MENDOCINO COUNTY, CA -- (September 26, 2019) – Trees aflame with autumn leaves, the air redolent of ripe apples and vineyards harvesting their precious bounty – Fall is the locals’ favorite time in Mendocino County. And no wonder, as the crowds have thinned and the crisp nights feature carpets of stars overhead, while sunny days entice everyone into the outdoor adventures the area is so famous for. Said to be some of the best leaf peeping outside of New England, splashy maples contrast with rolling golden hills of grapes at busy wineries while a heritage train snakes through virgin forest with colors bursting amidst the centuries-old redwoods. Hospitable inns welcome visitors with attractive packages at this relaxed yet invigorating time of year.
Autumn at Brewery Gulch Inn is all about all about rustic indulgence at its most personal, with cozy fires indoors to unwind after a day of adventure outdoors. Their North Coast Adventure Package allows guests to experience the best of Mendocino’s active lifestyle in incomparable luxury. Crafted from eco-salvaged redwood on a bluff high over stunning Smuggler’s Cove, Brewery Gulch Inn is an architectural masterpiece. Their property encompasses three acres of mature pines and redwoods, wooded glens, wetland ponds, and gardens for strolling. Inside there is warmly glowing arts and crafts furniture and a four-sided glass and steel fireplace. In the rooms there are feather beds cloaked in Sferra linens, Molton Brown products, Himalayan bath salts and thick Abyss towels. Their full-time executive chef prepares complimentary cooked-to-order breakfasts and a coveted nightly dinner buffet highlighting locally-sourced, organic ingredients. Take a 10% discount on a three-night stay and add the North Coast Adventure Package for $250.00. This package includes a guided horseback ride for two through the redwoods or along the beach, a guided kayak tour through the sea caves along the Mendocino coast, and a backpack picnic for two to take on one of your excursions. Just mention North Coast Adventure at the time of booking. Brewery Gulch Inn , 9401 N. Highway One, Mendocino, CA 95460, (707) 937-4752, www.brewerygulchinn.com.
Starry nights await. The gracious Little River Inn offers a Stargazing Family Fun Package, complete with a blanket and hot cocoa, the better to enjoy the nightly display that is spectacular so far from the lights of the city. Family owned and operated for five generations, the inn is a turn-of-the-century stunner, surrounded by manicured gardens filled with bright pink amaryllis and steps from eminently hikeable Van Damme State Park. Their award-winning restaurant cooks up seasonal delicacies such as the mushrooms Mendocino is famous for, which may include Oyster mushrooms and Boletes that fruit in fall, and perhaps even early Golden Chanterelles that are just beginning to come into season. The Inn is especially appropriate for a family holiday, with 65 rooms – from the affordable to the downright luxurious – all with ocean views. Everything needed for a fabulous vacation is right onsite. The full-service resort boasts a golf course, regulation tennis courts and a salon and spa. The Stargazing Family Fun Package includes two nights lodging in a Traditional Ocean View Room with two queen beds; Little River Inn travel blanket; the loan of their stargazing kit including special binoculars, star map, star guide and flashlight; hot chocolate to enjoy while stargazing one night; and information on stargazing for the area. The Stargazing Family Package for four starts at $408 for a two night stay, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Little River Inn, 7901 N. Highway One, Little River, CA 95456, (707) 937-5942, www.littleriverinn.com.
Undulating terraces of vines accented with gently turning leaves and heavy with grapes – in the picturesque Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley, visitors will find the friendly tasting room of family-owned Maple Creek Winery, the passion project of artist extraordinaire Tom Rodrigues. Situated up a half-mile paved road, Maple Creek Winery spans 165 acres that includes seven springs, natural gardens and ripening orchards, and of course, the meandering Maple Creek. This bucolic setting is the inspiration for their selection of premium, sustainable, and award-winning wines under the Artevino label, including Estate Chardonnay, Estate Pinot Noir, Estate Merlot, Largo Ridge Zinfandel, Flora and Symphony, as well as Bordeaux Blends and late harvest varietals. All of their wines are made in small lots, handcrafted with passion and approachable enough to please every palate. Their inviting tasting room is open year-round, and their motto is “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.” A selection of the award-winning Pinots that are perfect for fall and can be tasted right now include the 2017 Lost Creek Pinot Noir, which has aromas of rose petals and lightly toasted oak; the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir, with deep dark flavors of cherries and ripe plums; and the 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, with luscious flavors of dried cherry and cranberry and hints of strawberry and white pepper. They produce fewer than 200 cases of each of these wines each year, so the time to taste them is now. Maple Creek Winery – Artevino, 20799 CA-128, Yorkville, CA 95494, (707) 895-3001, www.maplecreekwine.com.
For something completely different, the turning leaves can be watched from the rails while pedaling a people-powered Railbike. Railbikes are an exciting new offering from the Skunk Train, a heritage railway that is one of California’s most beloved attractions. Once used to move logs from the coast, today the railroad’s steam and diesel-powered trains chug through dense woods and zigzag along the lively Noyo River, providing unparalleled access to the Pacific Coast Temperate Rainforest. Young and old delight as the trains travel through a 1,122-foot tunnel and cross over 30 trestles, all while sending clouds of steam skyward. Pedaling a Railbike along the tracks reveals a new side of Mendocino’s world-famous Redwood Route. The round trip ride is roughly one-hour, and because there is an electric motor for a break from pedaling, it’s an ideal excursion for anyone, especially couples and families. Grown-ups say that riding Railbikes in the rain and splashing along through the puddles makes them feel like a kid again. A one-hour Railbike ride costs $79 per person (two people per bike, ages 6 and up).
And speaking of kids, all aboard for the Skunk Train’s Pumpkin Express! Every Sunday in October, they offer a round trip excursion to an autumnal wonderland. Everyone will enjoy seasonal treats on board, and on arrival at the magical pumpkin patch wonderland, passengers have the opportunity to walk the pumpkin patch, explore the nearby redwoods, and choose their very own pumpkin to bring back on the train. Ticket pricing: Adult: $47.95 (Ages 13 and up); Child: $36.95 (Ages 2-12); Infant: $10.95 (Under the age of 2); Dog: $10.95. Skunk Train, 100 W Laurel St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 964-6371, www.skunktrain.com.
This fall what could be better than a drive to the Mendocino Coast? The journey takes visitors past vineyards turning rich orange, intensified with splashes of color from oaks and maples. Winetasting on the way is replaced by breathtaking views around every corner along the sparkling Pacific Coast, where the accommodations are stellar and opportunities for fun are practically endless.
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Heather Noll | Chalkboard Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org | 415.290.2891