Sophie's World asked the Lonely Planet bloggers to write about their favorite place for the latest Blogsherpa blog carnival. I have a long list of travel favorites. Everything from favorite country for eating, favorite hotel bed, favorite place for people watching and on and on. For this post, I thought I'd stick with "my favorite place to just be." The place where I feel the most at peace and comfortable. The place I could return again and again and always discover new beauty. That place for me is Sea Ranch in Northern California.
Sea Ranch Chapel | Photo by: Franny Syufy
As a child, I remember driving past Sea Ranch on Highway One on various family vacations. I was in awe of the beautiful, distinctive houses that blend harmoniously with the environment. When my husband and I lived in the Bay Area, we took a long weekend vacation to Gualala, California - the town closest to Sea Ranch. As we drove by Sea Ranch, I pointed out the houses I found interesting as a young girl. He immediately fell in love with the style as well. That afternoon, we checked out a vacation rental agency and decided next time, we would vacation at Sea Ranch. It wasn't long until Sea Ranch became our family tradition.
Created in the 1960s as a planned development that would have minimal environmental impact and a style that blended with the rugged natural surroundings. Sea Ranch is quintessential Northern California. Residential density is purposely low. Utilities lines are underground. Cars must not be parked in sight of others or on the streets. There are no fenced and landscaped backyards. But rather a simple deck over a common space of natural terrain, which is maintained by grazing sheep and deer. Houses, built of wood, must blend in the natural landscape. Houses cannot obstruct the view of the ocean from other houses. No street lights and minimal light pollution allows for starry, starry nights. The parks for children are built out of same wood as the houses and are unobtrusive. One of the common swimming pools and recreation centers is a remodeled stable reminding visitors of the days when Sea Ranch was truly a working ranch.
The recreation center blends in with surroundings | Photo: Linkwitz Rentals
Gualala, California | Photo: Linkwitz Rentals
In the nearby town of Gualala, you can find two small grocery stores and a few restaurants. On the weekends, one of the grocery stores barbecues mouthwatering tri-trip in the parking lot. Up the road, Anchor Bay, Point Arena and Mendocino offer some specialty shops, better restaurant selection and art galleries. You will find lots of kayaks on the Gualala river and hiking trails in the mountains or along the coast. Inside Sea Ranch, there is a magical little forest where I am positive fairies live. My daughter swears she has seen them flying from redwoods to fern groves. O.K. she is seven, but Sea Ranch is the type of place where everything is so peaceful, you can really let you mind wander. Which is what we do when we visit Sea Ranch. We take the kids to the beaches to explore, go for long hikes, melt in the hot tub on the deck while watching nibbling deer, read books and simply be with each other.
:: More Information ::
- Sea Ranch Association
- The Sea Ranch Lodge
- Beach Rentals: Sea Ranch vacation rentals. We use this vacation rental agency.
- Mar Vista Cottages: Where we stayed on our first trip to Gualala. Charming cottages
This blog on my favorite place is part of the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa's blog carnival hosted by Sophie's World. The previous carnival was hosted by First Time Travel about you guessed it, first travel experiences. Look forward to the next carnival hosted by Tie Dye Travels on foods around the world.