Archive for the ‘For Families’ Category

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Celebrate a Hometown Independence Day in Fort Bragg

Posted on: June 20, 2015 at 9:12 am by Julia Conway
Salmon BBQ

World’s Largest Salmon BBQ in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor

Don’t wait to make your plans to celebrate Independence Day 2015 in Fort Bragg!  Due to the popularity of the weekend’s events, available rooms, rental homes and campsites fill up quickly.  Don’t miss out on all the fun activities here on the beautiful Mendocino Coast at the height of our summer season.  In addition to the parade down in Mendocino, the entire family can enjoy a host of other activities right here in Fort Bragg.


Mountain biking in the woods of Fort Bragg

Posted on: June 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm by Julia Conway
Wild Wood Enduro

Wild Wood Enduro

Did you know Fort Bragg is a hot spot for off-road cyclists?  The myriad of old logging roads and trails that dissect the old timber parcels in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest are perfect for the sport.  Check out our pages on cycling in Fort Bragg and on the Mendocino Coast for more details and trail information.

Coming up in the middle of June, the California Enduro Series will make a stop in Fort Bragg for the Wild Wood Enduro.


The Tenth Anniversary of the Mendocino Film Festival comes to Fort Bragg

Posted on: May 28, 2015 at 10:34 am by Julia Conway
Will Durst in "3 Still Standing"

Will Durst in “3 Still Standing”


Ten years ago, a group of visionary film lovers founded the festival, and it has grown to include venues in Willits, the Anderson Valley, Point Arena and our own Coast Cinemas in Fort Bragg.


It’s a Whale of a Project!

Posted on: April 9, 2015 at 1:38 pm by Julia Conway
Discovery Center

Noyo Center Community Learning Center rendering

In conjunction with Phase II of the Coastal Trail construction, plans are starting to move forward for the permanent home of the Noyo Center for Marine Science at the south end of the Georgia Pacific mill site.  The map linked here provides the site plan for both the recently constructed and opened Phase I at the north end of the property, and the areas currently under construction in Phase II.

The planned campus will include a 5600 square foot Community Learning Center, The Whale House, which will be the new home of the Blue Whale skeleton, currently under restoration, and a proposed marine science research facility.

The Discovery Center is envisioned as the main public exhibit space accommodating up to an estimated 150,000 visitors per year. The main features will include:

  • Aquaria, interactive exhibits, and touch pools
  • Interpretation of sustainable design features
  • Discovery Cafe
  • Auditorium and small outdoor amphitheater
  • Gift Shop
  • Interactive courtyard and restored gardens
  • Living Roof


Spring Fling in Fort Bragg!

Posted on: March 23, 2015 at 10:26 am by Julia Conway
Photo courtesy of the Botanical Gardens.

Photo courtesy of the Botanical Gardens.


Nothing heralds spring on the Mendocino Coast like the annual migration of the gray whales, the arrival of the baby seals and sea lions, and the bright flashes of riotous color of the blooming rhododendrons.  Rivaling the brilliant oranges, golds, purples and red of our sunsets, these perennial shrubs beg you to stop and appreciate their beauty!  In celebration of the height of the bloom, two free events will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 2nd and 3rd.

Co-sponsored by the American Rhododendron Society Noyo Chapter and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, the annual Rhododendron Show and Sale will take place on both Saturday the 2nd and Sunday the 3rd from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.  The juried show is expected to be the largest in California, if not the entire Pacific coast.  The big white tent houses hundreds of colorful blooms for viewing, as well as bonsai, photographs and floral arrangements.  Don’t miss the raffle for gifts and the silent auction, and plan to tour the gardens with your $1 admissions discount.  People’s choice awards and educational displays will complement the show.  For details and entry information, visit

Don’t miss the second annual Rhododendron Walk on Saturday the 2nd, from 11:00AM through 4:00PM.  The event features a passport drawing for prizes, strolling musicians and refreshments at Town Hall on the corner of Laurel and Main.  To attend, pick up a passport at any participating merchant and start exploring the fascinating shops, galleries and boutiques.  Have your passport stamped by at least ten of the over thirty merchants and become eligible for a random drawing for fabulous prizes (no purchase necessary).  Be sure to return your passports to any participating merchant by 3:30PM or to Town Hall prior to the 4:00PM drawing.  Download and print your passport for a list of participating merchants here.

While Gardens admission is not required to view the show, the Gardens are offering a $1 discount admissions coupon for show attendees and Rhododendron Walk passport holders.  The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, listed by Sunset Magazine as second on their list of top western public gardens, has one of the nation’s largest collections of rhododendrons—more than 1000 at last count, with many hybridized here on the Mendocino Coast—and they promise to fill the formal gardens and woodlands with riotous color.  Rhody’s Café at the Gardens will be open both days, serving snacks, lunch, and ice cream.  Leashed pets are welcome in the gardens, so bring the entire family.  For more information, visit

A wide variety of rhododendron plants may be purchased at the show.  Local growers and Noyo Chapter members will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the best plants for your garden.

All rhodie growers are welcome to enter their best trusses for judging. Those wishing to participate should bring their entries to the Botanical Gardens on Thursday, May 1st, between 5:00PM and 7:00 PM, or on Friday, May 2nd, between 9:00AM and 1:00 PM.  Chapter members will be available to assist in filling out entry forms.  Judging will take place Friday afternoon, beginning at 3:00PM.  Judges will award ribbons and trophies to top entries in a wide range of categories.  For further details, please visit: or call (707) 962-0565.

MacKerricher’s New Babies

Posted on: March 14, 2015 at 9:43 am by Julia Conway
Baby seal

Baby Harbor seal, photo courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott


Spring brings many signs of the season to Fort Bragg and the Mendocino coast, but none tickles our hearts more than the arrival of a new generation of baby Harbor seals and sea lions to the rocks of the California Coastal Monument offshore at MacKerricher State Park.  Locals and visitors alike flock to the Haul Road trail north of Lake Cleone to view and photograph what have been called the “puppies of the sea.”


Baby seal swimming

Swimming baby Harbor seal, photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott


The adorable expressions on the faces of these young marine mammals entrances local photographer Jennifer Hendershott, who has shared these fabulous images on our Facebook page.  Whether swimming with their mothers in the shallow waters surrounding the rocks, or sunning themselves in groups, the similarities with human children are unmistakable and enchanting.


Baby seals sunning

Baby Harbor seals sunning, photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hendrshott


The Marine Mammal Center‘s biologists warn visitors to observe and photograph from a distance.  All of these photos were captured with a distance lens.  As with any species, the mothers are extremely protective of the babies, and are capable of inflicting bites and other injuries on unsuspecting and well-meaning observers.  If you come across a stranded or lone baby that appears to be in distress, contact the Park Rangers or call either the Marine Mammal Center’s hotline at 415-289-SEAL or NOAA’s hotline at 866-755-6622.


Mother and baby seal

Mother and baby Harbor seal, photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott

A whale of a good time in Fort Bragg!

Posted on: February 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm by Julia Conway
whale tail

Gray whale, photo courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott


The annual migration of the California Gray Whale is here, and so is the annual Fort Bragg Whale Festival.  The third in a series of weekends dedicated to these amazing marine mammals, the two days are jam-packed with fun and activities.

Whale Run and Walk; Saturday, March 21 at 8:00A on the MacKerricher Haul Road, 10K and 5K run, 5K competitive walk, 5K fun walk and half-mile kids race starting at 7:30A.  More details and entry information HERE.

Chowder Tasting; Saturday, March 21 11:00A – 1:00P at Town Hall, your favorite local restaurants compete for the title of People’s Choice, come early to make sure you taste all the entries before they run out!  $10 admission, North Coast Brewing Company will be there serving up tasty beverages.

Microbrew Beer Tasting; Saturday, March 21, 12:00N – 4:00P at the Eagles Hall.  21 and over only please, $30 admission.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse; Saturday and Sunday, docent-led whale watching tours (weather permitting), lens tours and walks to nearby Frolic Cove with the story of the clipper brig Frolic, wrecked in July of 1850.

MacKerricher State Park; Family-friendly scavenger hunt, paint the whale skeleton, slide show (March 20th), docent-led whale  and wildlife walks/talks.  Harbor seals, sea lions and elephant seals are also calving and visible on the offshore rocks.

Book a whale watching tour from Noyo Harbor.  Check out the details HERE.

Take a Whale Walk on the new Coastal Trail; Sunday March 22 10:00A – 11:00A, $12 and kids under ten free when accompanied by an adult, includes tour and a special whale-themed souvenir, call the Chamber for tickets and info 707-961-6300.

Watch the whales from the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, open daily.

Don’t miss the fun!  Book your room today!

Guest Article*; the story of Fort Bragg’s Blue Whale

Posted on: February 16, 2015 at 8:36 am by Julia Conway

Articulating the Noyo vision, bone by bone

In 2009, a lethal strike from a ship’s propeller off the Mendocino coast tragically killed a 73-foot female blue whale. This ship-strike, a leading threat to these magnificent mammals, has been turned into a story of Fort Bragg’s community coming together around the vision of the Noyo Marine Science Center.

At Noyo, we believe that the desire to learn about and protect our marine environment will only come with a powerful emotional connection to the amazing underwater world.

Our dream is to turn our blue whale bones into a world-class exhibit that will represent the Noyo vision to:

  • Create a space in which scientists, artists and the public (of all ages) can work together, learn from each other and create multi-disciplinary opportunities
  • Captivate and draw young minds toward a deeper level of inquiry and connection with the marine world
  • Inspire our local population and attract visitors to the Mendocino coast


Blue whale skeleton

Artist’s rendering of the articulated skeleton


The story of “our” whale:


When the devastating news that a 73-ft long female blue whale had suffered a lethal injury from a ship’s propeller off our coast in 2009 became public, the community of Fort Bragg came together.  Seeing this beautiful whale washed up on shore was so moving that members of our community voiced an idea to salvage the skeleton for Fort Bragg, regardless of the fact that there would be no agency or university leading the effort.  Working with NOAA, the City was able to obtain rights to acquire the skeleton for eventual public display.  More than 200 people walked away from their normal lives to participate in an unprecedented community effort to haul 70-tons of bones and blubber up a 40-foot cliff and bury the whale in compost out in the forest.  It was a monumental task.

Students from all over got a once-in-a-lifetime blue whale-sized anatomy lesson during the flensing process as we worked with national experts to provide as many samples for research as possible.

After four years of sitting in compost and sand in large pits in the forest, our amazing volunteers once again came together with the City of Fort Bragg to carefully dig out each bone.  Thankfully, microbes and insects had done a good job, and most of the flesh was gone.  Some bones, like the caudal vertebrae near the tail, were still encased in very strong connective tissue and had to be put back in compost to finish the job.  The bones were trucked to the wastewater treatment plant in Fort Bragg where we have been cleaning and scrubbing them (what a great place for this dirty job!)

The skeleton is now in storage awaiting funding to begin the next stage of the restoration process: degreasing to remove the (extremely smelly!) internal oils.

Cleaning – We have already come a long way in preparing our blue whale skeleton for display.  Members of our community who helped to collect the skeleton flensed away about 70 tons of flesh to extract the bones.  We have since relied on composting, insects and soil microorganisms to remove the remaining soft tissues and we’re ready to move on to the next stage.

Degreasing – Whale bones are composed of both compact and cancellous hard tissues.  Compact bone is found in the outer regions of bones and in the load-bearing regions of the skeleton.  It is solid and dense.  Cancellous bone, on the other hand, is sponge-like.  It is less rigid and is filled with oil that serves as a nutrient reserve and aids in buoyancy in living whales.  Did you know that this oil can comprise up to 40-50% of the weight of a blue whale skeleton??!

Left alone, the oil quickly becomes rancid and unbelievably stinky in saturated whale bones.  Understandably, for a public display, 100% of this stinky oil must be removed.  Extracting the oil without damaging the hard bony tissues is by far the biggest challenge in the job of preparing a whale skeleton for display and this step will take several months to complete carefully.  We are currently working with a team of experienced scientists to plan our degreasing strategy and we are working hard to raise funds to get this step underway.

Restoration – Since our whale encountered a ship’s propeller, several vertebrae and parts of the skull have been damaged.  We want the public to know the story of our whale’s death so we plan to do minimal repair to these areas.  However, more trauma to the skeleton occurred when the carcass was washed up on the beach since whale skeletons are not built for bearing their own weight on land. We plan to restore these broken bones to their original condition.

There are many great artistic products that are available to articulators and museum conservators to do this kind of restoration.  This stage is very fun and will involve learning blue whale anatomy in great detail and calling on a talented team of artists to repair, sculpt and paint the broken areas to restore the skeleton.  Next, we’ll be ready to put our bones back together.

Articulation  – The world of a whale remains mysterious to most of us since the vast amount of its time is spent below the surface of the ocean.  Most historic articulations of large whales portray, well, the dead whale that was found on land.  The recent advancement of underwater remote sensing technology has shed much light on the amazingly dynamic lives that whales actually lead under water and off-shore.  This has allowed the science of whale skeleton articulation to progress beyond an anatomical exercise into an exciting discipline that fuses science and art.

Using top-quality artistic materials and cutting edge articulation techniques, we plan to design a dynamic, scientifically accurate and elegant display that will breathe life.  The exhibit will allow people of all ages to intimately experience the life and ecology of a whale up close.  Visitors will connect with the vastness of the marine environment of the Mendocino coast and beyond, and continue toward a deeper learning experience at the Noyo Center.

We are thrilled to have Cetacea Contracting, renowned in modern skeleton articulation techniques, on our team to help lead us through the skeleton building process. Check out their website to see some more examples of dynamic skeleton articulations and see the image below for an idea of the possibilities available for our blue whale skeleton exhibit.

If you would like to learn more about this exciting project or see how you can get involved, please contact us or donate today!

* Content courtesy of the Noyo Center for Marine Science

Coastal Trail and Glass Beach Open

Posted on: February 4, 2015 at 10:43 am by Julia Conway
Noyo Headlands Trail

Coastal Trail now open


The City of Fort Bragg celebrated the soft opening of the Noyo Headlands Park and the Coastal Trail (Phase 1), reopening access to Glass Beach after several months of limited use.  The new trail is accessible from the parking area at the end of Elm Street, and is available for walking, skating, biking and on-leash pets.


New trail

The new trail just prior to the opening


While the areas immediately adjacent to the new trail are still restricted, you can walk all the way from the Pudding Creek trestle to Otsuchi Point, overlooking Soldier Bay.  Habitat restoration is still being completed on the sensitive bluff tops, so visitors should remain on the paved sections of the trail until otherwise indicated.


Glass Beach

Additional Glass Beach coves


The trail also provides access to the northernmost coves of the Glass Beach complex, previously only accessible via kayak or at very low tides.  Visitors are cautioned to remain on the trail, and to navigate the beach steps carefully, as the recent construction has not had adequate time to settle.  Additional safety features, such as handrails, will be installed as the build-out of trail amenities continues.


Mill story

Interpretive panels tell the story of the mill


Visitors can also enjoy the new interpretive panels that tell the history of the mill site and of Fort Bragg’s logging past.  The mill site owners still retain a large portion of the land east of the trail, which is undergoing environmental remediation required prior to sale or development.  Please do not trespass or enter fenced-in areas.

For a video tour of the new Coastal Trail (thanks to Mendocino TV), click HERE.

Plans continue for Phase II of the project, which will link Phase I with the Pomo Bluffs access and park at the south end of Fort Bragg.  For more information, check the progress on the City website HERE.

Photos courtesy of KOZT-The Coast and the City of Fort Bragg.

Ten Great Reasons to come to Fort Bragg now!

Posted on: January 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm by Julia Conway
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!

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