Garden by the Sea

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

As one of the most spectacular botanical gardens in the country, Fort Bragg's Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens makes a splash in more ways than its fabulous flora. Its 47 acres includes a stunning bluffside hiking trail overlooking the Pacific, where cliffs drop dramatically to the wild waves below. Pack a picnic and plan to stay awhile; there's plenty to admire here with pathways that lead to garden collections galore. The Heritage Rose Garden is starting to bloom in time for Mother’s Day, featuring the Heritage Rose with a lineage dating back to the 1500s. Succulents demonstrate that even cacti can grow on the Mendocino Coast. The marquee attraction: over 400 species of fragrant rhododendron, including the big leaf, which grow up to 40 feet high, and the prized "Noyo Chief" (Fort Bragg's official flower) with its vibrant red trusses. Blossoms like camellias, irises, and dahlias are spring favorites. Take a stroll through the Parrish Family Homestead, a farmhouse with apple and cherry orchards, ponds, and a cemetery. Then follow trails beyond the well-tended gardens to reach a much more rugged side. The Coastal Bluff Trail slinks along the coast, where you'll also find the Cliff House, a protected shelter perched on ocean's edge, looking out to spectacular vistas.

BEER BONUS: A pioneer in craft beer, North Coast Brewing Company in the historic town of Fort Bragg just keeps winning awards. Taste the proof for yourself at this legendary local brewery taproom, popular for its premium Red Seal Ale and ultrapremium 94-point Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (the Gold Medal Winner at the 2014 World Beer Championship). Pair it with the pub menu.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is on the ocean side of Highway One, 2 miles south of Fort Bragg and 7 miles north of Mendocino. North Coast Brewing, 444 N. Main St., Fort Bragg. No dogs.

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