museum, three lightkeeper’s homes, and two cottages.
The Head Lightkeeper’s House, the Assistant Lightkeeper’s House and East and West Cottages can be rented as vacation homes.
The before and after hours seclusion of this location makes for a unique, rejuvenating/ soul-searching experience. You and some of your close friends should rent one of the homes together for the best deal!
Of course you don't have to spend the night to take in the serenity and beauty here. Like all these attractions, visiting the lighthouse and cliffs is free. That's the beauty of Fort Bragg. You and your family can enjoy days of fun at no additional cost.
Imagine being able to stroll out to the cliffs with your morning coffee or watch a brilliant sunset, or scan the horizon for gray, orca, or humpback whales, or watch for harbor seals resting on the rocks. More than 50 species of birds including pelicans, osprey, white-tailed kites, and black oystercatchers visit the area. Bring your binoculars!