Whether you ride the Skunk Train through the redwoods or horses on the beach, there is plenty to keep both kids and parents moving at a full gallop for a weekend or a week. Because the city of 6,000 is small, it’s easy to get around with everything within minutes of a motel, inn or campground.
Here’s just a sampling of the many family-friendly activities:
1. Beachcomb at Glass Beach – ocean-smoothed colored glass among the rocks and in the sand create the opportunity for a family treasure hunt.
2. Explore a lighthouse – the restored 1909 Point Cabrillo Light Station (two museums and gift shop) offers a tide pool exhibit for families and a surrounding 300-acre nature preserve for hiking and viewing wildlife. Look for seals, sea lions, whales, birds, and deer.
3. Visit a rare pygmy forest – Jug Handle State Reserve is one of few places in the world where you find miniature trees whose growth is stunted by nutrient poor, acidic soil. Mostly a level walk through giant redwoods to a boardwalks that leads you safely through the delicate pygmies. The small sandy beach at Jug Handle is one of the safest for children. Still, it’s a good idea to be watchful and keep hold of kids near the water at all times.
4. Ride the train – the historic Skunk Train will carry you through the redwoods, stopping for a barbecue at the turnaround.
5. Ride horses on Ten-Mile Beach or in Jackson State Forest.
6. Play mini-golf at the Emerald Dolphin Mini Golf Course on Highway 1 near Highway 20.
7. Picnic in the small sandy coves at Ten-Mile Beach, the shores of Cleone Lake at MacKerricher State Park and or on the bluffs at Pomo Bluffs Park (with its paved walkway or wheelchairs or strollers). All provide a perfect setting for an outdoor lunch.
8. Watch whales, catch crabs, fish or view sea birds from a Noyo Harbor charter boat.
9. Walk or ride bikes across the Pudding Creek Trestle Bridge along the paved Haul Road for a few minutes or a few hours, watching wildlife and wild waves along the way.
10. Explore the gardens and have lunch and or Cowlick’s ice cream at the 47-acre Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Trail to the ocean. Signs to help you spot birds.
11. Kayak on Noyo River or along the coast.
12. Watch the dogs playing inside the new fenced, off-leash dog park.
13. Let the kids play at Wiggly Piggly Playground (free), on Laurel Street, across from the Fort Bragg Library, 499 Laurel at Whipple.
14. The local six-screen cinema has current movie offerings.
Fort Bragg also offers a wide range of family-style restaurants whether the kids are hungry for pizza, burgers or sandwiches.