A weekend in … Mendocino County, Calif.

Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.

Weekend in Mendocino County, Calif., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.

Trip tips: With an area three times the size of Rhode Island, Mendocino County offers ancient forests, untouched wilderness, organic wineries, a thriving arts and crafts community, quaint 19th-century homes, beaches and 17 state parks. The picturesque Village of Mendocino is on the National Register of Historic Places; www.visitmendocino.com. 

Getting there: The San Francisco/Bay Area to the Mendocino Coast along the Historic Pacific Coast Highway 1 is 185 miles. One-way rates to San Francisco average $180 during frequent sale periods. Service is nonstop on AirTran or Delta.


Stay: The oceanfront Agate Cove Inn is a place for peace and solitude. Nap in the hammock for two, chill in the oceanview hot tub or pull up an Adirondack chair for front-row views of the Pacific. On site are 11 private cottages and guest rooms with feather beds, luxury linens, down comforters, robes, fireplace and private deck. Rates from $189-$279. 11201 Lansing St. 707-937-0551, www.agatecove.com.

Eat: The Lobby Lounge at the Mendocino Hotel features a handsomely carved antique bar, a dramatic stained-glass ceiling and a bistro-style menu. Sandwiches from $13 to $16 for a shaved prime rib sandwich; $13-$17 entrees. 45080 Main St., Mendocino. 707-937-0511, www.mendocinohotel.com.

Experience: Mendocino Headlands State Park surrounds the village of Mendocino on three sides. Trails follow the ocean all the way around the headlands with ideal spots for whale-watching (late December-April). Big River Beach is part of a 7,400-acre wildlife corridor at Mendocino Headlands State Park. Freshwater and brackish marshland, mudflats, stands of redwoods, hardwoods, pine and cypress attract a habitat for more than two dozen rare and threatened species. Kayaking and canoeing Big River's forested canyon are popular activities. Hikers can connect to adjacent parkland for access to a trail network of more than 100 miles. The Historic Ford House is the park's visitor center and features historic photographs, tools and relics that tell the story from the felling of the redwoods to the shipping of the lumber aboard schooners. Free. 735 Main St. 707-937-5397, www.parks.ca.gov.


Stay: Alegria Inn is situated on the ocean side of Main Street in historic Mendocino Village. The inn property consists of the main house and a collection of cottages nestled on a bluff overlooking Big River Beach and an ocean cove. Enjoy perennial gardens, an oceanview deck, a hot tub and a bluff trail to the beach. Rates from $229-$299, including breakfast. 44781 Main St. 707-937-5150, www.oceanfrontmagic.com.

Eat: Dishes at the Ravens' Restaurant are based on locally harvested products — from seaweed to morels — and most produce is from regional organic growers or the Inn's California Certified Organic Farm. Wines are produced from certified organic vineyards. Small plates $8-$14; $19-$25 entrees. 44850 Comptche Ukiah Road, Mendocino. 707-937-5615, www.stanfordinn.com.

Experience: Ride the Skunk Train, a 40-mile, four-hour round-trip run through redwood forests, mountain meadows, and over 30 trestles bridging pristine mountain waters. Starting in Fort Bragg (10 miles north of Mendocino), the route snakes along the Noyo River and climbs the eastern slope of the California Coast Range before descending into the Noyo River Canyon. $49 adults. 100 W. Laurel St., Fort Bragg. 707-964-6371, www.skunktrain.com. Go tidepooling or discover treasures at Glass Beach at MacKerricher State Park. The park and the Ten Mile Beach Trail offer a variety of habitats from beach, bluff, headland (watch for whales), dune, forest and wetland. Glass Beach is one of the most unique beaches in the world. Years of pounding waves deposited tons of polished glass onto the beach. 24100 MacKerricher Park Road, Fort Bragg. 707-937-5804, www.parks.ca.gov.


Stay: Romantic Brewery Gulch Inn is perched on a hillside overlooking Smuggler's Cove and constructed with 150-year-old eco-salvaged, virgin redwood timbers pulled from the mud of Big River. Spacious, Zen-like-style guest rooms feature leather club chairs by a gas fireplace, down comforters, feather beds, Italian linens, robes, fresh flowers and private deck or balcony. Bathrooms have either a Jacuzzi or soaking tub for two. Rates from $245-$475, including gourmet cooked-to-order breakfast and an evening wine hour with a light dinner buffet. 9401 N. Highway 1. 707-937-4752, www.brewerygulchinn.com.

Eat: Dining at the MacCallum House Restaurant & Grey Whale Bar is intimate with seating inside by a stone fireplace or in a glass-enclosed porch with Pacific views. A limited menu features generous portions and an extensive wine list. Small plates $9-$16; entrees $26-$42; $95 for a five-course tasting menu ($135 with wine pairings). 45020 Albion St., Mendocino. 707-937-0289, www.maccallumhouse.com.

Experience: Take a stroll through 47-acre Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. From November through January, winter heathers, camellias and wild mushrooms thrive. The natural areas of the garden harbor six different rare and endangered plants. $14. 18220 N. Highway 1, Fort Bragg, 707-964-4352, www.gardenbythesea.org. Ricochet Ridge Ranch, across from MacKerricher State Park in Fort Bragg, offers English and Western trail rides daily on Ten Mile Beach across cattle ranches and through majestic redwood forests. The 90-minute ride is $50. 24201 N. Highway 1. 1-888-873-5777, www.horse-vacation.com.