Archive for the ‘For Families’ Category

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Ten Great Reasons to come to Fort Bragg now!

Posted on: January 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm by Julia Conway No Comments
Paul House last day 2014

The last sunset of 2014 from photographer Paul House


1.  Whales!  The annual migration of the California gray whale begins in December and peaks in the winter months.

2.  No crowds.  On a winter day  in Fort Bragg, there’s no waiting in line; not for a coffee, not for lunch, not for a parking space.

3.  Walks.  Whether it is along the ocean, in the redwoods or just down to the beach, there’s a walk for everyone.

4.  Crab!  Boats are bringing fresh Dungeness crab into Noyo Harbor daily.  You can enjoy the delectable and seasonal treat in our local restaurants, or pick up one in the harbor or at a local grocer.

5.  Waterfalls.  A short walk through Otis Johnson Park or at Russian Gulch State Park and you can visit the magic of winter in the woods.

6.  Mushrooms.  Wild mushroom season is not limited to the fall months.  Whether you forage or just hunt with a camera, there is still plenty of natures bounty to capture.  You will see oyster, yellowfoot, black trumpet, candy caps and more, just look down along the edges of our roads and trails.  Once you have the “mushroom eye” you will never look at the woods in the same way again.

7.  Deals!  Lodging rates in Fort Bragg have never been better.  Check out our listings of cozy B&B’s or family-friendly motels and hotels for winter season specials.

8.  Quiet!  Did we say this was the quiet time of year?  Other than the booming of the surf or the staccato tempo of the rain on the roof, there’s nothing to disturb the peace.  After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there’s nothing we like more.

9.  Waves.  Did we mention the spectacular winter surf in Fort Bragg?  King tides and storm swells from the north Pacific combine to bring some of the most awe-inspiring ocean views you can imagine.  Of course, watch from a safe distance and never turn your back on the ocean.  For a sample, click on this link

10.  Sunsets!  Winter is sunset season on the Mendocino Coast, and Fort Bragg is no exception.  Night after night of ever-changing rainbows.  See if you can spot the elusive “green flash” or better yet, catch it with your camera.  Visit our Facebook page at to see the collection of sunset photos from our local photographers and fans.

Tell about your favorite things to do in Fort Bragg in the winter season!

Hometown New Year’s in Fort Bragg

Posted on: December 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm by Julia Conway
The 47-acre gardens walk ends at the ocean.

The 47-acre gardens walk ends at the ocean.


Are you tired of all the holiday hustle and bustle?  Do you need a break, some down time, some peace and quiet?  Come to beautiful Fort Bragg, on the Mendocino coast and celebrate the New Year small town style!  Check into one of our cozy and romantic B&B’s or book a comfortable room at one of our coast-side motels and hotels.  Many feature special packages and amenities for your celebration.  Thinking about champagne in the hot tub overlooking the winter waves? Fort Bragg is the place for you.

Book a table at one of favorite local restaurants and enjoy an intimate dinner without the holiday hassle.  Locally caught Dungeness crab is on the menu, and tastes great with a bottle of Mendocino County sparkling wine.  Don’t want to dress up; no problem, as most of our restaurants have a casual dress code.  Or, you can pick up a freshly cracked and cleaned crab in Noyo Harbor, choose a great bottle of wine and a loaf of Fort Bragg Bakery bread at a local grocer, and enjoy an indoor picnic in your room or vacation rental.

Looking for a night on the town, then pick up tickets for the Gloriana Musical Theatre’s Black and White Ball.  Tickets are still available at their website for this festive evening at the Fort Bragg Eagles Hall.  Doors open at 8:00P, live music begins at 9:00P.  Advance tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple, $35 and $60 at the door and include appetizers, a midnight champagne toast and the necessary hats, crowns and noismakers to ring in the new year in style.  No host bar and a silent auction round out the evening, with dancing to live music from The Mixed Nuts.  Dress to impress or just check out the scene.  Must be 21 years of age to attend.

On New Year’s Day, start 2015 with a First Day guided nature hike at MacKerricher State Park.  Meet at the park visitor center at 11:00AM and park interpreter Fred Andrews will be your guide for an educational walk that includes the annual gray whale migration and other fascinating wildlife found near our shores.  Binoculars are available and the hike is also wheelchair accessible.   Young children are also welcome, dogs must be on a leash.  For more information, you can call 707-961-0471.

The C. V. Starr Community Center will have an admission-free open day on New Year’s Day, from 12:00 noon to 5:00P.  Take a swim the beautiful indoor pool or catch a workout or class (class fees will apply).

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens will also be open for walks.  Winter hours are 9:00A – 4:00P, and the heaths and heathers are starting to bloom.  You can also view the large and varied bloom of wild mushrooms in the Gardens’ many habitats, or just walk out to the cliff house and watch the booming surf below.

Wild or mild, Fort Bragg has something for everyone, and is a year-round destination that’s just a short drive from the Central Valley, Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay area.  Start your New Year off right, in Fort Bragg.

Do the holidays make you crabby?

Posted on: December 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm by Julia Conway


Crab cake biggest winner

Nicholas Petti of Mendo Bistro, legacy winner of the Crab Cake Cook Off


The Christmas holidays in Fort Bragg means one thing…’s Dungeness crab season!  Starting in the end of November, and peaking in January and February, these tasty crustaceans find their way from the chilly Pacific into our grocery stores, restaurants and onto your table.  In celebration of the Dungeness crab, the Mendocino Coast Clinics bring you the ultimate crab extravaganza.

Mark your calendars for the weekend of January 23rd and 24th, when crabbiness rules in historic downtown Fort Bragg.  Looking for a great getaway after the holidays?  This is the weekend for you!  Fort Bragg opens its doors to the world for the Mendocino Crab, Wine and Beer Days and the centerpiece of the festival occurs in the big white tent behind the Portuguese Hall.

Friday night brings the cioppino dinner; three seatings at 4:30P, 6:00P and 8:00P.  Just $35 per person for adults, $15 per person for children 6-12 and those under 6 get in free.  The cioppino is served family style with Cafe Beaujolais bread, salad and dessert and finished off with Thanksgiving Coffee, roasted in Noyo Harbor.  Treat yourself to Mendocino county wines and brews from North Coast Brewing Company in the Crabby Bar.  Enjoy the silent auction and raffle and win some great prizes.  All proceeds benefit the Mendocino Coast Clinics.

And if that were not enough, Saturday brings the annual Crab Cake Cook-off, from 12:00N to 3:00P!  Taste delectable Dungeness crab cakes prepared by the area’s best chefs, and accompanied by Mendocino county’s best wines and brews.  Vote for your favorite chef, winemaker or brewmaster and see if you and the professional judges agree.  $85 per person for general admission and $125 per person to become a member of the exclusive Circle of Claws, with reserved seating and special limited admission.  The crab for this event is donated by Caito Fisheries, a cornerstone of Fort Bragg’s Noyo harbor.  As with Friday, all proceeds benefit the Mendocino Coast Clinics, bringing healthcare, well care, dental care and mental health services to Fort Bragg and beyond.  Check out the fabulous items in the live and silent auctions and sample ware from Mendocino county’s best food artisans.

For more information and online ticket sales, click HERE, or call the Mendocino Coast Clinics at 707-961-3463.  Book a room at one of Fort Bragg’s numerous lodging establishments, from romantic bed and breakfast inns to family friendly motels.  Why wait?  Come see Fort Bragg and the Mendocino coast at its most spectacular!  Big waves, colorful sunsets and fabulous food and libations.  Local or visitor, order your tickets today.

How many Fort Bragg folks does it take to trim a Christmas tree?

Posted on: December 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm by Julia Conway


The moon is the star

The full moon is the star atop the tree, photo courtesy of Joe Seta


As part of our Hometown Holiday Celebration in historic downtown Fort Bragg, a very tall Christmas tree is placed on the lawn of the Guest House museum and trimmed out for the holidays.  Not sure how it is done in your neck of the woods, but in Fort Bragg, if you want to cut a tree down, first you need to call a logger.  Fort Bragg’s tree is usually chosen and cut by our friends at Campbell Global, a regional timber management company that maintains much of the forest lands surrounding town, including the Jackson Demonstration State Forest.  Certified foresters go out and locate the perfect specimen, then bring in a crew of fellers to cut the tree and transport it downtown to the Guest House.

After the tree is delivered, City of Fort Bragg public works teams arrive to set and decorate the tree.  Of course, to place such a tall tree on the sloping lawn of the Guest House, you need more than a regular tree stand from the hardware store.  In fact, you need a hole that is close to the diameter of the tree trunk, and deep enough to anchor the tree in our blustery weather.  Who do you call when you want that kind of hole?  We call PG&E, who has a truck with a drill designed for setting telephone poles in the ground.  The PG&E crew assisted with digging the hole, and then the fun begins.

Drilling the hole

Drilling the hole, photo courtesy of Crystal Prairie

After removing the drill bit from their boom truck, the crew, assisted by the City crew, attached a cable to the hoist, as well as to the trunk of the tree.  The tree is then lifted high in the air, the boom swung around, and then carefully aligned with the hole.  With the crew on the ground guiding it, the trunk of the tree is slowly lowered into the hole.  Everyone circles around to ensure that the tree is straight and true, and dirt is packed in around the trunk to hold the tree in place.  Of course, with no root system, the first puff of wind would blow the tree over, so the next step is to attach guy wires all the way around the tree to prevent it from falling or leaning.

Lifting the tree

Lifting the tree, photo courtesy of Crystal Prairie


Righting the tree

Righting the tree, photo courtesy of Crystal Prairie


Setting the tree

Setting the tree, photo courtesy of Crystal Prairie


The cable is then detached from the tree, and it is ready for the City crew to decorate.  Still using the boom truck, lights are strung around and over the tree, and wired into a locked switch box.  The last step in the process is to hang the over sized ornaments on the tree limbs.  This part of the decorating is usually accomplished several days, even up to a week before the official tree lighting ceremony.

The tree is up

The tree is up, photo courtesy of Crystal Prairie


The tree is anchored

The tree is anchored, photo courtesy of Crystal Prairie

On that all important Saturday night, the candy cane lights are strung along the sidewalks to the Guest House museum, and the very special chair is set up inside in anticipation of Santa’s arrival.  As the sun sets, Christmas carolers serenade the gathering crowd, as children line up for their turn with Santa.

Since this is a big event in Fort Bragg, our friends at the Coast (KOZT FM radio) are running the sound system and broadcasting live from the tree.  At just the right moment, the Mayor arrives to light the tree. After thanking all of the people who made the event possible, he flips the switch while the crowds of children cheer.  Caroling continues in the light of the tree, Santa wraps up his visit, and it is time for the Holiday Lights Parade to begin.

The tree is lit

The tree is lit, photo courtesy of Joe Seta

As you can see, it truly takes a village to decorate for and to celebrate Christmas in Fort Bragg.  Thanks to everyone who makes this wonderful event possible!

Decorating downtown, and especially the tree; Tom Mitchell and the City of Fort Bragg Public Works crew, Campbell Global
Sound/media and tireless community  involvement; Tom Yates, Vicky Watts, and the entire team at KOZT FM The Coast
Santa Claus, invited and sponsored by the Fort Bragg Historical Society
Parade organization and promotion; Fort Bragg Fire Department and the North Coast Rodders
Parade staging; Steve Wells
Parade trophies; Danny Figueiredo
Parade Judges; Ben Nicholson and Scott Vorhees
Traffic control; Fort Bragg Police Department, Fort Bragg Fire Department and service club volunteers
Event promotion and coordination; The Fort Bragg Promotion Committee and the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce

Hometown Holiday Celebration Continues

Posted on: December 8, 2014 at 10:26 am by Julia Conway
Festival of Lights

Holiday lights at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Our Hometown Holiday celebrations may peak with the visit from Santa Claus, the Tree Lighting and the Holiday Lights Parade, but the festivities go on throughout the month of December!  Trade your big city malls for the small town warmth of our historic downtown and experience Christmas coastal style.

Starting on the 11th, the Skunk Train’s special Christmas Train departs the Fort Bragg station at 3:15PM for a 90-minute round-trip ride through the redwoods with Santa Claus!  A wonderful trip for children of all ages; click HERE to purchase tickets now, before they are all sold out!  This excursion is spectacular on a rainy winter day, and the forests have never been more beautiful.

Speaking of trains, the Mendocino Model Railway and Historical Society has a special Thomas the Tank Engine exhibit at their Model Railroad Layout in Fort Bragg.  Tickets are available at the Skunk Train depot, or click HERE for more information.  The exhibit is open every day the Skunk Train runs, from 1:00P to 3:30P through Christmas in the train barn at the Skunk depot.  Admission is free with a Skunk Train ticket, $5 for adults and $3 for children if you are not riding the train.  For a virtual tour of the barn and layout, click HERE.

This Saturday the 13th of December, gather in one of the many wharf-side restaurants in Noyo Harbor for the annual Lighted Boat Parade, sponsored by the Traditional Small Craft Association of Noyo Harbor.  Participating boats will gather at the US Coast Guard station at 5:30P and the parade is slated to begin at 6:00P, weather permitting.  The forecast for Friday looks good, so take the opportunity to share in another special tradition in our working harbor.  If you saw the boats in last weekend’s Holiday Lights parade, you will love them even more on the water. Dungeness crab is coming in by the bushel, so enjoy some while you watch the parade from the cozy warmth of one of the restaurants facing the harbor.

Ongoing through December 14th, rain or shine, is the Festival of Lights at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens!  Wander through the Gardens and view the beautiful bloom of holiday lights.  Special suppers will be available for purchase from David’s Deli, so this is a great outing for the whole family (please leave your pets at home, however).  More information and specific can be found HERE on their website.


Don’t let the parade pass you by!

Posted on: November 29, 2014 at 10:40 am by Julia Conway
Fort Bragg, CA Holiday Light Parade

Join the crowd curbside for a dazzling downtown Fort Bragg

A big part of the Hometown Holidays in historic downtown Fort Bragg is the Holiday Lights Parade.  Formerly known as the Lighted Truck Parade, this event reaches back into the town’s timber industry past.  While the focus of the parade today has changed, and the scope broadened, it is important to remember the origins of this holiday ritual.  Lighted truck and tractor parades were common in rural American towns, and helped to celebrate the end of the working year.  But after protests against the logging industry on the Northern California coast, the event was rechristened the Holiday Lights Parade.

This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday evening, December 6, 2015, following the lighting of Fort Bragg’s official Christmas tree and a visit from Santa Claus, which starts at 5:00P with Santa’s arrival.  Caroling begins at 6:00P followed by the tree lighting and the parade at 7:00P.  The parade will follow a route from west Pine Street’s judging area, to Franklin Street, to Oak Street and then on to Main Street to complete the circle back to Pine.  Viewing is possible along the entire route, with prime seats staked out early in across Main Street from the Guest House museum and the Christmas tree.  Please remember this is a family-friendly event, and no alcohol is permitted.

If you wish to help the community carry on this tradition, and honor our working community, you can enter a vehicle in the parade.  Click HERE for information and the entry form.  It’s not too late to help support this holiday tradition.  No vehicle is too small, so we hope to see you there, all decked out for the Christmas season.

If delayed by weather, the parade will be rescheduled for Friday, December 12th at the same place and time.

Celebrate a Hometown Holiday and shop small in Fort Bragg

Posted on: November 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm by Julia Conway
looking east up Laurel Street

Laurel Street

Looking for an alternative to the cookie-cutter merchandise in the big box discount stores?  Family and friends are visiting for Thanksgiving and need an activity for Friday or Saturday?  Want to get a head start on your Christmas list?  We have the answer for you.  Join us on Friday, November 28th and Saturday, November 29th in historic downtown Fort Bragg for some Hometown Holiday shopping!

Enjoy a slower pace of shopping with friendly and helpful people to greet and entertain you from 12:00N to 3:00P.  Browse our galleries, boutiques, bookshops, specialty stores, antique stores, toy and game stores and more!  There are more than 90 independently owned “small” shops, with something for everyone on your gift list, for all ages and budgets.  Enjoy strolling carolers and holiday decorations, and best of all, no standing in line for hours just to snag a mass-produced gift of the moment.  Park at one of the five convenient downtown lots and take a leisurely stroll along Franklin Street.  Enjoy a delicious hot beverage at one of our downtown cafes, or schedule a late lunch with your friends and family.  We’ll see you downtown this Thanksgiving weekend and thank you for shopping small and local!



What? More mushrooms you say?

Posted on: November 10, 2014 at 10:44 am by Julia Conway
Locally foraged Boletus Edulis

Locally foraged Boletus Edulis

The Mendocino Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival kicked off in style last weekend with the Zoppe’ Family Circus, the Mushroom Train and numerous Mushroom dinners at local restaurants.  With the beautiful Indian summer weather, there is lots to enjoy here in Fort Bragg, so don’t miss the next round of Mushroom themed events, scheduled through the Festival’s end on Sunday, November 16th.

Never searched for wild mushrooms on a mountain bike?  Bike Sprite in Fort Bragg is sponsoring outings in our beautiful redwood forests, traversing trails and logging roads in search of wild mushrooms.

Navarro Vineyards and Cucina Verona bring you a very special Winemaker dinner on Thursday, November 13th.  Call the restaurant at 707-964-6844 for details and reservations for this fabulous feast!

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens continues to host wild mushroom observation walks, Mondays starting November 17th and continuing into December!  No picking, but great opportunities to photograph local species in their natural habitat.

Wondering how to prepare all those fabulous fungi?  Assaggiare Mendocino is hosting a wild mushroom hike and cooking class on Saturday, November 15th starting at 10:00AM.  Call 707-961-9687 or email to reserve your spot!

Make plans to join the Beachcomber Inn and Spa for a festive lunch on the Captain’s Deck featuring tempting and tasty mushroom delights from Chef Scott Effinger of the Cliff House this Saturday, November 15th from 1:00P to 3:00P.  If you haven’t been there, the Beachcomber sports the best beach views in town, perched above the Pudding Creek beach and trestle.

Wrap up your festival week with the Fungi Finale at Jughandle Creek Farm and Nature Center, just a few miles south of Fort Bragg.  The party starts at 2:00P on Sunday, November 16th, so don’t miss your last chance to learn from local mushroom expert Eric Schramm of Mendocino Mushrooms.

Zoppe’ Family Circus Returns to Fort Bragg

Posted on: November 3, 2014 at 10:52 am by Julia Conway

Zoppe’ Family Circus, photo Hayley Ross,

Come experience the History of Zoppé – An Italian Family Circus since 1842!
The Zoppé Family Circus welcomes guests into the intimate 500-seat tent for a one-ring circus that honors the best history of the Old-World Italian tradition. Starring Nino the clown, the circus is propelled by a central story (as opposed to individual acts) with acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and plenty of audience participation. Giovanni Zoppé, the sixth-generation circus performer who plays Nino, says the show aims higher than what passes for circuses these days. “We try to touch every emotion during the show,” he says. “They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, and they’ll feel for the characters. It’s more of an event than a show.” Buy tickets here. And watch the circus here!

Showtime schedule – all at Todd’s Point, Oceanview Drive, Fort Bragg:
November 6 at 7:00 PM
November 7 at 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
November 8 at 1:00, 4:00 & 7:00 PM
November 9 at 1:00 & 4:00 PM

Pricing (proceeds benefit Three Rivers Charter School): Adults $18; VIP upgrade available before each show–$15 additional per ticket, first come/first serve; Kids $13; Under 3 years/free

Mushrooms in Fort Bragg?

Posted on: October 30, 2014 at 10:55 am by Julia Conway
Local boletes

Locally harvested boletes

The Mendocino County Mushroom, Wine and Brew Festival is right around the corner, and the local wild mushrooms have started to appear all over Fort Bragg.  Never tasted these delectable treats?  Not an experienced wild mushroom forager?  You can enjoy special mushroom-themed menus at local restaurants during the Festival, which runs from Friday, November 6th through Sunday, November 16th.  From fine dining to a quick snack, the restaurants of historic downtown Fort Bragg are all gearing up for the event.  Here’s a list of local favorites where you can indulge your hunger for these special seasonal treats.  Reservations recommended at those marked with an asterisk (*).

Mendo Bistro and Barbelow:  seasonal menu items and their famous Candy Cap creme brulee * (for groups of 5 or more)

Luna Trattoria:  Italian dishes to warm the heart and the belly *

Cucina Verona:  Local mushrooms paired with local seafood and special pastas *

The Cliff House:  Fabulous views of Noyo Harbor and a lively happy hour *

North Coast Brewing Company Taproom and Grill:  Mushrooms and weekend dinner jazz with local brews *

Piaci Pizzeria:  A local hangout with some of the best pizza in town and a wide range of microbrews on tap

The Q:  Fort Bragg’s favorite BBQ joint, great for a quick bite for lunch or dinner

Cowlick’s Ice Cream:  Their Candy Cap ice cream can only be improved by the addition of a swirl of local North Coast Brewing beer brittle

Try one, try them all, and tell us about your favorite mushroom dishes in the comments!

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