These misty mornings on the Northern California coast feel like a dream. When dark little eyes of curious seals pop up from the water, a clear pane of glass to the mysteries below. Spouts go off in a symphony in the distance, and birds glide above and float in the calm waves. The jagged rocks, golden spires carved by the ocean, reveal themselves then hide again as the mist moves in and out. It’s like we’re on a movie set, if only movies were perfect. But to me, the Lost Coast is. There’s a reason why I’ve returned 6 times.
California might be known for movie stars and the Golden Gate Bridge, but there’s a quiet place, home to coast redwood trees (who chose their spot wisely, IMO) a few hours north of San Francisco. There’s a quietness to it that I find seductive. It’s where some of my fondest memories live.
This summer I went back to the area, but this time to a new place called Newport Ranch, just north of Fort Bragg. The Inn at Newport Ranch seemed perfect for a girlfriend getaway, and it was, but I realized when I was there that it would be truly perfect for a romantic weekend getaway, too. I don’t think it gets better in terms of an escape for two, away from people, crowds, traffic, and worries.
The Inn at Newport Ranch is situated on 2000 acres right on the coast. They have 20 miles of coastal trails, redwood trails, and ample panoramic views. History buffs will love it, too, for its wealth of California history.
It’s the kind of place where you’ll see plenty of seals, birds, maybe whales, and certainly cows (there are bears and deer too, but they’re good at hiding), and maybe only a few other people all day. As our local guide, Otis, said, “If I pull up to a beach and there’s anyone else there, I just pick another one.” You rarely have to share.
How lovely to find places where overtourism doesn’t exist.
I was so in love with the rooms, too, which featured rows of redwood trees inside, worked into the architecture.
It’s clear that whoever designed these rooms had the perfect mix of the history, landscape, and modern luxury in mind.
We were in the Newport suite, which had a huge bathroom with a walk-in shower, a sitting area, its own full kitchen, a fireplace, and its own hut tub with a view of the, honestly perfect, organic garden and ocean. The hut tub was situated in such a way that it’s mostly hidden from view, and you have your own patio as well. It was a magical home away from home that felt modern and yet took us back in time.
My highlight was the ATV tour we did with Otis, who has grown up and lived near this ranch for most (maybe all?), of his life. He took us all along the coast to point out the perfect spots for us to have a picnic lunch and walk out along a huge rock bridge that went out into the sea. His knowledge of the history of the area was incredible. As we would find out when we headed into the redwood forest, so was his knowledge of the fauna.
As the tour progressed we all got more and more enthusiastic about the area and like sponges, soaked up all we could learn from Otis about the trees, the mushrooms that grew in the area — we even foraged for oyster mushrooms — the logging history, and the ways that the area is being preserved today. Next year, Otis plans to plant 2000 new redwood trees, an impressive feat considering there are already so many thriving in the forest.
The tour culminated with a stop at the organic garden, which was a colorful, delicious menagerie of edible flowers, several types of kale, all kinds of squash, artichokes, strawberries, and so much more I’m surely forgetting.
The garden is open to guests, and is designed like a maze to keep you exploring. We loved it so much we went back three times!
Following the tour, it was perfect to wander along the coastal trails and marvel at the bright starfish clinging to the rocks, the abundance of mussels, sea plants, and of course, the curious seals. I couldn’t believe how clear and blue the water was there. It’s not the murky California I thought I knew. This was as clear as the Caribbean.
I could just imagine going back with a significant other. There was nobody else around – just us exploring, marveling, and enjoying.
Though we loved the organic garden and having our own kitchen, the food at the Inn was fantastic, as was the service. Each night there are happy hour drinks (and even mocktails for me!) available for everyone staying there – a chance to talk to the other guests if you wish. Dinner is served at your own private table or at a long shared table with the others. It’s a nice chance to meet everyone and get some social time to balance out the peaceful time alone. The food is all local, organic, and expertly prepared. Breakfast is incredible too, with multiple options including gluten free and vegan.
While it was the perfect girlfriend getaway, the Inn at Newport Ranch is a place I want to return to next time for a romantic weekend. They also host plenty of weddings, which comes at no surprise given the beautiful location and abundance of wildflowers in the spring.
It’s hard to think of a place that’s more peaceful than the Lost Coast. I haven’t found one yet, but that’s just fine, because I don’t mind returning again and again.
You can book your stay here.
*This review was brought to you in partnership with the Inn at Newport Ranch who provided my stay. My love for the Ranch is all my own, though. I fully recommend this beautiful place.