Bay Area life seems to require camping—it really is the best way to get fully immersed in the natural beauty.
But for those of us who are a little more Grant Avenue than Green Acres—who prefer a comfy bed to a blowup mattress and a shower in lieu of a chilly stream—modern glamping options abound, including this lovely new spot just south of downtown Mendocino.
Opened last year by couple Chris Hougie and Teresa Raffo—founders of the popular Wine Country marketplace Cornerstone Sonoma—Mendocino Grove is a rustic-chic glampsite just off Highway 1 that promises all the tree-hugging you can handle but with ample creature comforts.
Here 60 safari-style canvas tents are organized into eight "neighborhoods" (we bunked for the weekend in the "Point Arena" 'hood), and each is kitted out with modern, blonde wood furnishings, queen beds—each dressed in cotton linens, wool blankets, and warm down comforters for cool Mendo nights—lanterns, and private redwood decks with leather butterfly chairs for lounging. WiFi, electricity, and family-size tents are also among the amenities.
Once you're all settled in, you can cook up some dinner at one of several gas barbecue stations; all the cook- and dinnerware you might need can be rented for $75 per couple should you be too lazy to pack your own. Real divas can find dinner in town at Trillium Cafe, which serves quality California cuisine and local wines. Whichever adventure you choose, you'll want to cap the night with a glass of something good to pair with that most ritual camping treat: s'mores around the campfire.
Come morning, wake up with complimentary coffee and breakfast of fresh fruits, yogurt, and pastries; then grab a hot shower in the perfectly lovely, subway-tiled bathhouse stocked with organic bath products and fresh towels.
The surrounding redwood forests, coastal bluffs, beaches, and meadows provide plenty to do during the day for both you and Fido (this place is so pet-friendly, they even have a dog washing station!). On weekend mornings, gentle yoga classes are available for $10 at the Meadow Common, which also serves as the community hub with games including bocce and corn hole. Down at Big River, you can rent kayaks and canoes. And of course there are hikes—literally hundreds of them.
To get acquainted with the area, we joined a 45-minute hike lead by resident naturalist John, who revealed to us all the deep history of the local flora, before heading out on our own to the easy Spring Ranch trail, which follows the coastline and opens onto to a field full of wildflowers in spring. (You could also drive about six miles north to Jug Handle State Natural Reserve and take the 2.5-mile Ecological Staircase trail that covers varying micro-ecosystems.)
At the end of the day, there's nothing left to do but bask in the gorgeous quiet of the forest from your private deck—and that is all good with us.
// Mendocino Grove is open May 10 through Oct. 31st; tents start at $125/night (plus $20/night for dogs with a $150 refundable deposit); mendocinogrove.com.