Where ocean meets ranch meets forest meets enchantment in Fort Bragg, Calif.
By ATV, inn guests explore the redwood forest that is part of the 2,000-plus acre Newport Ranch. The forest was a source of timber in the mid-19th century. Today it is protected by the ranch owners.(Paul Boorstin)
Angus cattle graze freely in the pastures adjacent to the Inn at Newport Ranch.(Paul Boorstin)
Visitors ride horses on the beach at MacKerricher State Park, near Fort Bragg.(Paul Boorstin)
Guests gather for a three-course gourmet dinner at the Inn at Newport Ranch.(Paul Boorstin)
In MacKerricher State Park, visitors of all ages comb Glass Beach for nuggets of shimmery red, green and clear “sea glass.”(Paul Boorstin)
Breakfast is included with the price of a room at the Inn at Newport Ranch. The innkeeper is a trained chef.(Paul Boorstin)
On warm evenings, guests enjoy complimentary wine on the patio before dinner.(Paul Boorstin)
At the Inn at Newport Ranch, the Captain’s Quarters guest room features a décor evocative of a 19th century schooner.(Paul Boorstin)
The Inn at Newport Ranch sits on the rugged Mendocino coastline, a 20-minute drive north of Fort Bragg.(Paul Boorstin)
In the mid-19th century the land where the Inn at Newport Ranch sits was the site of Newport, a logging town that shipped redwood by schooner to San Francisco. Now, sustainably harvested redwood is a major feature of the inn.(Paul Boorstin)
The seven-room Inn at Newport Ranch has recently opened.(Paul Boorstin)
Crashing waves, rugged cliffs and redwood trees. California’s Mendocino Coast offers a striking contrast to the urban blandscape of Los Angeles. When I felt the urge to escape and I read about the recently opened seven-room Inn at Newport Ranch, 20 minutes north of Fort Bragg, I booked a stay. My husband, Paul, and I flew to Santa Rosa and drove three hours northwest, a long but scenic trip, and well worth it: The inn sits on a 2,000-acre cattle ranch that stretches from spectacular ocean cliffs to a forest where redwoods were logged in the 19th century. We were captivated by the setting, the craftsmanship of the whimsical “ranch-meets-forest” design and the hospitality of the innkeepers. The tab: $500 for two nights, with breakfast; $200 for other meals; $190 for horseback riding; $80 for an all-terrain-vehicle excursion, $306 for a rental car; plus taxes and airfare.
At the Inn at Newport Ranch [31502 N. Highway 1, Fort Bragg; (707) 962-4818, www.theinnatnewportranch.com], sustainably harvested redwood rules, from the furniture crafted by local artisans to the 24 tree trunks that anchor the three suites in the Redwood House. Our cozy room was the Chute, named for the metal contraption that carried logs from the cliffs to waiting schooners bound for San Francisco. I coveted the ship-like décor of the Captain’s Quarters room next door — until I saw the Birdhouse Suite, where a colossal redwood burl divides the living from the sleeping area. When I returned home, I wasn’t surprised to see the Inn at Newport Ranch listed among the best new hotels in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler.
Because we were so comfortable, we dined at the inn both evenings. No regrets. Innkeeper Creighton Smith, a Johnson & Wales-trained chef, prepared terrific organic salads, scampi and filet mignon; his apple crumble and bread pudding were killer.
The lesson learned
Our first day, Paul and I explored the inn’s 1½ miles of wind-swept ocean cliffs, spotting seals sunbathing on the rocks below. At dinner, another couple coaxed us to experience the property’s 20 miles of trails that head east, so the next day we joined an excursion in one of the inn’s ATVs. Our guide drove us through pastures where Angus cattle grazed up to a 900-foot peak. We stopped to admire the panoramic coastline view, then plunged into a shadowy forest. We were mesmerized as the ATV threaded through second-growth redwood trees and the moss-covered stumps of redwood behemoths felled 150 years ago.
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