November-through-April showers bring May flowers, but there’s no reason you should wait to visit. Spend the rainy season with us and storm-watch from these locations and landmarks.
Have you ever sensed a change in the air, that electrifying shift that precedes a downpour? Taken a breath of ocean air saturated with rain? Heard the sound of the roaring waves dampen as the fog rolls in? Welcomed the first drops of a spring storm? Here on the coast, you can do all of the above.
For meteorology buffs and other fans of inclement weather, the Mendocino Coast offers the perfect opportunity to experience the exhilarating rush of incoming storms from a safe distance—unless you want to be in the thick of things. Whatever your storm-watching style, Fort Bragg has great options for you.
Situated atop the hill overlooking Noyo Harbor, the Noyo Harbor Inn has one of the best vantage points in town to watch storms brewing. Settle in and enjoy the show as nature reveals its power. From your luxurious accommodations, take in the tumultuous waves, the rising mists, and the dancing raindrops. Noyo Harbor Inn also has a fabulous restaurant and beautiful grounds. This romantic inn is perfect for couples looking for a relaxing getaway.
The North Cliff Hotel, perched on the cliff on the northwest side of the Noyo River Bridge, offers comfortable rooms that feature spectacular panoramic views of the ocean. Step out onto your balcony or bask in the cozy warmth of your room’s gas fireplace as the wind howls and the waves crash into the rocks below. When you’re ready to wind down, wrap yourself in one of the plush hotel robes and sit beside the toasty fire or sink into your welcoming bed. In the morning, wake up to a beautiful ocean view and then enjoy a hot breakfast.
Just a stone’s throw from North Cliff, the rustic Harbor Lite Lodge offers view rooms with covered balconies—perfect for storm watching while staying dry—facing south where the Noyo River winds inland from the harbor. They also provide boat parking and run frequent specials.
Just steps from Pudding Creek Beach, the Old Haul Road, the trestle bridge, and the bluffs, the Beachcomber Motel is ideally located for your coastal adventures. When the clouds turn ominous and the wind picks up, you’ll be ready. Either kick back in your room or brave the outdoors for the full storm-watching experience. Outside, you’ll find the Captain’s Deck, a second-story viewing platform with ample seating, as well as the Mate’s Deck, a sunken deck where you can make s’mores over a roaring fire pit. The Beachcomber is ideal for couples, families, and friends—and pet-friendly rooms are available.
A short walk from the Beachcomber, rooms at the Ocean View Lodge open onto the coastal trail. You’ve found your refuge at the aptly-named Ocean View Lodge, where you can watch the storms pass by from the comfort of your room, which features vaulted ceilings and great amenities, including free wifi, a refrigerator, and cable TV. You’ll have everything you need to weather the storm!
Restaurants with a View
Spend your rainy afternoon in the comfort of a waterfront restaurant with a view. Silvers at the Wharf and Noyo River Grill both offer fabulous views of Noyo Harbor Fishing Village in upscale dining rooms, where you can dine on fresh seafood while watching the bustle of the harbor.
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse
See the storm the way generations of lightkeepers have—from the historic and picturesque Point Cabrillo Light Station. The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse was first illuminated on June 10, 1909, and since then, it has helped guide many a sailor to safe harbor in a storm. Wander the trails along the bluffs and look for the flash of the beacon as it rotates high above you. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view and an amazing experience. (A few of the lightkeeper houses have been restored and are now available as vacation rentals.)
MacKerricher State Park & Coastal Trail
MacKerricher State Park is one of the best spots to explore on a rainy day. The boardwalk trail is level and weather-resistant, so outdoor aficionados of all skill levels can walk it without fear of losing their footing. At the end of the trail, you’ll find a promontory with an awe-inspiring 360-degree view, perfect for watching the rain droplets cascade into crashing waves. From the boardwalk parking lot, you can also access the pedestrian Old Haul Road, which will take you south along the coastal trail toward Pudding Creek Beach and the trestle bridge.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
This 47-acre paradise of coastal flora sits atop a cliff facing the Pacific, and on rainy days they hand out umbrellas to visitors. Load up your thermos with hot chocolate, grab an umbrella and take a walk toward the ocean—there’s a covered hut near the cliff’s edge where you can bask in the gorgeous ambience of the rain and watch the ocean ebb and flow.