Rhododendrons as big as wedding bouquets, dahlias in popsicle-bright colors, ferns, fuchsias, succulents—it seems like the list of what doesn’t grow (and grow well) at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens must be shorter than what does flourish here. Walk among diverse plantings of perennials, trees, and shrubs—including many natives. Springtime—of course—is especially beautiful.
This is also a great spot for birding (some 150 species frequent the property), so bring binoculars for close-up views, and consider joining one of the monthly bird-watching walks led by the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society. If you’re traveling with kids, there’s one special feathered friend that will pique their interest: Quincy the Quail. Pick up a Quail Trail Guide at the park entrance so the kids can learn about Quincy and follow his hints for finding 17 quail markers along the stroller-friendly paths. The silly scavenger hunt, created by a longtime volunteer with 11 grandchildren, takes you through a eucalyptus forest, past a bush that’s a home for hummingbirds, and down to a secret fairy village where kids can make fairy houses with petals, sticks, and stones.
Master gardeners and other experts teach assorted workshops and classes throughout the year on such topics as mushroom identification, planting for pollinators, and organic gardening; check the calendar of events to see if something catches your eye and matches your schedule. Visiting green thumbs can purchase gardening tools, books, and plants at the Garden Store and Nursery. During the winter holidays, come see the gardens sparkle during the Festival of Lights (late November to mid-December).