At the Beach
Along with several beaches to choose from, those of you who like to putter about picking up rocks and shells might enjoy a trip to Glass Beach. Far from natural, Glass Beach was once home to an actual garbage dump back in the 50's. Since changing our ways, the tide and sand have done a number on all that refuse. The beach is strewn with millions of well-worn glass rocks of every imaginable color. While you aren't allowed to collect any of this junk, it's fun to pick through. If this isn't intriguing, looking for creatures in the nearby tide pools or keeping an eye out for local sea lions may be more your speed.
Diving for abalone is a local tradition. It brings hundreds of out-of-towners into the city during abalone season (beginning April 1 every year) to try their hand at hunting for this shellfish delicacy. Regulations are strict so be sure to check in with the local Fish and Game Department before you dive. Also, diving the frigid and rough coastal waters brings its own dangers so you may want to hook up with one of the many local outfitters and dive with a group your first time out. Other ocean activities include surfing, sea cave kayak tours and charter fishing.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Fort Bragg is home to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. There are 47 acres of pathways in full view of the Pacific Ocean, and there's one nature trail leading to the beach. It's well-known for housing nearly 200 rhododendron species; some having been planted and tended since the late 1960's. The gardens also include perennials and heathers. These and countless other flowering plants attract dozens of bird species. As a result, there are excellent birding opportunities throughout the year.
That horse-accessible campsites are available in Fort Bragg shows what a horse-friendly town this is. Riding along the beachfront--right up to the water--is permitted at Ten-Mile Beach and restricted access may be available at MacKerricher and Jug Handle. Nearby Jackson State Forest has over 54,000 acres of trails for riding. Local outfitters can help arrange rides for your group if you don't have your own horse.