August 29, 2014

Fort Bragg: Sea Glass Museum & Jewelry Gallery + Glass Beach;; things to do


1 North

Sea Glass Museum & Jewelry Gallery  17801 N. Hwy. 1, just S of botanical gardens, (707) 962-0590.  Daily 10-5.  Free.

Sea Glass Museum in Fort Bragg, California
This little glass shack is the world’s first and only sea glass museum.


sea glass jewelery at Sea Glass Museum in Fort Bragg, California
A large collection is on display, along with some handcrafted jewelry and art items that are available for purchase, and the attendant is helpful in answering questions and directing you to local glass beaches.

Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
Glass Beach  On N end of town, turn W on Elm St., drive a few blocks to Glass Beach Dr. and park in the dirt edges, then walk west along the path to the beach.  In the southern end of MacKerricher State Park.  Ask for precise directions when in town.

sea glass at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
Many years ago this was a dump site, but now it is a beach sprinkled with bits of sparkling glass and pottery that have been smoothed by the ocean into jewels.  Unfortunately for visitors, it is now prohibited to remove glass in certain areas, and all that is left is really small pieces compared to what was found just 20 years ago.

wildlife at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
anyone know what this is?


More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 27, 2014

Fort Bragg: Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens; things to do


1 North 

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens  18220 N. Hwy. 1, 2 mi. S of town, (707) 964-4352.  Daily 9-5; Nov-Feb 9-4.  $14, 65+ $10, 5-17 $5.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California
A self-guided tour leads through 47 acres of flowering plants scattered along delightful trails that lead all the way to the ocean.


dahlia garden at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California
Known for its rhododendrons, fuchsias, dahlias, and heathers, this garden also boasts a major collection of succulents, camellias, and old heritage roses. The nursery sells unusual perennials, and a cafe and picnic tables are available.


More things to do in Fort Bragg.

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 25, 2014

Little River: Heritage House; hotel review + restaurant review


1 North 

The Heritage House Resort  5200 N. Hwy. 1, in Little River, 4 mi. S of town, (877) 295-9973, (707) 202-9000.  46 rooms; $$-$$$+.  All gas fireplaces.  Fitness room.  Restaurant; dinner room service.  Pets ok.

Same Time & Next Year units at The Heritage House Resort near Mendocino in Little River, California

Opened originally in 1949, this hotel became particularly famous when it co-starred in the film “Same Time, Next Year.”  The unit the movie was filmed in is now divided into two popular rooms called “Same Time” and “Next Year.”  The ranch house and Smuggler's Cove below have a colorful history of harboring rum runners, slave traders, and criminal "Baby Face" Nelson.  Recently closed for about 10 years, a new owner plans to keep the property similar to what past guests have come to love.  The rooms are divided among 11 buildings scattered on 37 acres atop steep bluffs.  All are updated to a contemporary style and have large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with an ocean view as well as a wide private deck with Adirondack chairs.  Linens are Frette, and this place really gets it right—almost all the beds face the view full on.  Nights are super quiet.  Bathrooms have heated slate floors and rainfall showers, and 11 rooms have deep soaking tubs and his-and-hers sinks.  All rooms are within strolling distance of the main house, dating from 1877, where the lounge and restaurant are positioned.  Golf carts are available to pick up guests by request.  A small two-story spa adjacent to the main lodge is nearing completion; meanwhile, massage can be scheduled in room.  A fitness room with floor-to-ceiling windows on three walls is also near to the main lodge.  Trails crisscross the property, and there is beach access, though the stairs that can be a little treacherous.


Lounge bar at The Heritage House Resort near Mendocino in Little River, California

When we first arrived, we bee-lined to the Lounge area to relax on the comfy couches with a drink and enjoy the spectacular view.  I had a killer spicy Bloody Mary with a salad on top—celery, cucumber, olive, onion.  It was even better than the really good one I remember from another visit here long ago.  Don’t miss it.  Board games are also available here.  Fine dining occurs in the ocean-view 5200 Restaurant, and non-guests are welcome.  The high-up dining room gave me the delightful impression of being in a grand tree house.


French toast at 5200 Restaurant at The Heritage House Resort near Mendocino in Little River, California

Breakfast is basic, with housemade granola, oatmeal, omelettes, and a tasty broiche French toast.  Dinner is more elaborate and offers a sophisticated menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, wines, and beers.  We started with a tasty Heirloom Tomato Stack made tall with mozzarella layers.  I followed this with a lovely pan-seared, boned, and stuffed California trout with mushroom risotto, and my husband opted for Noyo Harbor salmon with parsnip and Yukon mash and Pinot Noir sauce.  We concluded with a shared sundae featuring poached peaches and fresh raspberries and a glass of Navarro Muscat Blanc.  Reservations advised for dinner.

5200 Restaurant & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 22, 2014

Jenner: Fort Ross Vineyard & Tasting Room; things to do


1 North

Fort Ross Vineyard & Tasting Room  15725 Meyers Grade Rd., 7 ½ miles north of town, (707) 847-3460.  Daily Mar-Dec 10-6; Thur-M Jan- Feb 11-5. 

To get to the tasting room for this winery, which has the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in California, you’ll need to drive 2.6 miles up the hill on Meyers Grade Road.  When you enter the gates, the road becomes packed-dirt and leads past Pinot Noir grapevines, a redwood forest, and a pond—giving you a quick tour of the terroir of the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA.  Owner Linda Schwartz says she “did a dance of happiness” when this AVA became one of the country’s newest on January 13, 2012.  The AVA is unique in its proximity to the ocean, and at 900- to 1,800-feet-high it is usually floating above a sea of clouds.


So far, it remains the first and only vineyard tasting room along the Sonoma Coast.  It is a surprise way out here to find the sleek contemporary tasting room, softened a bit with heirloom climbing roses and tall grasses in the tamed entrance garden.  The tasting room and deck with picnic tables share a beautiful pastoral view.  I enjoyed tasting a smooth, fruity, but also buttery 2012 Chardonnay followed by three very nice Pinot Noirs and then an inky-colored Pinotage--a tasty, rarely-seen-here varietal from South Africa.  All grapes are grown on the winery’s estate, and processing is done in Santa Rosa.  A charceuterie/cheese plate can be purchased to enhance your tasting or to enjoy outside on the picnic deck.


More things to do in Jenner.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image courtesy of venue

August 20, 2014

Duncans Mills: Shops; things to do


101 North 

DUNCANS MILLS  On Hwy. 116, 8 mi. W of Guerneville, 4 mi. E of ocean, (707) 865-2024.

cattle graze on the grassy hill behind the shops complex in Duncans Mills, California
cattle graze on the grassy hill behind the shops complex in Duncans Mills, California

Established as a Victorian sawmill village in 1874, this tiny rustic town—population 85 in 2006--is now home to a collection of eclectic shops, a general store with a deli, a restaurant, and a riverside campground with private beach.  Cattle graze on the peaceful adjacent hillside, and benches invite relaxing for a stretch, especially on a sunny day.  The scenic drive that gets you here from Guerneville rolls along the Russian River and through dark redwood forests.

Shops complex:
On the north side of Highway 116/River Road (more shops are found directly across the highway on the south side).
Each specialty shop operates inside a restored historic building.

exterior of Pigs Alley in shops complex in Duncans Mills, California
exterior of Pigs Alley in shops complex in Duncans Mills, California



Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers  (707) 865-9897.  W-M 11am-5pm.

display at Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers in shops complex in Duncans Mills, California
display at Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers in shops complex in Duncans Mills, California

This rustic log cabin greets your nose with a delicious aroma emanating from its house blend of potpourri.  Enjoy it while you browse the unusual antiques and curios, including some jewelry, that are incorporated into creative seasonal displays found throughout the shop.  Fresh flowers are available to go and are especially nice when arranged in a vintage vessel, and locally-grown living plants, blooming flowers, and plenty of succulents that are also for sale vie for your attention in the front garden.

front garden at Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers in Duncans Mills, California
front garden at Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers in Duncans Mills, California



Cetonia Bath & Body  (707) 243-8647.
All the fragrant soaps and lotions here are hand made on site.

interior of Cetonia Bath & Body in Duncans Mills, California
interior of Cetonia Bath & Body in Duncans Mills, California



Christopher Queen Galleries  (707) 865-1318.  W-M 11-5.
This gallery was one of the first to specialize in early and contemporary California art.  Most of the works are museum quality.  The first floor shows contemporary works, while the second floor displays Early California paintings dating from the 1860s to the 1940s.

display at Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, California
display at Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, California


interior of Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, California
interior of Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, California

Thistledown Antiques purveys the unusual in fine china, jewelry, and furnishings.

merchandise at Thistledown Antiques in Duncans Mills, California
merchandise at Thistledown Antiques in Duncans Mills, California



Duncans Mills General Store  25200 Hwy. 116/River Road, (707) 865-9564.  Daily 8am-8pm.

exterior of Duncans Mills General Store in Duncans Mills, California
exterior of Duncans Mills General Store in Duncans Mills, California

The creaky old wood floors in this old-fashioned general store make me feel like I’ve stepped back in time.  Though it is truly a “general” store--you can buy groceries and dry goods here--the main reason to stop in is to secure a big deli sandwich (my favorite is pastrami on sourdough).  Note that the pastrami, beef jerky, and smoked salmon are all house made and particularly tasty.  The beer selection is extensive, and they always have the locals favorite--Pliney.

board menu at Duncans Mills General Store in Duncans Mills, California
board menu at Duncans Mills General Store in Duncans Mills, California


salmon smoking at Duncans Mills General Store in Duncans Mills, California
salmon smoking at Duncans Mills General Store in Duncans Mills, California



Duncans Mills Tea Shop  (707) 865-9041.  M-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5.
Claiming to have the largest selection of vintage and new teapots in California, this tea-oriented shop nestled in a repurposed vintage cottage also has a plethora of accoutrements and sells a vast variety of tea in bulk.  It is such a disappointment that they don’t serve afternoon tea.  Some kitchen utensils are also purveyed.

interior of Duncans Mills Tea Shop in Duncans Mills, California
interior of Duncans Mills Tea Shop in Duncans Mills, California


nuns shopping for tea at Duncans Mills Tea Shop in Duncans Mills, California
nuns shopping for tea at Duncans Mills Tea Shop in Duncans Mills, California



Jim and Willie’s Antiques and Collectibles  (707) 865-9672.  Thur-M 11am-5pm. 
This teeny, tiny antique shop provides a great browse.

interior of Jim and Willie's Antiques and Collectibles in Duncans Mills, California
interior of Jim and Willie's Antiques and Collectibles in Duncans Mills, California



Pig Alley  (707) 865-2698. 
This small red-clapboard structure houses handcrafted artisan wares, clothing, and novelties for the home and garden.

busy shoppers at Duncans Mills shops in Duncans Mills, California
busy shoppers at Duncans Mills shops in Duncans Mills, California



Sophie’s Cellars  25179 Main St./Hwy 116.  Daily in summer 11am-5pm; shorter hours rest of year; happy hour F 4-7pm, $5/glass of wine+$5 hors d’oeuvres.
Stop into this sweet little cottage for a tasting paired with local cheeses and freshly baked breads.  Happy hour includes an hors d’oeuvres buffet.

exterior of Sophie's Cellars in Duncans Mills, California
exterior of Sophie's Cellars in Duncans Mills, California



Worldly Goods  (707) 865-3025.  Items found here include hammocks, folk art, sarongs, clothing, rustic furniture, and “whimsies” imported from around the world.

colorful hammocks at Worldly Goods in Duncans Mills, California
colorful hammocks at Worldly Goods in Duncans Mills, California



Restaurant:
Cape Fear Cafe  (707) 865-9246.  B-L-D, Sat-SunBr.  California cuisine is prepared here with a southern flair.  The large menu includes a good burger, Cajun items, and at Sunday brunch seven kinds of Benedict and a Hangtown fry.  Local beers and wines are served.

exterior of Cape Fear Cafe in Duncans Mills, California
exterior of Cape Fear Cafe in Duncans Mills, California


More things to do in nearby Guerneville.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
updated 7-9-19

August 18, 2014

Guerneville: Coffee Bazaar; restaurant review

interior of Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville, California
interior of Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville, California

101 North

Coffee Bazaar  14045 Armstrong Woods Rd., (707) 869-9706.

Located just around the corner from this town’s busy main street and particularly popular with locals, this mellow coffeehouse operates in a spacious room with a wall of wood banquettes facing copper-topped tables.  Breakfast is served all day, but the excellent pastries disappear early.  I enjoyed a simple BLT and an exhilarating coffee bon bon cookie made with espresso.

Coffee Bazaar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Twice Told Books, which specializes in used books, operates on the other side of an open doorway.

entrance to Twice Told Books from Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville, California
entrance to Twice Told Books from Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville, California



More things to do in Guerneville.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

imagec ©2014+2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
updated 7-19-19

August 15, 2014

Berkeley: Venus; restaurant review


80 North

Venus  2327 Shattuck Ave./Durant St., (510) 540-5950.  B-L M-F, D Thur-M, Sat-SunBr; $-$$.  No reservations.

interior of Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California

This very popular, very small restaurant has a cozy brick-walled dining room with a comfy banquette along one wall.  It is particularly busy for weekend brunch, and breakfast is served daily until 2:30pm.


eggs Benedict at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California

I enjoyed my Venus Benedict consisting of a housemade English muffin topped with sliced tomato, spinach, Hollandaise sauce, and two puffy poached eggs.  Though tasty, and served with home fries dabbed with sour cream, next time I will add flavor in the form of lox or ham.


biscuits and gravy at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California

I also have my eye on the biscuits and gravy, which received a good report from a dining companion.


Indian Brunch plate at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California

My husband feasted on the exotic Indian Brunch, which included colorful curried carrot-zucchini-parsnip pancakes, scrambled eggs akoori (with chiles, tomato, and cilantro), mango aioli, handmade chapati, and banana raita.  Lemon ricotta pancakes and stuffed French toast are also very popular.  The made-from-scratch hot chocolate is a delicious alternative if you are caffeined out.  I plan to come back for lunch to try the 14-hour Slow Roasted Cuban Pork Sandwich with gruyere, lettuce, sweet pickles, tomato and chipotle aioli, or maybe the fried egg sandwich with white cheddar and chipotle mayo.  The menu has many vegetarian options.

Venus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 13, 2014

Alameda: Pacific Pinball Museum; things to do


880 South

Pacific Pinball Museum 1510 Webster St./Haight Ave., 3 mi. from downtown, (510) 205-6959.  Tu-Thur 2-9pm, F 2pm-mid, Sat 11am-mid, Sun 11-9; closed M.  $15, under 17 $7.50.  No pets.

gallery at Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California

This non-profit hands-on museum attracts a variety of people.  Many like to view exhibits and learn more about these intriguing machines, but most also want to play.  Fortunately, admission includes unlimited play on more than 100 of the colorful machines that are spread through a warren of rooms.  Three jukeboxes are also on free play.  It can get noisy.




I toured the museum with founder Michael Schiess, and what a trip it was!  Here’s what I learned.  Though the idea of pinball started in France with rolling a ball up a hill, pinball machines are mostly an American thing.  The first pinball patent in the U.S. was in 1869.  The first coin-operated pinball machine, the Whiffle, came along in 1931.  The World’s Fair Jigsaw is the all-time best seller at almost 80,000; runner up is the newer “Adams Family,” at about 24,000.  When Oakland banned pinball in the 1930s as gambling, many of the machines found their way to Alameda where rules were more lax.  Flippers were added to the machines in 1947, and artwork became more important in the 1960s.  Between the 1950s and 1970s, pinball machines actually made more money than movies!


Captain Fantastic machine at Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California

The machines are still evolving, with TV screens added in 2000 and a “CSI” model added in 2008.  The museum’s collection now is at around 1,000, and the 900 that are warehoused are rotated in and out so you never know for sure what you will see.


More things to do in Alameda.

Things to do in nearby Oakland.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images and video ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 8, 2014

Alameda: Ole’s Waffle Shop; restaurant review


880 South 

Ole’s Waffle Shop  1507 Park St./Santa Clara Ave., downtown, (510) 522-8108.  B-L-D daily; $.  No reservations.

Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, California

Always packed, this old-fashioned diner has comfy booths and a long counter with swivel chairs.


deep-fried broasted chicken at Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, California

Breakfast is served all day--biscuits and gravy are on the menu--but many folks come here for the burgers, steaks, and deep-fried broasted chicken.  Jell-O, tapioca pudding, and fresh-squeezed OJ made by a machine that sits in the dining room are also available.  But be careful!  Order dessert with your meal.  I was disappointed early on a Sunday night to be told they were completely out of pie.

Ole's Waffle Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Alameda.

Things to do in nearby Oakland.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 6, 2014

Alameda: St. George Spirits; things to do


880 South 

St. George Spirits  2601 Monarch St., 4 mi. from downtown, (510) 769-1601.  Tasting on the hour, W-Sat 12-6, Sun 12-4; $15.  Tour+tasting W, Thur, & F at 5:30, Sat at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6, Sun at 1, 2, 3, & 4; $20.  Reservations advised.


exterior of St. George Spirits in Alameda, California

Located way out there, through a residential area and then past a plethora of boarded-up buildings on the former Alameda Naval Air Station, this distillery operates inside a huge repurposed hangar.  The tour is a must and prepares you for your tasting.


interior of St. George Spirits in Alameda, California

You’ll find out how copper stills work and learn that 30 pounds of pears is used in just one bottle of pear brandy!  I heard way more than I could drink in and digest.


absinthe ingredients at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California

I was most interested by the story about absinthe, which just became legal in the U.S. in 2007.  In fact, St. George Spirits was the first American company since 1912 to produce and sell absinthe in the U.S.


celebrity shark Bruce from "Deep Blue Sea" movie at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California

I also enjoyed meeting the celebrity shark Bruce, who ate Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J in the “Deep Blue Sea” movie.


tasting room at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California

After, we tasted five items, including Dry Rye Gin, a gin-whiskey love child; Terroir Gin, which tastes like a forest; and the celebrated olive-oil green Absinthe Verte, which is poured over ice and tastes of licorice.  Suffice it to say that you can get hammered even on the tiny tastes that are poured.  Drink the water provided.


More things to do in Alameda.

Things to do in nearby Oakland.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

August 4, 2014

Sonoma: Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages + Sonoma’s Best Market Cafe; hotel review + things to do


Wine Country

Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages 1190 East Napa St./Old Winery Rd., ((800) 291-8962, (707) 933-0340.  4 cottages.  All full kitchens. 

Built in 1935, these cottages are in a rural area about 8 blocks from Sonoma’s central plaza.  Three accommodate two people, and the fourth has a loft with two twin beds and accommodates four.  Kitchens are stocked with an assortment of local products to get you started, including a bag of Blue Bottle Coffee and a half-bottle of wine.  Each cottage has a patio with lounge chairs, a chiminea fireplace that burns real wood, and a gas barbecue, and each is individually decorated.


Spring Flowers cottage at Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages in Sonoma, California

Sweet little Spring Flowers has hardwood floors and sunflower-yellow walls hung with colorful original art.


rose boquet at Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages in Sonoma, California

When blooming, fragrant roses from the property’s rose garden add to the decor.  Bikes are available for loan. 


Sonoma’s Best Market Cafe in Sonoma, California

Sonoma’s Best Market Cafe  (707) 933-3000. 

This vintage store has been in business here since 1913.  The perfect stop for picnic supplies, it serves Blue Bottle Coffee and purveys some prepared food and many packaged local food products.  A wine-tasting room pours samplings of local vintages; the $5 tasting fee is donated to Pet Lifeline. 


More things to do in Sonoma.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers