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Lost in the shadows of its more famous Mendocino county sister, Gualala (pronounced gwa-LA-la) attracts beach loving travelers who don't mind windswept strands and foggy summer days. While the charm of this town appears to be the mesh of cypress-dotted mountains butting up to the often uninhabited beaches with the sound of the river flowing into the sea, Gualala also has a small town allure. Friendly locals welcome visitors into cafes, inventive eateries, the wonderful bookshop and the Gualala Art Center. And they've had a lot of practice as this has been a tourist stop since the mid-1800s, when miners passed through looking for their ...

Lost in the shadows of its more famous Mendocino county sister, Gualala (pronounced gwa-LA-la) attracts beach loving travelers who don't mind windswept strands and foggy summer days. While the charm of this town appears to be the mesh of cypress-dotted mountains butting up to the often uninhabited beaches with the sound of the river flowing into the sea, Gualala also has a small town allure. Friendly locals welcome visitors into cafes, inventive eateries, the wonderful bookshop and the Gualala Art Center. And they've had a lot of practice as this has been a tourist stop since the mid-1800s, when miners passed through looking for their riches. Today, the riches are more natural than financial as many of the purveyors have closed shop. You'll likely spend your days diving for abalone, embarking on a kayak trip, or taking a scenic trip up the coast to explore Bowling Ball Beach, the artist hamlet of Point Arena, Stornetta Public Lands, and the redwood forests that blanket the mountains. People who make their way up this far to California's north coast end up enchanted and hungry to return.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late summer and early fall offer the best chance of seeing some sun.