Fort Bragg is a full-time working town. Though the wild and busy logging days are gone, industry lives on in small mills, construction businesses, and fishing fields.
The town (population 6,604) is also working toward a revamp: A new Coastal Trail project will rehab a 45-acre blufftop area into a green space of native plants and a system of multiuse trails connecting the town to the beaches. The biggest project, however, has the town very excited. A 400-acre former Georgia Pacific mill currently sits between the town and the shore, and an approved reuse plan will convert that space into 500 residential units, park space, an extension of downtown, and more ocean views. Construction begins in the next few years.
Marie Jones, community development director, grew up in Fort Bragg, moved away, and has since returned. “It’s an alternative beach ethos,” she says. “The beach is like the town—you experience it by walking and being active.”
Redwood-covered hills rolling up and down the coast.
Your best beach is: Jug Handle Beach. The wind-protected, sunbathing stretch has miles of redwood trails leading out of it.
Your neighbors are: active. They enjoy scuba diving, biking, surfing in town at Virgin Creek, hiking in the redwoods, and organizing town events.
New concrete sidewalks beside Highway 1 that pass the North Coast Brewing Company for libations and Cowlick’s Hand Made Ice Cream shop.
The Restaurant. Chef and owner Jim Larsen serves fresh Pacific seafood. Or Piaci Pub & Pizzeria (pictured at right), with its impressive list of California brews.
Visiting Fort Bragg:
Stay a week: Built in 1915, the Grey Whale Inn is a bed-and-breakfast in downtown. Rates start at $150; 800/382-7244 or greywhaleinn.com.
Stay a month: Oceanfront Cape Cod-style bungalow, three bedrooms, three baths. Weekly rates start at $1,962; 888/942-8284 or vrbo.com/57199.