Gualala is an off-the-beaten-path destination offering a peaceful vibe, terrific green areas, and a rich artistic culture.
Gualala is located in Mendocino County and sits on the northern edge of the Sonoma County coast. It is surrounded by steep cliffs, and it overlooks the scenic Gualala River.
While most coastal cities have their share of fog, Gualala’s ocean breezes blow the fog towards the water so it is warm and sunny most days. Its distinct weather has earned it the nickname, "The Banana Belt".
In addition to a relaxing environment, Gualala offers a variety of entertaining and educational activities. Here are some you will want to check out when you’re in town.
Visit Salt Pointe State Park
Salt Pointe State Park is a nature lover’s dream. It offers panoramic views, impressive cliffs, prairie lands, forest lands and open grasslands.
Visitors can hike the 20 miles of trails, enjoy a picnic with friends and family or catch their dinner while fishing in the park’s waterways. Horseback riding, SCUBA diving, and hiking are other ways to while away the hours.
Take in Nature at Gualala Point Regional Park
Gualala Point Regional Park offers a completely different nature experience. Far less green, it’s characterized by a sandy oceanfront. It is perfectly located on the border of Mendocino County and the Gualala River and offers an expansive beach and a small, lush campground. While the park is a favorite for hikers and beachgoers, it is rarely crowded.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to hike up Bluff’s Top Coastal Access Trail which offers stunning views and is the perfect vantage point for whale watching.
A Visitor Center is also located on the grounds, and it serves as a terrific educational resource for those wishing to learn more about the Gualala River, the marine environment, and Native American history.
Spend a Day on the River
What better way to spend the day than by paddling, sailing or cruising down the Gualala River? The 32-mile long waterway is surrounded by old redwoods and vibrant plant life. And while the river can lull you into a state of deep relaxation, you may also encounter some exciting rapids.
Adventure Rents offers a variety of ways to see more of the river. Guests can choose from a 2-hour paddle, a 4-hour paddle, or an all-day excursion which they can enjoy in the vessel of their choice. Options include a 16’ Mad River Canoe, a single kayak, or a tandem kayak.
On your journey, you will gain firsthand knowledge of the city’s microclimates, its rich Redwood Forest, the wildflowers that sit along its river, and the sand dunes that decorate its shores.
Enjoy the Arts
Gualala’s peaceful environment is conducive to creativity so you can bet that it has its share of exhibits and galleries. Shop the many centers and boutiques to find unique handmade sculptures, paintings, jewelry, and more.
If you are an art lover, you will want to find out what’s going on at the Gualala Arts Center while you’re in town. It hosts a variety of events, changing exhibits, and festivals.
If you time your trip right, you may be in town to catch their Whale and Jazz Festival, their Fine Arts Festival, their Art in the Redwoods event, their Studio Discovery Tour or their Holiday Festival of Trees.
Up Your Game at Sea Ranch Golf Links
Sea Ranch Golf Links offers a relaxing golf experience. The first nine, designed by Robert Muir Graves, were completed in 1974. Though it was not a full regulation 18-hole course, it was recognized as one of the best in the country.
Years later, Muir was back at it with a second nine completed in 1995. Its Scottish inspiration and outstanding ocean views set it apart from all other golf courses on the West Coast.
Today, players can tee off on both courses, each of which provides a unique yet challenging environment that makes Sea Ranch a bucket list destination for golfers worldwide. The grounds also feature a putting green, rentals, instructional classes, a driving range, and a pro shop.
Enjoy Peaceful Meditation at Sea Ranch Chapel
Sea Ranch Chapel is a unique example of California architecture and a sanctuary for non-denominational worship and meditation. The unusual, shell-shaped building was designed in 1984 by James T. Hubbell, a San Diego artist known for creating structures that integrate aspects of nature.
The building was made with a variety of local, natural materials. Its stone walls serve as a foundation for the bronze accented cedar roof topped with a bronze spire. Enter the teak doors to take in the redwood interior and the plaster ceiling made to look like petals of a flower.
It’s apparent that no detail was overlooked as an artistic touch comes into every feature including the metalwork on the chandelier and prayer desk screen. The redwood pews are an elegant finishing touch.
The chapel is maintained by the Sea Ranch Foundation nonprofit organization. It is open to the public most days although it is occasionally rented for private events.
Have a Great Trip!
Gualala is a peaceful refuge and the perfect place to go to escape the stress of everyday life. If you're in town, be sure to book a stay at Wander Anchor Bay for a more relaxing retreat. You don't want to miss this 5-acre property's wood chip-lined trails, daybeds, picnic areas, and more!