Albion, CA
The ocean view from our vacation rental in Albion, CA

We survived our first long drive of the trip.  The drive from Tahoe to Albion was long and winding, but was well worth it when we finally took in this amazing coastline.  Our vacation rental is in a small housing development perched on a cliff overlooking the sea.  The neighbors are set back so it feels like our little house has the meadow to itself.  Deer are grazing in our yard and seagulls are perched on our deck.  It’s breathtaking!

Fort Bragg

We drove up the coast to Fort Bragg to shop and have lunch.  We decided to eat at a little fish and chips shack on the harbor.  The Sea Pal Cove is a small funky place surrounded by fishing boats.  It has a bit of an odor from the fishermen cleaning their daily catch but the fish couldn’t be fresher.  The seagulls attempted to steal Rich’s Salmon a couple of times.  But the best part of lunch was when a large sea lion plopped itself in the water next to the deck that wewere sitting on.  It barked at us for a few minutes and then swam under the pier.  The boys also fell in love with a series of wharf cats.

The Sea Pal Cove Restaurant in Fort Bragg, CA
The Sea Pal Cove Restaurant in Fort Bragg, CA

A trip to Bowling Ball Beach

One day, we decided to check out a beach that my friend Laura recommended.  Schooner Gulch, also known as Bowling Ball Beach, is located 3 miles south of Point Arena.  The beach was hard to find but so worth the trouble of getting there.  It’s beautiful!

Beach Hopping

Another day, we decided to check out Glass Beach in Fort Bragg.  From 1949 until 1967 this beach was the city dump.  Over the years the ocean has rounded the discarded glass and formed a beach of soft glass pebbles.  We were very excited to see it and were very let down.  The beach was over run with people and their trash.  Not the beautiful 1949 kind.  Cigarettes, soda bottles and bags of chips.  It was very sad.  Although the beach is part of a state park, and it is against the rules to take the glass, it seems that everyone is there taking the glass anyway.  We met a nice guy named Wayne later in the day who lives in Mendocino, and he said it used to be “10 feet deep”.

Sea Lion in Fort Bragg, CA
Sea Lion in Fort Bragg

We restored our energy with a quick stop for fish and chips and then traveled South looking for a beach.  The next stop was Jug Head, which had some quite ominous warning signs for dangerous waves.  Really scary stuff: don’t walk on the cliffs or your will fall and die, don’t get near the ocean or a big wave will sweep you out to sea, and DEFINITELY do not walk on the beach, or you will get swept out to sea and DIE.  Umkay.  So… we kept searching.

Albion, Mendocino Coast, California
Taking in the sights of Albion

We finally found Big River Beach, which was perfect.  The beach is where the Big River meets the sea and the sand is soft and the water shallow but with good waves for jumping.  The boys loved the water (which was freezing) and the sand, which was perfect for building.  We met a nice family who were vacationing from New York.  They gave us some advice on fun things to do in the city.

It was a perfect last day in Mendocino and we all agreed that we should return next year.  But next time we will bring wet suits!

Tomorrow we head back to Walnut Creek for some last minute preparations.  We are so excited to begin our adventure this Thursday. Next stop is New York City!

Sunset over the Pacific in Albion, CA, on the Mendocino Coast


  1. This is one of the most under-rated areas of the California coast. I always feel like we could spend a few weeks here but it’s only just a few days. Love it.

  2. This is a lovely place. Loved your picture of the sunset. The sea lion emerging from the sea and barking and then disappearing into the water, was so endearing.

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