Along a dramatic stretch of coast 150 miles north of San Francisco, the Elk Cove Inn & Spa is a getaway for people who truly want exactly that: to get away. This tucked-away bed-and-breakfast in the tiny Mendocino County town of Elk (population 200, plus or minus the pets) is known for its appealing combo of luxury and remoteness. Take your pick of rooms in the 1883 main house atop a bluff, or check into a “spa suite” done in arts and crafts style, with a balcony for taking in the view and sea breeze. Oceanfront cottages boast cathedral ceilings and picture windows.
Start the day with a hearty champagne breakfast, then look for sea otters and migrating gray whales from a bluff-top gazebo, or walk down to a wind-sheltered cove and Greenwood State Beach. Then enjoy massages at the inn’s day spa, complete with an aromatherapy steam shower and sauna. When the day starts to wind down, you can too, with complimentary wine and make-your-own cocktails.
The town of Elk also offers its own charms. Since 2018, a renaissance of sorts has taken place in the small Mendocino County community, fueled by an influx of new businesses. Before exploring those, though, start at the Greenwood Museum Archives and Visitors Center (Greenwood was Elk’s original name). Housed in part of the town’s original 19th-century post office, the museum showcases artifacts, lumber camp tools, and photos of some of the region’s earliest settlers, who arrived from the East Coast. Shop for local art at The Artists’ Collective, and housewares, jewelry, and other potential gifts and souvenirs at Matson Mercantile. Eat at old-school diner Queenie’s Roadhouse Café, or splurge on a meal at the two-Michelin-starred Harbor House Inn.