Try a secret getaway in Gualala
What’s one sure way to enjoy a breather from town and all the usual suspects? Head to a place you’ve never heard of before. Better yet, head to a place you can’t even pronounce upon first (or second) try. When you want to trade in Santa Cruz’s bustling beaches for an untouched oceanfront view, and you want an alternative to the usual Big Sur minimalist camping trip, it pays to venture into the unknown.
The “lost jewel in the crown” of Mendocino County, Gualala (say it aloud as “wa-LA-la”) churned out one surprise retreat when I recently made my way to the North Coast Country Inn located in the more remote part of the Pacific Coast Highway. How remote? Gualala hosts a population less than 2,000, lies just below Point Arena on the map, and is about four hours from Santa Cruz. Most people are used to taking Highway 128 to drive around it, missing this pristine spot off the beaten track.
If you’re in search of busy days with wine tasting, shopping and schmoozing, better to move on and keep looking. If you’re on the hunt for a pampering place to relax, recharge, or get romantic, you’ve hit the jackpot. With the tiny town being named after the Pomo Indian word for “where water meets,” because it sits where a river and the ocean collide, Gualala fittingly offers a perfect place to replenish the creative well.
Simply put, at North Coast Country Inn you can rediscover quiet sanity in a bohemian escape steps from the ocean.
A welcoming host, the bed and breakfast’s owner, Sandy, greeted me upon arrival (after I rang the grand bronze tower bell in lieu of a doorbell), and I was soon situated in one of six delicious rooms on the premises. A bottle of local white wine from Husch Vineyards and Lindt chocolates invited me into my “Southwind” room with a truly expansive view. A king-sized bed beckoned me, country-meets-sailor décor proved classy and comfy, a bathtub with spa jets whispered menacingly for my company, and a gas fireplace instantly appeased the winter chill.
A few miles north of the actual Gualala town center, the inn provides everything to keep you from needing to leave if you don’t want to. Still, it’s close enough to art hubs (south) and the Point Arena lighthouse (north) for touring. Each room has its own private deck, a mini-fridge, there’s an outdoor hot tub and gazebo area (perfect for weddings or yoga retreats), and, of course, there are the self-serve breakfasts: warm omelets oozing cheese and ham, avocado-topped quiche, fresh strawberries, cereal with yogurt, chocolate-filled croissants, local Thanksgiving coffee, juice and more. Each morning Sandy cooked up a different stunning array of food to keep guests guessing.
If you’re seeking privacy, you got it. The North Coast Country Inn isn’t about to go and feed your high-tech addict, either. No wi-fi, no television, and no DVDs means one thing: quality time in the here and now. In place of texting, your hands will be busy putting together an old-fashioned puzzle, moving chess pieces, or reading any of the many books in each room’s vast library (and if you find a read you like, Sandy says you can take it home with you). Or you can simply gaze through a web of redwood trees out into the unspoiled surroundings and, yes, starry skies.
North Coast Country Inn is currently offering two specials: book two nights and get the second night 50 percent off; book three nights and get the third night free. Rates start at $195 per night. For more information, call Sandy at 707-884-4537 or go to northcoastcountryinn.com.
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