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Mendo Lake Family Life

Beach Bliss

When it comes to summer diversion, you can’t beat the Mendocino County coast. Lined with dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches, it is the perfect stay-cation destination. Here are a few spots that we think are particularly beautiful, as well as kid-friendly. You can even bring your dogs; just keep them on leashes no more than six feet long. So put on the sunscreen and hats, pack plenty of water and snacks, and get ready for a day of surf and sun.

Note: Never turn your back to the ocean. Sleeper waves can happen in any weather condition.

Navarro River State Park Beach This little patch of surf rolls out the red carpet for its visitors: As you travel along the rolling hills of Anderson Valley, you’ll suddenly encounter an 11-mile tunnel of second-growth redwoods. Take it to the beach, which is near the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 128. There you’ll find the historic Captain Fletcher’s Inn, which used to host sailors from lumber schooners. It is closed to the public, but it may one day be turned into a visitors’ center. (Go to for restoration information as well as detailed directions to the beach.) Porta-potties are in the parking lot, which is close to the beach. See

Jughandle State Park Beach This majestic cove has a reputation for being one of Fort Bragg’s warmest beaches during the summer, with fog burning off by midday and temperatures rising into the 50s and 60s. The park itself features the 2.5-mile Ecological Staircase Trail, which travels through three terraces, each with its own unique habitat—from bishop pines to prairie to coast. The trail includes a walk through a rare pygmy forest, where soil acidity has stunted the growth of the trees. Both the beach and trail are easily accessible from the parking lot, at which there is a porta-potty. Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach but not on the trail. There is no day-use fee. See

Manchester State Park Beach Several miles long, this piece of heaven in Manchester is great for long strolls. And kids will enjoy exploring the shelters made from the copious amounts of driftwood that lands there. Perhaps they’ll even be inspired to create their own structures. (Search on “how to make driftwood shelters” on for ideas.) Besides driftwood, there is also excellent steelhead fishing in the park’s Brush Creek and Alder Creek. The beach is accessible from the parking lot, where there are porta-potties. There is no day-use fee. See