Coastal Living Magazine
Bill and Kay Scheller, April 2008
This year, our guide to living on the coast lists a few of the options available at several price points. We've found communities where you can buy a home for less than $325,000 and others for upwards of $1.3 million. Each has easy access to open water and abundant opportunities to live the coastal lifestyle. Come join us for a fantasy home-buying tour through some of the finest coastal towns in North America.
Its hard to imagine, when you look around Mendocino and check its real estate offerings today, that 30 years ago thus gorgeously situated little community was a counterculture haven. Mendocino, Caspar, Little River - all were towns where refugees from the overripe atmosphere of hip San Francisco or "back east" came to live a free and easy life with the Pacific as their doorstep and the big woods out back.
Perched on headlands overlooking the ocean, this town was just too pretty to stay undiscovered for long. Mendocino started out as a utilitarian enough place in the mid - 1800s, when it served as a depot for the forests of redwood timber harvested inland - in fact, much of the limber used to build San Francisco during the boom years following the Gold Rush, and the great earthquake and fire of 1906, came from nearby forests. Fortunately, a lot of lumber stayed right here and was used to build a town with a core that is now a National Historic Preservaton District. If any of the homes and commercial structures on and around Main Street look familiar, it might be because the hit 1980s and '90s TV series "Murder She Wrote" was filmed here.
The Mendocino lifestyle centers as much on leisure hours as on work. But leisure is decidedly active: This is a terrific place for biking, hiking, kayaking, and the popular fall and winter wild-mushroom harvest. Natural areas in the immediate vicinity include three state parks - Van Damme, Russian Gulch, and Mendocino Headlands; Jug Handle State Reserve; and Caspar Headlands State Beach. The 50,000 acre Jackson State Demonstration Forest attracts mountain bikers. The hippies certainly knew what they were on to. And, if the occasional prosperous-looking fellow with a gray ponytail is any indication, some are on to it still.
Insider tip: The Highlight Gallery on Main Street in Mendocino exhibits works by artisans from throughout Northern California, and features furniture made by craftspeople who graduated from the acclaimed Fine Woodworking Program started at Fort Bragg's College of The Redwoods.