Mountain Biking Mendocino County, California
Travel trends point to a sharp curve toward wellness and rejuvenation vacations that lend activities that bend both mind and body. Adventures in the great outdoors are top of the list, as is taking to new forms of fitness including off-road biking to tap into a higher power.
Mendocino County in northern California is a biker’s paradise. From Ukiah to Willits the vast network of trails is nothing short of stunning. The groundwork is immense: a tapestry of 24 state and national parks, hundreds of dedicated trails and some of the sweetest turf known to both traditional and E-bike riders. If you’re packing the wheels, many trails are just outside of key destinations providing an easy day adventure, while others connect to the true outback, lending credence to the term “off-grid.” Add a dose of wildlife, relics from the logging days and a top-shelf trail maintenance team and a vacation atop two wheels just picked up speed.
For a seaside escape
For a day-long dreamboat ride, take the tribe and head inland from the Pacific to Mendocino Headlands State Park, offering seven trails skirting the placid Big River. Within the Headland’s boundaries, Big River State Park steps up with a moderate day ride via the 29-mile Big River Loop. The route includes 45 trails with an elevation climb of 3,126-ft., and offers a variety of single- and doubletrack options as well as old logging roads that flow with the river. Gentle hills, an abandoned quarry and a small gulch with wood ducks and blue herons set the stage. If you turn left at the fork, take advantage of Lily’s swimming hole for a dip; the loop is approximately six hours at a moderate pace.
Where to stay: For the ultimate escape by the sea, you can pop out to the Pacific to The Stanford Inn by the Sea, a 41-room retreat set on 10-acres overlooking Mendocino Bay. Rustic and rejuvenating, this inn offers a variety of wellness programs as well as the popular plant-based Ravens Restaurant. Next door, you can rent bikes at Catch-A-Canoe with the added plus of a direct hit to the Big River Trail.
For novice bikers
If an inland adventure is on the bucket list, along Highway 101, Willits is home to 30 dynamic trails, largely rated beginner to moderate. Novices can get a taste for the sport via a network of flat trails in the Brookline Greenbelt. The short yet sweet singletrack Jurassic or Anchorage trails can be expanded via longer connectors. Another option is the up and down, soft and flowy Swoop Logg singletrack with a slight downhill slope and optional log ride; check the Swoop Loggy Logg signage at the entrance. You can easily tie in additional routes including Miss Gnomer, a 3,274 ft., popular singletrack downhill delivering a quick five-minute thrill.
Where to stay: Pack the boots and cowboy hat and high tail it to Willits and the 22-room Old West Inn, complete with themed rooms and a Tesla charging station. You can also belly up for a bountiful $5 breakfast at the Lumberjack Restaurant, offering plenty of local color.
For elevated rides
Sporting 11 trails of varying ability, Mendocino National Forest is the stop if you want to test drive capability. Go big or go home via the 167-mile Mendocino Backcountry Discovery Trail, which stretches north east of Covelo. Here, the 21,921-ft., climb is certain to max the muscles with an aggressive peak out at 6,443 elevation.
Another option if your team has a need for speed is the shred-friendly Upper Powderhouse Trail just outside of Ukiah. Here, natural hips and berms set up a nice descent down a loose and steep trail dropping 7,000-ft. Although rated very difficult/black diamond, if you take the trail slow it turns into a moderate ride with exceptional views of the Ukiah valley and resident wildlife. A network of novice trails also exist including the Deer Valley trail which runs 4-miles with a green/easy rating on a moderate track with a modest 1,341-ft., climb. For shuttle pick-up and drop-off, the singletrack 1.5-mile Rice-a-Roni trail delivers a downhill thrill with an 802-ft., descent.
Where to stay: High tail it to the Redwoods River Resort in Laytonville, with a throwback A-frame lodge, cozy cabins and tent sites. Tucked deep in the sprawling redwoods along the Eel River, this is your stop for true California, as well as pulling up a barstool at the ever-buzzing Harrison’s Pub where you can join the party for Big Foot on a nightly basis.
For treks through the Redwoods
Another top redwood romp lies in Jackson State Demonstration Forest, which offers 77 trails mostly carved for easy to moderate riders. This is big country, with 50,000 acres of woodland land and the majority of singletrack routes in Mendocino are found, linking some 80- and 100-miles of trails through pristine redwood, fir and pine forests. Built in the 1930s by the California Conservation Corps, the Boiler Trail is a moderate jaunt you can easily enjoy both ways, with a mild 154-ft., climb. Along the way, you’ll catch an antique boiler left behind from the logging era. The Condor, Blue Gum and Gunslinger trails are all solid start-ups leading to the only black diamond in the park – Jim’s Trail – a short fuse 700-ft., rapid descent with deep ruts, roots, steep sections and series of jagged turns requiring expert ability. Biker beware; wear a bell.
Just a few miles east of the village of Mendocino within Jackson Forest, 11 expertly carved Mendocino Woodland Trails are the region’s crown jewels. Here, you can tap into the moderate 4.2-mile Manly Gulch Trail for a two-hour stint out and back traversing tan oak, madrone, douglas fir and ancient redwood groves. The singletracks interconnect for miles, winding through breathtaking forest backdrops. A few technical sections are peppered throughout in addition to mini bridges, spurs and meandering creeks. Sidenote: No dust factor.
Where to stay: The Water Tower at the JD House offers a contemporary spin on a ship captain’s home with a fresh, sleek design and understated elegance. Set on a side street in the village of Mendocino with plenty of space for gear, the 1870s tower features an oversized bath, wood-burning fireplace, flat-screen television and iPad docking station surrounded by fragrant English gardens.
For wine country wilderness
If the great outdoors is calling you, head to where redwood forests meet wine country: Lake Mendocino. The 700-acre wilderness area boasts 15 miles of biking trails and – if alfresco lodging is on the roster – 300 campsites. Just east of Ukiah, this region features 19 designated trails including the 17-mile Mendocino Lake Loop and popular 2.9-mile singletrack Shakota Trail that runs along the northside of the lake. This is big country with wide open spaces and spectacular views, wildlife is abundant and the chances of catching a natural high – 100 percent. The popular Manzanita Trail, which runs from the south end of the dam to the Eastside Trail is a 3.2-mile rollercoaster, pumping up and down the hillside along the lake.
Where to stay: The Kyen Campground offers a variety of spots with great facilities (flush toilets, showers) and select grills, on a first come basis. Your site is surrounded by groves of oak, manzanita and pine and sits just off the lake for boating or fishing for bass and bluegill.
Connect With Nature at These Peaceful Farm Stays
Ever wondered what life on a working farm was like, or searching for a unique way to connect with nature and unplug from the busy-ness of daily life? Booking a farm stay is the perfect way to reset, relax, and try something new—like making goat cheese, feeding horses, or harvesting vegetables. Below are five incredible properties that are set in idyllic landscapes and offer unique and budget-friendly guest experiences. The Silo House at Laughing Llama Farm For a truly unique stay, book a trip to "The Silo House" at Laughing Llama Farm, located in Troy, Texas (about 25-30 miles from other nearby towns of Waco, Temple, and Belton). Guests stay in a renovated grain bin, complete with an upstairs loft with a queen-sized bed, a sleeper sofa downstairs, full bathroom, and an additional private outdoor shower under the stars. Guests can bring their own rods and lures and fish in the on-site pond, and spend the day watching the llamas and sheep graze while enjoying the seclusion of rural life. Mountain Goat Lodge Stargazing in Salida, Colorado - courtesy of Jared Evans With nightly rates starting at around $90, the Mountain Goat Lodge is a budget-friendly gem located in the pristine Colorado wilderness, just a few miles from the town of Salida, Colorado. Each room has a private balcony for guests to take in the incredible scenery of the Sawatch Mountain Range and rolling pastures (complete with adorable goats). The resident goats are not only adorable to look at, but provide the lodge with milk, cheese, and yogurt for tasty home-cooked meals. You can even participate in a cheese-making class. Paradise Amish Guesthouse Amish country - courtesy of Randy Fath Curious what life is like on a working Amish farm? Consider this Airbnb located in Guests who stay in the aptly-named town of Paradise, Pennsylvania. The Paradise Amish Bed and Breakfast offers a rare opportunity to interact with an Amish family. Owners John and Sarah have five children and keep horses and chickens at the farm, as well as a large vegetable garden. Guests may take a tour of the property if time allows (please coordinate with your hosts prior to your trip). According to the listing, there may also be "other opportunities for interaction" but this is dependent on the length of stay, season, and the owner's schedule—so if you're looking for anything specific, you may want to inquire about it in advance of booking. Current rates are going for around $108 per night. Lavender Farm Converted Hayloft Lavender fields - courtesy of Léonard Cotte This Airbnb stay in a hayloft has quite the history, according to the listing: "Once a ski lodge, then a horse barn, the hayloft in this unique stone barn has been converted to a comfortable and peaceful getaway. Enjoy a tranquil farm stay on a working Lavender farm." Guests are invited to help feed the sheep, see the horses and chickens, stroll through the "lavender labyrinth," hike on the farm's one-mile nature trail, and enjoy the serene views on the back patio. Current rates are going for around $150 per night. Willow-Witt Ranch The Willow-Witt Ranch in Ashland, Oregon - courtesy of Alex Bierwagen Named by Conde Nast Traveler as "Agritourism at its Best," the Willow-Witt Ranch is an incredible property in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and just twelve miles from the small town of Ashland, Oregon. While a bit pricier than other stays on our list (rates start out at $250 per night), the Willow-Witt Ranch offers a lot for visitors who truly want to take in off-grid living and the farming lifestyle. As stated on their website, the "gentle valley invites you to explore forests, meadows and wetlands filled with wildlife, colorful birds, and over 200 varieties of plants in a restored and protected environment." Everything from tent sites on the campground to a secluded "Meadow House" are offered for a variety of experiences. To learn about the history of the land and the farm, guests can take a self-guided farm tour or join in on animal feeding, egg gathering, or vegetable farming. Products from the farm are also available for purchase in the Farm Store.
Best Cities to Celebrate Easter
Easter is typically a big consumer holiday that rakes in billions and gives Americans toothaches. In fact, 80% of Americans celebrated the holiday last year, and this year consumers are expected to spend $24 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, grocery stores will offer an abundance of seasonal foods like chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps, as well as extra eggs for people who want to dye them. For Christians, however, Easter is less of a commercial event than a holy experience. It not only marks the end of Lent — a 40-day period of fasting, reflection, prayer and repentance followed directly by Easter Sunday — but it also celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and represents the “new covenant” between God and humanity. In observance of the holiday, many families will attend services. Some Americans will feel the Easter spirit more than others, depending on where they live. In order to determine the best cities for celebrating Easter, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across four key dimensions: 1) Easter Observers, 2) Easter Traditions, 3) Kids’ Easter and 4) Easter Weather. Metrics looked at things like the number of candy and chocolate stores, churches per capita, park space, and weather patterns. The best places to celebrate include great spring weather, a family-friendly atmosphere, and great places to celebrate the occasion. Desert destinations offer a sunny holiday The Easter bunny in Las Vegas - courtesy of Kenny Eliason In many southwestern cities, warm and dry weather can make the Easter holiday a great time to visit (just be careful—some higher altitude desert towns can see serious snow this time of year, too). Three desert climate towns make the top 10 for WalletHub's list: Albuquerque, New Mexico ranks 9th, Las Vegas, Nevada ranks eighth, and El Paso, Texas takes third place. Las Vegas ties with New York City for the most candy and chocolate stores and ties in 3rd place (with North Las Vegas) for the best Easter season weather. However, it may not be the best place for those interested in a church setting or family-friendly Easter (Sin City ranks 39th and 48th in the Easter Observers and Kid's Easter categories, respectively). El Paso, TX ranks third overall and third for the size of the Christian population, seventh in the Easter Observers category, and twelfth in the Kids' Easter category, so those seeking a traditional and family-friendly Easter will find this town fits the bill. There are plenty of egg hunts planned for Easter weekend. Florida cities take the top spot for traditions Miami, Florida - courtesy of aurora.kreativ Miami ranks seventh overall, and Orlando comes right ahead in sixth, for the best cities to celebrate Easter. In the Easter Traditions, category, they both come out on top—Miami is first, and Orlando is second. If you're looking for great Easter gifts and decorations, Florida has you covered: Miami comes in fourth for the most flower and gift shops per capita, while Orlando ties in first place for the most flower and gift shops. Orlando also comes in fifth for most churches per capita. While both Florida towns got points off in the weather category—as an afternoon thunderstorm isn't unusual for the state—visitors can still expect wonderfully warm days, and many storms pass quickly. As such, there are plenty of fun outdoor events like egg hunts, farm and zoo events, Easter Bunny photo ops, and more. Southern towns full of the Easter spirit Church in New Orleans - courtesy of JR Harris It's no surprise that Southern towns come out on top when it comes to a holiday typically spent at church—after all, these places make up the Bible Belt. Birmingham, Alabama ranks fifth overall, thanks to its first place rank for the most churches per capita of any city. And while New Orleans is most often considered for its big parties the other side of Lent (Mardi Gras), plenty will be celebrating Easter—they have the second largest Christian population. New Orleans ranked fourth overall for the best place to spend Easter. As a mostly Catholic town, there are many places to attend services on Sunday morning. Afterwards, visitors won't want to miss the Historic French Quarter Easter Parade. Most festive Northern cities Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - courtesy of Yuhan Du While colder-climate towns may not spring to mind when it comes to enjoying April (at this point, most people are tired of the rain and snow), two northern cities made WalletHub's top spots. Buffalo, New York ranks second overall, thanks to a second place finish for most churches per capita and fifth place rank for percentage of the population that identifies as Christian. This year, Buffalo has several fun events for all ages happening around the city, including brunches, Easter Bunny sightings, and even a unique egg hunt/ghost hunt experience. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania came out as the number one best place to celebrate Easter. The town performed well in almost all categories and, impressively, has the fourth highest number of chocolate and candy stores (which may make up for an otherwise lackluster finish in the "Kids' Easter" category). Downtown Pittsburgh is also home to several great restaurants that make an ideal place to celebrate. — Visit WalletHub to view the full list of rankings.
Earth-friendly Travel Ideas for April
Earth Day is officially celebrated on April 22nd, making this month a perfect time to travel more sustainably, learn about our environment, and enjoy the outdoors. The warmer spring weather definitely makes a nature-focused trip more appealing as well. Below are several eco-friendly ways to spend Earth Day—or any day—celebrating our amazing planet. Take a hike in a national park Supporting our national parks directly supports maintaining those environments for future generations to enjoy. Aside from being budget-friendly, there are great options across the country, meaning that you don't have to travel far (in turn, minimizing your carbon footprint from transportation); camping is a sustainable, energy-efficient alternative to hotel stays as well. Hikes for any age and athletic level can be found at most parks, making it an accessible option for anyone to experience the beauty of nature. This is also a great time of year to see incredible springtime blooms across many regions. Restore coral reefs in the Florida Keys Coral reefs in the Florida Keys - courtesy of the Coral Restoration Foundation In the Keys, visitors can participate in the Coral Restoration Foundation's dive programs to help restore coral reefs off the coast of Florida, learn about coral restoration, and assist with clean-up and planting. Volunteers with an extended stay can also work in the coral nursery, outplant new coral, or monitor the coral. The Recreational Dive Programs let all ocean lovers make a difference and can be tailored to all skill levels—even if you're a beginner (and scuba gear is available for rental). As a snorkeler, you can visit the nurseries, and help with monitoring corals on the outplanting sites. Participate in an Earth Day initiative Participate in a global cleanup project - courtesy of earthday.org If you’re looking for a way to pitch in, or simply learn more about our planet on this and every day, find an initiative near you at Earthday.org, which lists things like foraging walks, online seminars, tree-planting projects, and The Great Global Cleanup, where you can join a group cleaning up somewhere nearby, or get tips on how to launch one of your own. They even have something called “plogging,” which is apparently picking up trash while jogging. Fun to do (if you like jogging) and fun to say. See climate-focused art Consider catching the Yanomami exhibit in New York (open now through April 16), focused on preserving rainforest and Indigenous rights, or take a stroll through downtown Columbus, Ohip to check out climate-focused art installations displayed in storefront windows. Go off-the-grid at the Greater World Earthship Community Earthship biotecture and bottle wall in Taos - courtesy of roadtrippers.com In the high mountain desert of Taos, New Mexico lies the thriving Greater World Earthship Community. This unique off-grid community welcomes tourists to learn more about their innovative living structures designed by architect Michael Reynolds. The "Earthship" is a sustainably-built, fully self-sufficient home that was pioneered in the early 1970s by Reynolds. Today's structures run off natural energy, harvest water, produce food, and even treat waste. Explore their visitor center or book one of their unique rentals. Near the site, take an educational trip to the Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about regenerative land practices Ted Turner Reserves in New Mexico - courtesy of tedturnerreserves.com The Ted Turner Reserves are comprised of four private New Mexico ranches, where work restoring and safeguarding "America's wild spaces" take precedence. The reserves include four properties where guests can stay, and stays can include tours with private guides of the lands, which are some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ecosystems in the country. Conservation efforts on the reserves include the protection of rare and iconic species – such as the North American bison, Bolson tortoise, Rio Grande cutthroat trout and Mexican wolf – along with initiatives like the riparian restoration plan and the Ponderosa pine restoration project. The reserves also host environmental researchers and scientists as part of our overarching mission to preserve wilderness areas for generations to come. Turner's wish is "to share his love of nature and discovery in the hope that those visiting his properties will develop a deeper appreciation for and awareness of what our Earth has to offer and, just as importantly, a shared responsibility for the well-being of our environment." Visit an eco-friendly resort Grounds at the Farmhouse Inn in Woodstock, Vermont - courtesy of the Farmhouse Inn In Woodstock, Vermont the Farmhouse Inn offers solar-powered accommodations—you can even host your event or wedding here. Locally prepared bath products are provided in bulk dispensers with no individual packaging. Kitchen scraps and table leftovers are brought to the compost pile to be enjoyed by the Inn's hens and, later, the compost is used to mulch the kitchen garden. All inn and event trash is sorted to separate recyclables and returnable bottles, disposable tableware is not allowed during events, and most celebration flowers are donated for reuse at local assisted living facilities. In Kennebunkport, Maine, the Colony Hotel strives "to provide personal gracious hospitality and service with sensitivity to the environment." As such, special care is taken to reduce waste on-site and use non-toxic foods, cleaning supplies, and other items whenever possible. The grounds and gardens are never sprayed with chemicals; waste is recycled, composted, or minimized; and products are purchased locally. The historic hotel also donates $1 for every night stay to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. Nestled at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos in Utah, the Sundance Mountain Resort calls the Sundance Preserve its home. Protective covenants cover 3,343 acres of land along with the Redford Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve consisting of 860 acres of protected land. Guests who stay at Sundance Resort can participate in the linen re-use program, all rooms are cleaned using non-toxic cleaning supplies, and guests are given the opportunity to recycle their paper, cans and glass products in their guest rooms. Sundance water throughout the resort and in every lodging accommodation comes from local mountain-fed springs.
Ultra-Affordable Airbnbs with Unique Designs
Since Airbnb's Design Category launched in 2022, architects, designers and artists have opened their homes to guests, providing ample opportunities for designer stays at reasonable prices. From mid-century marvels to post-modern head-turners, the Design Category features a collection of over 20,000 vacation rentals chosen for their iconic architecture and interiors. Airbnb recently released lists of the most wishlisted listings in the Design Category—many of which are available for under $100 per night. Below are several ultra-affordable and highly rated rentals in North America that made the list, as well as a handful of equally highly-rated and low-cost options from the Airbnb's artfully inspired collection. Ravinia Bungalow - Dallas, Texas This unique artist's bungalow with lofted bedroom includes a private bathroom with shower. The amazing hideaway is located on a nearly 2-acre property in Dallas' North Oak Cliff neighborhood, just minutes from the Bishop Arts district and a short drive from downtown Dallas. Urban Sanctuary - Chicago, Illinois Urban sanctuary in Chicago - courtesy of airbnb.com This loft is a vintage lover's dream. Starting in the kitchen, you’ll see beautiful zinc alloy countertops, gorgeous antique mirror backsplashes, and a throwback SMEG 50’s refrigerator. Antique lumber detail can be found throughout the loft, from the floors all the way to the night stands. Enjoy the funky wicker swing chair and think of all the chic guests who may have used the closet doors—brought in from NY’s Plaza hotel! Current rates are around $75/night. A Studio With A View - Gatlinburg, Tennessee Mountain views from Gatlinburg condo rental - courtesy of airbnb.com This newly remodeled 400 sq ft condo is perfect for couples or small families. Everything has been tastefully redone from the new flooring, to stainless appliances, to the new queen bed with a memory foam mattress. From the balcony, enjoy sweeping mountain views by day, and the twinkling lights of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge below by night. The condo resort sits at 3,000 feet to enjoy the wonderful views (but is still a convenient 3 miles to downtown Gatlinburg) and inlcudes an outdoor pool. Current rates are just over $110 per night, but on average a night at this condo goes for under $100. Cozy and Stylish Studio in Irving Park - Chicago, Illinois This studio space has everything you need! A bistro-style dining nook is perfect for breakfast for two, and the pampering bathroom features a bathtub/shower, and there's a shared rooftop deck lounge area. Set between South Old Irving and Kilbourn parks, the building lies in one of Chicago's most interesting historical neighborhoods. It's not far from Logan Square and features many great local restaurants and bars. Current rates are only $65/night, and average under $100/night. Beautiful Bedroom in Architectural Gem - Los Angeles, California Rent a bedroom in this architectural gem - courtesy of airbnb.com Designed by architect Neil Denari, this home offers a unique experience for art and architecture fans and has been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and Vogue. The guest area is located in a wing of the original 1940 house, and is decorated in a modern style with nods to mid-century design. Shared spaces are bespoke, modern, and extraordinary. While it's a bit more than some of the other rentals on the lists, it still comes in around $175/night for most dates. Cabaña Geométrica con Piscina Mont Blanc - Tepoztlán, Mexico Geometric cottage in the forest - courtesy of airbnb.com Meet the Geometric Forest Cabin in Tepoztlán! This is a unique, tiny cottage away from the noise of the city and immersed in nature—an ideal hideaway for adventurers, couples, and travelers looking to relax with unparalleled panoramic views of the mountains and valley. There are several cabins on the property and guests share access to beautiful gardens and a refreshing stone pool, ideal for swimming or just relaxing and sunbathing. Current rates hover just above $120/night. The Strazza House - Waco, Texas The Strazza house - courtesy of airbnb.com Even though this tiny container home didn't make the top of the list in Airbnb's research, it still comes out as one of the most highly rated properties in the Design collection. It started as a 20' shipping container, before CargoHome insulated it, paneled the interior in pine shiplap, and trimmed it out in 100+ year-old barn wood. The outside is clad with cedar siding, spaced to allow the original container to still be seen. The fun rooftop deck is surrounded by a custom cable railing system and lit with LED lights that gives the deck a beautiful glow at night. Climb up to the rooftop deck for stargazing or your morning coffee. Current rates come in around $90/night. Artsy Glamping Tiny House - Castleton, Ontario, Canada Tiny house for glamping - courtesy of airbnb.com This unique miniature home set on the hillsides of rural Ontarioalso missed a spot in the official top-ranked list, but comes in with great rates and ratings. Located 200 feet from the main house on the property, guests will have the hilltop around the tiny house to themselves for a unique "glamping" experience. Guests can enjoy walking trails through the woods (30 acres of property), an outhouse, seasonal warm water outdoor shower and small cooling-off pool, a large deck for star gazing, and a seasonal fire pit. This rental is also just a few kilometers from the artsy town of Warkworth. Current rates are just over $110/night.