Mendocino County is one of the best spots in the world for whale watching because of the unique shape of the coastline. Visitors can observe whales from the shoreline, while pods nestle in Mendocino’s tame coves to feed their young and rest.
Of course whale watching boat excursions are plentiful, along with special “Whale” packages at Mendocino’s many welcoming accommodations — and March and April bring four separate whale festivals, including the brand new Little River Whale Festival!
Watch the whales from the balcony (or hot tub) of your hotel, from a scenic picnic spot on the Mendocino Headlands, from the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens or Pomo Bluffs Park in Fort Bragg, from the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse or the Stornetta Ranch Preserve in Point Arena, or while attending any of the fabulous festivals below.
March 6 & 7, 2010 – Mendocino Village Whale Festival
If you like whales and wine (although maybe not necessarily in that order), then this, the 28th Annual Mendocino Whale Festival, is for you! On Saturday, some of Mendocino’s top chefs serve up their takes on New England clam chowder, followed by Mendocino County wineries pouring their unique vintages for tasting at historic Mendocino Village shops, galleries and inns. On Saturday and Sunday, a free trolley offers rides to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, which will offer activities for the whole family, including games for kids, whale watching, and information on the shipwreck Frolic, the 1909 Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and the annual gray whale migration.
www.mendowhale.com or (707) 961-6300
March 13 & 14, 2010- Little River Whale Festival – Brand new!
“A Taste of Little River” is what visitors are promised during this festive weekend, the 1st EVER Little River Whale Festival! Savor bites from the kitchens of the town’s noted chefs, sip on award-winning Mendocino wines, get your “Passport” stamped for a chance to win a fabulous prize, attend a whale photography workshop or an informational fireside chat, and best of all, stay 2 nights at any Little River lodging property and receive the 3rd FREE! Says Cally Dym, owner of Little River Inn and organizer of the Little River Inn Whale Festival, “The entire Little River community is looking forward to showcasing our local chefs and artists, our amazing inns and b&bs, our area’s dramatic natural beauty, and of course, the whales. We’re even launching our own Little River Museum during the festival, and visitors can stop in to the new location at any point over the weekend and learn about the unique history of Little River.”
www.mendowhale.com or (707) 961-6300
March 20 & 21, 2010- Fort Bragg Whale Festival
Regional microbreweries come to town, offering their best pilsners, stouts and ales for tasting at historic Eagle’s Hall. Other events include arts & crafts fair, chowder tasting, art exhibits and guided whale walks at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and MacKerricher State Park (check out the rare, reconstructed gray whale skeleton, on permanent display near the visitor center). Hop aboard a whale watching boat tour on the sea out of Noyo Harbor. Also that weekend, the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse offers great activities for the whole family, including information on the migration of our gentle giants of the Pacific.
www.mendowhale.com or (707) 961-6300
April 1 – April 18, 2010 – Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festival
The South Coast of Mendocino County offers up wine tasting, smooth jazz, a chowder challenge, educational lectures – and of course daily whale watching at the historic Point Arena Lighthouse. Don’t miss out on the Gualala Arts Center’s tribute to the gentle giants – and this festival is unique in that it takes place over 3 spectacular weekends.
www.gualalaarts.org/Festivals/2010WhaleJazz.html or (707) 884-1138
Looking for something a little more adventurous? Hop aboard a whale-watching cruise!
All Aboard Adventures
Providing family fun aboard the SEAHAWK. Enjoy whale watching, sport fishing for crabs and salmon. Captain Tim is a seasoned charter boat professional who has worked out of Noyo Harbor for over 29 years. www.allaboardadventures.com or (707) 964-1881
Noyo Fishing & Whale Watching
Board the Rumblefish, for fishing adventures, whale watching or cruising to Mendocino Village. Located in the picturesque Noyo Harbor.
www.fortbraggfishing.com or (707) 964-3000
Celebrate the gentle giants with a whale of a feast:
On Friday, March 19th, enjoy Goldeneye and Duckhorn’s delightful wines paired with a five-course dinner created by Silver Canul, Executive Chef and Co-owner of Silver’s at the Wharf Restaurant and Lounge in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor. $125 per person (includes tax and gratuity). Spend the night in one of the Wharf’s water-front rooms for a whale festival special price of $75 plus tax.
www.silversatthewharf.com/whalefestduckdin10.htm or (707) 964-5049
And, as always, there are special “whale” packages on offer at the following lodging establishments:
Elk Cove Inn – Elk, CA
Boasting one of the most spectacular views on the Mendocino coast, the Elk Cove Inn is nestled in peaceful seclusion atop a bluff overlooking a mile of dramatic beachfront. Built in 1883, it was one of the first b&bs on the Mendocino Coast. Book 2 nights at low winter rates in any ocean view room and receive 50% off every night thereafter. The garden view rooms will be 25% off after the second night. Valid through March 31, 2010. Weekends included. www.elkcoveinn.com or (800) 275-2967
Point Arena Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters – Point Arena, CA
This historic inn is one of the best places on the coast for whale watching. And through the end of March, rent two nights and get the third night free. Features four keeper homes & one keeper’s room, just steps away from the Point Arena Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses on the Pacific Coast
www.pointarenalighthouse.com or (877) 725-4448
Whale Watch Inn – Gualala, CA
Whale watching is possible from ANY guest room at the Whale Watch Inn during the migration of these gentle giants.
Mother whales and calves may even linger in Anchor Bay, located right next to the Whale Watch Inn. Stay during the month of March or April, capture a photo of a migrating whale, and submit it to the Whale Watch Inn’s Photo Contest for a chance to win a free 2-night stay and have your picture posted on the WWI website.
www.whalewatchinn.com or (800) 942-5342
Baechtel Creek Inn & Spa – Willits, CA
In route to the Northern Mendocino Coast to see the whales? The Baechtel Creek Inn is the perfect stop over to make your journey more relaxing. 15% off regular room rates. Book a “Coast Medley Massage” – which incorporates deep tissue with Swedish massage – and receive 15% off your treatment. Must mention “Whale of a Deal!”
www.baechtelcreekinn.com or (800) 459-9911
Alegria Oceanfront Inn & Cottages – Mendocino Village, CA
200 steps from the beach and home to award-winning gardens. Weekends: Stay one night, get $50 off your second night. Weekdays: Stay one night, get $100 off your 2nd and 3rd night(s). Last minute walk-ins: Take a chance and walk in on the day you’d like to stay after 6 p.m. and receive $100 off any oceanside room that is still available (breakfast not included). At the new Raku House Inn across the street any available room will be $89, breakfast not included.
www.oceanfrontmagic.com or (800) 780-7905
MacCallum House – Mendocino Village, CA
This quintessential b&b in the heart of Mendocino Village is offering 25% off any stay of 2-nights or more in March and April. Includes “On The House” tokens ($14 daily) to spend in the Grey Whale Bar, caf or restaurant and gourmet breakfasts each morning. Enjoy a 2-hour whale-watching boat excursion at discounted rates.
www.maccallumhouse.com or (800) 609-0492