Secluded, Four Diamond–Rated Boutique Resort in California Wine Country
Stevenswood Spa Resort is hidden deep within a redwood forest on a sprawling 12-acre estate along the Mendocino Coast. The towering trees establish a sense of tranquility, adding a nice counterpoint to the bed and breakfast's modern architecture. There is no cell-phone service and not a traffic light in sight, encouraging guests to curl up and read books or lounge in one of the mineral-infused spas tucked into the woods. Amid this secluded setting, Stevenswood Spa Resort boasts a Zagat-rated restaurant and an eco-friendly spa—luxuries that have earned it the AAA Four Diamond Award for the past 21 years.
Stevenswood’s spacious, contemporary suites have plasma TVs and wood-burning fireplaces. When you want to see the great outdoor scenery, simply follow the nearby trail—it leads right to the ocean. Back at the resort, you can unwind in Indigo Eco-Spa’s whirlpools or infrared sauna.
The resort is also a cofounder of the Mendocino 100-Mile Initiative, an organization committed to sourcing locally, and the 14-table Restaurant at Stevenswood, which uses organic, sustainable ingredients and is open every day except Wednesday. Diners can select pairings from an impressive collection of California wines. The hotel's SoHo-style wine bar—which contains the copper-top bar from the set of the movie Rent—hosts complimentary tastings of the lodge's private-label olive oils. Additionally, guests will receive champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries or evening hors d'oeuvres, depending on the restaurant's availability.
Mendocino Coast, California: Small Towns Along Scenic Oceanfront and Redwood Forests
Located about three hours north of San Francisco, Northern California’s Mendocino Coast is a region filled with tiny towns, art colonies, and varied terrain. Within a few minutes of one another are sunlit valleys, fertile vineyards, rocky headlands blanketed by fog, and serene forests of old-growth redwoods. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens showcase the area’s geographical diversity through its native rhododendrons, prickly succulents, and colorful blooms stretching to the ocean.
Partially because of its scenic land and sea scapes, the coast is popular with painters, who gather in artists' collectives such as the Mendocino Art Center. To see the land that inspires local artwork, head to Russian Gulch, Mendocino Headlands, or any of the region’s coastal state parks. At Mendocino Headlands State Park, waves crash into carving arches, grottos, and stony bluffs, while MacKerricher State Park north of Fort Bragg contains dramatic sand dunes.
Although normally quiet, the region comes alive during a series of whale festivals every March and April, when California gray whales pass by the coast as they migrate from Mexico to Alaska. You'll find one of the best vantage points for whale watching at Point Cabrillo Light Station, a lonely lighthouse first lit in 1909.