Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Fort Bragg, CA

  • Published 2023/03/10

Located on California’s Mendocino coast beside the blue Pacific Ocean, the famous Fort Bragg is one of a kind in its beauty and uniqueness.

A perfect amalgamation of coral scenic beauty and American life, this city houses the famous Skunk Train, the gorgeous Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, and some of the most beautiful nature parks, lakes, wildlife ranches, and creeks.

It is also the home to the internationally famous colorful Glass Beach, adjacent to MacKerricher State Park.

With a population of roughly 7,273, Fort Bragg stretches over 2.93 square miles.

Fort Bragg is an extremely sought-after tourist location due to the magnificent views it gives of the Pacific Ocean, being a completely coastal city.

The beautiful trails stretch over to above a mile from the Noyo River Headlands, following the Bluff to the mill sites.

Another pleasing factor behind increasing visitors is the presence of mild temperatures throughout the year due to the city’s location by the Pacific Ocean.

Fort Bragg boasts cool lakesides, peaceful river bays, beautiful and glass-like ocean shores and beaches, and sleek architecture.

Visit the city and learn about its military history, explore its array of heritage monuments, board the beautiful Skunk Train, and check out the unique geological land formations, where a one-of-a-kind hiking experience awaits you.

Endless beach and water activities, the serene coastal atmosphere, and the constant hymn of sea waves are some of the things that make Fort Bragg a perfect location to spend a worthwhile vacation.

These are the best things to do in Fort Bragg, California:

Get Lost in Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Dahlia in Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden

deakins83 /

Located on North Highway 1, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is the ultimate one-stop destination for tourists of all ages.

As it is situated just beside the Pacific Ocean, its most basic yet breathtaking feature is the presence of the blue ocean.

Landscape of Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Purblind, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Apart from this, the area is home to all sorts of gardens: professionally curated gardens, flower gardens with hundreds of floral species, coastal pinewoods, manicured gardens, fern gardens, mushroom gardens, and more.

Magnolias, dahlias, rhododendrons, camellias, petunias, conifers, and heathers—every flower that you dream of seeing can be found blooming here.

A visit to this real-life Garden of Eden is a must.

A short footbridge at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Miguel Vieira, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Walk over the Colorful Glass Beach

Daytime view of Glass beach

Wollertz /

Glass Beach is one of the most unique tourist spots in Fort Bragg.

True to its name, this beach is made of degenerated glass.

It actually has quite a sad history, but at present, it is one of the world’s most wondrous beauties.

People from all over the world used to visit this place and pollute the beach with glass bottles of different colors.

These bottles naturally broke down and mixed with the stones of the land.

Glass-like stones of Glass Beach

RanQuick /

Over time, Glass Beach came to have a shore filled with rocks that look like glass.

These stones are of different colors, including brown, green, clear white, yellow and many more.

It is a treasure to walk through this beach and see countless stones of various beautiful hues.

Glass Beach is, therefore, one of the most famous and visited areas in Fort Bragg.

Apart from its fascinating shoreline, the ocean views at Glass Beach are remarkably beautiful.

A person holding a handful of stones at Glass Beach

Katie Dickinson /

Capture the Beauty of Mackerricher State Park

Rock formations at MacKerricher State Park

Dennis O’Hearn /

Located beside the road named after it, MacKerricher State Park is one of the most happening nature parks in Fort Bragg.

There are loads of things to do and see at this nature park.

People at the Mackerricher State Park

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz /

The area is famous for witnessing a number of whales regularly and other creatures like walruses, deer, and other wildlife creatures.

There is a whole set of sea creatures here, from crabs to jellyfish to starfish.

You can also watch and learn about numerous plant species, search for an excellent view by hiking through the cliffs, or walk along the trail.

Visit the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail

The Fort Bragg Coastal Trail is one of the most regularly visited areas by both visitors and locals.

It stretches across a vast area almost all around the beach.

Due to the rocky nature of the cliffs, you can do different activities and use different types of methods to enjoy the area.

Hiking is a very common practice that people do on these trails.

There are loads of options, like taking a bike or simply walking on foot.

You can follow the beautiful shoreline below and take a walk by the ocean.

The area is wheelchair-friendly, too.

There’s something for everyone on this trail.

Enjoy at Pacific Star Winery

Who ever thought wineries and vineyards could possibly have such breathtaking views?

Pacific Star Winery has been serving loving customers for over 30 long years now.

They specialize in almost every type of wine you can think of, from classic blends to rarer variants.

The grapes are often sourced from the Mendocino County vineyards.

Birdwatching is often enjoyed in the winery area.

Apart from serving excellent drinks, the area is a fine picnic spot for families.

Pacific Star Winery boasts beautiful Pacific Ocean views, and you can often catch whales passing by.

There are tasting rooms that await eager wine enthusiasts, too.

Relax at Noyo Headlands Park

Daytime view of Noyo Headlands Park

Lucy Autrey Wilson /

Noyo Headlands Park is one of Fort Bragg’s must-visit areas for hiking or biking.

It is known for its spectacular skyline views.

There are easy trails and more difficult ones, so hikers and bikers of different levels of expertise may enjoy exploring the area.

A bench overlooking the waters at Noyo Headlands Park

Lucy Autrey Wilson /

The park is home to long, clean, and broad roads that make you feel like you are at the edge of the world, with grass and rocky formations on both sides and a lovely sitting area.

Noyo Headlands Park also has a beautiful graveyard that holds several mysteries buried in the past.

You cannot possibly miss out on all that.

Take an Out-of-This-World Ride on the Skunk Train

Exterior of a Skunk train

photosgenius /

The historic Skunk Train usually travels from Willits and Fort Bragg.

This diesel-powered trail gives a wonderful rail tour of one of the areas of the world’s ecological bliss.

It looks a lot like the Hogwarts Express.

The Skunk Train's front part

Cynthia Liang /

Along its route, the train makes a stop at Crowley to show passengers one of the oldest trees, the Wolf Tree.

The Skunk Train passes by historic tunnels, the Pacific Ocean, mountains, ecological wonders, and many more of Fort Bragg’s natural treasures.

Going for a ride aboard this train is a must when in Fort Bragg.

The body of the Skunk Train

Cynthia Liang /

Learn at the Sea Glass Museum

The Sea Glass Museum will blow you away with its stunning displays.

This museum was formed by Captain Cass Forrington, a retired deep sea captain.

The fact that Fort Bragg has the world’s highest concentration of existing sea glass speaks for half the facts.

The Sea Glass Museum is by far the largest collector of sea glass in the world, with more than a whopping 3,000 artifacts kept on display for visitors.

It is a must to know about the geographical pride of this city for people of all ages.

Apart from the gorgeous glass artifacts, the museum also offers a list of all the finest sea glass locations to be found in and around Fort Bragg.

Take a Ride to Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Welcome sign of Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Missvain, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After taking the time to learn all about Fort Bragg, its history, and its most stunning attractions, take some time to detox and unwind in the presence of lush greenery.

There is no better place to do this than at Jackson Demonstration State Forest.

Apart from walking bare into it, you can take a long drive through the forest, which will surely be unforgettable.

Waterfalls along Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Chris Pugh /

The tall, green vegetation and sun-painted smooth roads with sounds of unknown birds singing in the distance might be just what you need.

You are sure to find dozens of redwood trees, firs, and more.

Eateries are readily available along the way.

Be Amazed at Pomo Bluffs Park

Scenic view of Pomo Bluffs Park

Cavan-Images /

Movie scenes of picnicking on the top of the world or holding the hand of your loved one at the world’s edge can come to life at the stunning Pomo Bluffs Park.

It has one of the most amazing cliffs all around the world.

Close view of a wildflower at Pomo Bluffs Park

Cavan-Images /

Apart from doing the usual outdoor activities like hiking or biking, you can have whole feasts on the clifftop.

Picnics often enjoyed here at the edge of the cliff with the view of the blue Pacific beside it.

The services are excellent too, with well-provided restrooms.

Crystal clear waters of Pomo Bluffs Park

Cavan-Images /

Sit by Pudding Creek Beach

Pudding Creek Trestle Bridge

bumihills /

One unique thing about the beaches in Fort Bragg is that though there are plenty of them, each one has its own unique aura and ambiance.

Pudding Creek Beach is unique in its style and view because unlike others, it is not rocky.

The waters of Pudding Creek Beach

Sergey Yarmolyuk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, the shores are not only smooth but also white, mixing into the soft blue water and giving off a Hawaiian vibe.

On top of that, it is away from the mainland and hence looks very segregated and lonesome in its beauteous style.

You can visit the Wesley Chesbro Pudding Creek Trestle, walk past the wooden mesh of the bridge, or, of course, enjoy surfing activities.

Beautiful sunset over Pudding Creek Beach

Logan Bush /

Get Inked at Triangle Tattoo & Museum

The next thing to do is stop by Triangle Tattoo & Museum for the love of body art.

Founded in 1986 by Madame Chinchilla and Mr. G, this is one of the few museums dedicated to tattoo artifacts and their history.

The architecture of the building is breathtaking with its Victorian Style.

The owners will give you a tour and are themselves authors who have worked on television shows and films.

Once you enter the area, prepare to be blown away with apparatus and art hanging from every corner.

You can also, of course, get yourself inked here, too.

Go for an Adventure with Liquid Fusion Kayaking

When in Fort Bragg, take the time to enjoy a real outdoor adventure in the water.

Liquid Fusion Kayaking has something for everyone.

There are different packages for beginners, families, and professionals.

Families often take the calm waters with swift paddling and coastal birdwatching packages, whereas professionals take rougher water routes.

All the areas around, the Noyo Headlands and Noyo Bay are covered.

Surfing and whitewater river trips are also available, with gorgeous green views to accompany the fun-filled ride.

Witness Noyo Harbor and Fishing Company

Boats at Noyo Harbor District

Noah_Loverbear, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Come visit the Noyo Harbor District and the fishing company because the area never runs short of fun and fish.

The harbor houses many beautiful ships, cruises, and launches, and the views during and after sunset are nothing short of seaside movie sets.

Apart from that, the area has seafood selling shacks that will satiate your hunger.

Aerial view of Noyo Harbor

W Nowicki, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take your pick and enjoy a perfect plate of fish and chips, fried salmon, or shrimp tacos.

You can add your choice of beer to that, along with a good song.

There are tables for everyone to sit by the ocean and have all the fun they want to have.

The bridge of Noyo Harbor

Noah_Loverbear, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Walk through Greenery at Otis R. Johson Park

The beautiful Ocean R. Johnson Park is a must for your Fort Bragg itinerary.

Located on East Laurel Street, it is a true wilderness park.

With its rugged ambiance, little brooks and streams flowing by the sides, huge and old ancient trees, long and beautiful trails, and an abundance of redwood trees and petunias, this park will surely bring calm and serenity to your soul and make for a memorable trip.

Marvel at the Glassworks of Glass Fire Gallery

Located on the gorgeous Mendocino Coast, Glass Fire Gallery was founded and operated by a husband and wife duo in 2005.

Glassmaking is a challenging and refined art, and a visit to this little gallery is a great way to appreciate and purchase the works of remarkable artists.

You can see a wide variety of glass works there, such as different types of chandeliers, including a special kind shaped like a jellyfish.

They also have table lamps and other kinds of chandeliers.

Explore Hare Creek Beach

Just south of Fort Bragg, there’s a deep cove that was formed by Hare Creek.

You’ll find Hare Creek Beach, also known as the Babcock Beach, just nearby.

When you reach the cove, you’ll be treated to the sight of awe-inspiring cliffs and rock formations.

Despite the residential area nearby, the place still holds the charm and magic of untouched nature.

You can follow a scenic trail from the parking lot to the beach, and you’ll rapidly fall in love with the sights you see.

Have a Learning Experience at the Larry Spring Museum

Lorenz “Larry” Spring devoted most of his life to an alternative analysis of electromagnetic energy in an attempt to simplify the complex mathematical formulas that described the phenomena.

The museum, located at 225 E. Redwood Avenue, features many things from his life and his research.

Here, you can see some of his original models and experiments, as well as some documents he used to present his work.

The museum also hosts various special events throughout the year, so try to participate in those if you have the chance and get an opportunity to learn more about this alternative view of scientific principles.

Appreciate the Works of Local Artists at North Coast Artists Gallery

North Coast Artists Gallery, a showroom and retail space for locally made art on North Street, was established in the winter of 1986.

Since it’s a cooperative, this gallery is managed and operated entirely by its members, and this love and passion for the arts shows in all the events and displays they organize.

However, one of the main attractions of this place is the yearly event they hold to support the local artists in the entire county.

There, these artists are given a chance to showcase their works, and the gallery visitors can see and meet them and ask about their works.

Cross the Pudding Creek Trestle

Scenic sunset over Pudding Creek Trestle

AlessandraRC /

The Pudding Creek Trestle stands over the Pudding Creek Bridge, and it’s certainly a remarkable sight to see.

It’s one of the most iconic sights of Fort Bragg, so don’t leave it out of your itinerary and remember to snap a few photos while you’re in the area.

View within the Pudding Creek Trestle

Logan Bush /

The bridge itself was once part of the Ten Mile Railroad that was built between 1915 and 1916.

However, the railway itself ceased operations in June 1949, and the tracks were torn out of the ground.

The trestle, having been integrated into the road system, is one of the only things left of it.

Structure of Pudding Creek Trestle

Poggensee /

Swim Laps at the Pool in C.V. Starr Community Center

C.V. Starr Community Center offers the best indoor entertainment within Fort Bragg.

Complete with lap and leisure pools, this facility has a range of physical-based amenities.

Other amenities you can use within this facility include dance floors, exercise rooms, and venue rentals for events.

Come by during adult swim hours and go for a few laps around the pool.

The facility has spray features, as well as a Lazy River and a slide for your ultimate swimming experience.

C.V. Starr Community Center is on South Lincoln Street.

See the Train Model Attractions at Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society

Are you a fan of trains but hesitant to ride an actual one?

Then, you might like the model trains and mechanisms at Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society.

This one-of-a-kind museum offers an overview of Mendocino North Coast’s logging railroad history.

It features a variety of layouts, including one of a Christmas parade; a G-scale of Butte, Carrie, and Walkerville; and a pizza-sized Railtrack.

The museum’s model tracks span about 2,400 feet and include bridges, towns, and even logging camps!

Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society is near the still-operating Skunk Train Depot.

Observe the Architecture and Interior of the Guest House Museum

Exterior of the Guest House Museum

bumihills /

Built in 1892, the Guest House Museum is one of the longest-standing historic buildings in Fort Bragg.

It served as the residence of the Johnson Family and the guest house of many VIP visitors during its time.

It takes pride in its old-growth redwood and decorative moldings.

Close view of the Guest House Museum

DreamArt123 /

One of its astounding house features includes multiple fireplaces, a sun porch, and a spindle staircase.

Get a closer look at the ornate furnishings and Pomo indigenous people’s artifacts and exhibits displayed within the house.

Drive along North Main Street to reach the Guest House Museum.

Learn More about Ocean Life at Noyo Center for Marine Science

If you’re ever fascinated by ocean life and marine biology, you might like dropping by the Noyo Center for Marine Science.

This marine-focused organization features three centers and shops all within Fort Bragg.

On North Main Street, the center’s Discovery Center houses the world’s biggest killer whale skeleton.

There’s also an Ocean Immersion Dome that helps you get close to wildlife beneath the ocean without submerging yourself in water.

On the other hand, the Crow’s Nest Interpretive Center offers a tide pool aquarium and mammal exhibits.

This center is within the South Coastal Trail.

Fill your stomach with tasty treats and pastries from Slack Tide Cafe, the third facility handled by the Noyo Center for Marine Science.

It’s time for an adventure below the waves!

Go Whale Watching and Wine Tasting at the Fort Bragg Whale Festival Downtown Wine Walk

One of the city’s most-anticipated events is the Fort Bragg Whale Festival Downtown Wine Walk.

This annual event takes place every March in the downtown area.

Savor the taste of local wine as you join other visitors in dropping by small and large shops within the district.

And after munching on some hors d’oeuvres, fascinate yourself with some whale-watching while along the coastal trail.

Mark your calendars for the Fort Bragg Whale Festival Downtown Wine Walk.

Final Thoughts

Fort Bragg provides a glimpse of the ideal American life, and it’s no wonder that it’s a popular destination choice for a lot of people.

From its gorgeous beaches to the artistic establishments hidden away in different corners of the area, there’s always a lot to see and explore.

Through it all, you can feel the city’s love for life, nature, and culture with every step you take.

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