Travel Guide: Fort Bragg, California

Jamie DannoFort Bragg, California

Last year I started a new tradition promising myself that every year for my birthday I would take a trip. My first birthday trip was to Cabo San Lucus, and this year I decided to go to Fort Bragg, California. Living in Northern California, Fort Bragg is just a stone’s throw away from Chico – a mere 4 hours. I’ve come to realize that sometimes it doesn’t matter how far or extravagant the getaway is, the goal is to not only take a trip, because who doesn’t love a vacay, but more importantly I think it’s necessary to press pause on your day-to-day routine, experience a change of scenery and reflect on the past year. As someone who loves to travel, it didn’t matter if I was going to France or Fort Bragg – I couldn’t wait to get out of town, relax and celebrate a new year older!

Fort Bragg, CaliforniaJamie Danno

Usually, we try to take the puppy baby with us wherever we go. It’s just more fun when he’s a part of everything. Fur-parents – you get it. Since we are very hands on puppy parents (is there such a thing as helicopter parents for puppies?), and because Harp is a very active 5-year-old pup, we are constantly attending to him – as we should. But it can be hard to fully relax. I joke, but honestly, I compare it to having a kid. Although you love them, sometimes it’s just nice for the “adults” to get away. So, we decided to let Harp sit this one out.

In the beginning, when I started to plan my birthday trip, I had no limitations. I was looking at flights, different countries, climates, terrains – you name it. I decided there were three things that were important to me for this particular trip:

  1. It must have ocean views.
  2. It must feel luxurious, yet private.
  3. It must have a unique charm.

The Inn at Newport RanchFort Bragg, CaliforniaFort Bragg, CaliforniaThe Inn at Newport Ranch

It would have been so easy, and I’m sure plenty fun, to book a name brand resort like the Fairmont in SF, Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay or similar. But I relish in finding new places that have authentic character, personality and provide a unique experience. I realized that with the way my schedule is, I couldn’t manage to take a week off from work and that meant less time for travel logistics. I decided that I’d rather spend more time (and money) at the physical destination – meaning that somewhere closer to home would be the perfect option. 

During my research, The Inn at Newport Ranch kept popping up in unexpected places. This sounds weird because I know we’re talking about lodging, but I’m totally the person to believe in signs and that things always happen for a reason – and so, this was my omen from the travel gods. Plus, as I dug deeper, I feel in love with everything I saw! I knew that this would be the perfect place to turn a year older.

The Inn at Newport RanchThe Inn at Newport RanchFort Bragg, California

Where the Redwoods Meet the Coast

Every review and picture I saw did not do this place justice. The Inn at Newport Ranch is a hidden gem – so much so I almost want to keep it a secret from the world! From the moment we drove onto its grounds, to the interior design, coffee in the morning and not to mention the views, everything – including the staff – exceeded my expectations.

Located about 15 minutes from the heart of Fort Bragg, California, The Inn at Newport Ranch encompasses 2,000 acres of coastal cattle ranch off the site of the former town Newport and its lumber chute– yes you read that correct two thousand acres. With over a mile of oceanfront, three miles of ridge tops, panoramic coastal views and 20 miles of world class hiking and riding trails through redwoods and along the coast, the ranch is a unique private domain for vacations, conferences, weddings, and events.

The Inn at Newport RanchThe Inn at Newport Ranch

Luxury Lodging

The Inn has a very intimate exclusive feel with housing 4 guest rooms, 3 suites, and an oceanfront home. The Main Inn building houses the three guest rooms – we stayed in the Chute room, which showcases memorabilia of the historic Newport Lumber Chute formally located on the ranch. Each room has a private bath and access to the amazing rooftop hot tub, which has 360 views the ocean and hills. On the main floor, you will find the living room, dining area, library, wrap-around porch, and terrace are all open to guests. On the other end of the Main Inn, you have the breathtaking Newport room with high ceilings, and a long table paired with chairs that can seat 50 people for meals. This dining area also has an extraordinary seating area in front of a 20-foot stone walk-in fireplace, which you can actually sit in!

The Inn at Newport RanchThe Inn at Newport Ranch
One thing I loved most about this Inn is the attention to detail and how every inch of this place is intentional. Plush robes and fireplaces in the rooms, complimentary garden-fresh breakfast served each morning, jazz music playing throughout as another reminder to relax and enjoy, fixtures and furniture made from historic artifacts, and also a complimentary happy hour with local wines, cheese plates with fruit every evening either out on the bluffs or fireside in the living room. Every inch of this enchanting Inn tells a story and has a purpose. One mind blowing fact that we learned was that the entire flooring of the living room is made from ONE redwood tree – one. massive. beautiful. redwood tree. I think you can believe me when I say it’s hard to not get lost in the magic of all this Inn has to offer.

every inch of this enchanting Inn tells a story and has a purpose…

The Inn at Newport Ranch

Wine & Dining in Fort Bragg, California

Wild Fish, Little River CaliforniaThe first night we stayed at the Inn we made reservations for dinner. They offer a 3-course dinner daily consisting of “comfort ranch food,” which is served at their communal table with the other guests that are staying at the Inn. 

Their Chef prepares his choice of one entree, such as local chicken, seafood or steak, along with other accompaniments from their garden, finished off with a homemade dessert. I was pleasantly surprised that the chef’s menu fit perfectly within my new lifestyle and diet. We had a delicious filet mignon cut with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes pair with local pinot noir from Russian River. (Okay, so I splurge with a little wine ;)) And then for dessert: apple cobbler ala mode – which I had to have at least one bite of!

It was so fun to sit with complete strangers who were also seeing and experiencing this wonderful place for the first time. There are not many times when you are sitting at a table with people you have never met to enjoy an amazing meal together. I just loved hearing about these people’s lives, where they traveled from, laughing at shared experiences, and point blank just enjoying good conversation – no cell phones, no distractions, just good food and good people. 

Breakfast both days at the Inn was nothing short of marvelous. We woke up to the smell of freshly brewed local coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Company (my new found obsession!). They even had almond milk prepared for me to use! I’m telling you, they stole my heart one conscious detail at a time. In addition to the coffee, a gorgeous spread of home-baked muffins, yogurt, breakfast cake, and fresh fruit was ready to snack on before their main breakfast was served. 

One of our favorite parts of this trip was serving ourselves coffee in their oversized mugs and taking a short walk down to the bluffs. Remember when I mentioned how everything about this place was intentional? At many spots along the property’s bluffs, benches and chairs made from local driftwood were readily waiting. Some guests on the property said they even saw whales out in the distance. We didn’t manage to see them, but just knowing they were out there, swimming amongst the great ocean was enough for me.

The Inn at Newport RanchDSC01005The Inn at Newport RanchWild Fish, Little River CaliforniaFort Bragg, California

Our second evening for dinner we decided to venture off the property and go to a local seafood restaurant located in Litte River, California – just a few miles outside downtown Mendocino. Wild Fish is a small hidden establishment that shares walls with a general store and gas station. From the road, you could easily miss this delicious discovery.

Per usual, we were running a few minutes behind. Feeling flustered and a bit rushed when we walked in, we were graciously greeted by one of the owners – an adorable older man with an English accent. He assured us our table would ready momentarily and lucky for us, our tardiness served us well. We were situated right next to an open window that overlooked the coastal garden and oceanfront. The enchantment didn’t stop there. Next, the other owner, the wife of the husband and wife duo, came to tell us about the delicious local specials. I so enjoyed how personable the two owners and their staff were. If I was to judge this establishment on their wit and charm alone, I would give it 5 stars.

After much deliberation, ya ya I’m a bit indecisive when it comes to amazing food, I got their encrusted Alaskan Halibut with saffron rice, garden veggies garnished with carrot puree. K got a local fish caught right there in the Mendocino harbor. Both entrees were fresh, seasoned to perfection and paired well with their local white wines.

Fort Bragg, CaliforniaThe Inn at Newport Ranch

Coastal Views and Hiking Trails

We couldn’t help but take advantage of the Inn’s 20 miles of trails and 2000 acres to explore! Luckily, the weather cleared up just in time for our only full day at the ranch. K and I traveled off the main grounds inland to the hills and ridgelines. What was once logging roads has been transforming into well-maintained trails that take you through redwoods, along streams, and into little meadows. The Inn offers ATV tours, but K and I decided to do the trails by foot – in total about an 8.5-mile loop. Along the way, we got close and personal with the local cattle, walked across fresh streams, saw miles of coastal landscapes and breathed in the fresh redwood air – it was amazing!

The Inn at Newport RanchFort Bragg, CaliforniaThe Inn at Newport Ranch

If you haven’t realized yet, I am in love with this oceanfront Inn! I feel like even this description of our trip does not sustain the magic of this place. It has everything you need for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway. The only question I had after our time experiencing the Inn at Newport Ranch was how soon can we come back?! 

Whether you’re based in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, or honestly anywhere else in the world, the Inn at Newport Ranch is a must see! To experience the Inn for yourself, I encourage you to explore all it has to offer.

I’m always looking for unique lodging and experiences such as this, do you have a favorite “hidden gem”? If so, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below! 

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