If you’re looking for a rustic, but relaxing vacation, I have just the place for you. Located in beautiful, coastal Mendocino County, the Brewery Gulch Inn offers a gorgeous backdrop and the perfect mix of seclusion and civilization – the “Inn” perfected.
Surrounded by pine forests and Mendocino Bay, Brewery Gulch sits upon a windswept bluff overlooking the rugged Mendocino coast. Their vaulted ceilings and lots of glass catch the views. With just 10 rooms, as well as the 700-square foot Serenity Cottage, the inn is an intimate retreat. Hob nob with fellow travelers or enjoy some well-earned solitude.
Owner, Guy Pacurar looked at 29 inns across the country before finally finding Brewery Gulch and he’s never looked back. “I like the clean, contemporary lines; the huge windows that fill the Great Room with light; the deck out back overlooking Smuggler’s Cove. In short, I like the way the original owner worked to create a restful property that embraced the best of what makes the North Coast a unique destination”, said Pacurar.
The delicious (no joke) made to order breakfast will get you going on your busy (or quiet) day. And after you return, enjoy their full dinner buffet that features a main dish, two sides and a dessert, accompanied by local wines and beers. “Shortly after I bought Brewery Gulch, we decided to upgrade from a cook to a chef, and we hired our first “5 star” chef, Kendrick Anderson. Hailing from Nantucket, he elevated our cuisine substantially and established our rep for great food,” said Pacurar.
You may be content to sit on the deck, enjoy the sunshine, catch the spectacular bluff-top views, watch the birds and other wildlife or simply curl up with a book. Still, there’s no shortage of activities in surrounding Mendocino.
On the more active side, there’s scuba diving, biking, tennis, whale watching and kayaking or stand up paddle (SUP). I particularly recommend visiting Catch-a-Canoe & Bicycles Too. Established in 1972, they offer a unique selection of outrigger canoes, locally handcrafted from salvaged barn wood, kayaks, and bicycles for exploring beautiful Big River and beyond. There’s no better way to take in Mendocino’s beautiful coastline than from the water.
There are a variety of beaches, including Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach for sea glass connoisseurs. I also recommend checking out the Point Arena Lighthouse, about an hour south, which also offers some unique lodging on the coast.
If you’d like to stay on dry land, Russian Gulch State Park is a little over three miles away. There are tide pools, a beach and a two-mile trail that leads to a waterfall. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, in Fort Bragg offers a year-round display of plants and flowers, and Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve can provide your fill of redwoods. “Indian Summer is our secret season when the beaches are free and the weather is top notch,” said Koleen Hamblin of Visit Mendocino County.
This is Northern California, so naturally there are vineyards: Navarro, Lazy Creek and particularly Goldeneye, which is owned by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn of Napa Valley fame.
“I think a trip to Mendocino is more of an intentional escape than a visit. An escape from our daily lives and the chance to spend time in a scenically breathtaking place – many times completely unplugged (limited cell). A chance to breathe fresh ocean air; marvel at the stars and perhaps catch a glimpse of the Milky Way”, said Pacurar.
Outside the inn, there are a number of fine dining choices, including the Little River Inn and Trillium Café.
Little River is where family hospitality meets fine cuisine. Looking out upon magnificent ocean and garden views, the Little River Inn Restaurant offers delicious dishes like Asian Calamari Salad, pinenut crusted salmon, Osso Bucco or “Better than Mom’s” Meatloaf. Try the warm olallieberry cobbler for dessert and indulge in their caramel and chocolate latte. The Inn offers an annual Abalone Camp, where you can learn to dive for, catch, and prepare your own wild abalone. Chef Marc Dym guides the process and, for the less adventurous, offers farmed abalone on the regular menu.
Trillium is located in the heart of Mendocino Village where you can walk everywhere from the shops and art galleries to the beach. “I love that we have achieved the feeling of fine dining with a casual, relaxed feel, with excellent service and amazing local seasonal cuisine. I think guests also appreciate having the menu change periodically to match what we have available locally, like fresh King Salmon and wild berries in the summer. And crab and mushrooms in the fall and winter,” said Sandra McElroy, Trillium’s owner.
As you return to the Brewery Gulch Inn you can take in a sunset and enjoy the surroundings. “I love the feeling you get when you walk through the massive front door of the Inn. I hear this time and again from our guests…they are immediately relaxed as they step across the threshold. And if we do our jobs well, they carry that feeling with them when they depart”, said Pacurar.
Jennifer Boden is a KRON 4 contributor and founder of Dine and Travel. Jennifer, a former news anchor, lives and plays in Northern California’s Wine Country.