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Health and Strength

Mendocino's coast, a vegan resort, giant redwoods and charming community feels so good.

When I told my husband that I booked a stay at the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, California, I may not have mentioned that it was a vegan resort. He’s a life-long carnivore and starts and ends his day with milk. From a cow, not from nuts. 

After the drive north from SFO, past Napa Valley and over the hills and through a tunnel of redwoods and the Anderson Valley wine country, we checked in and sat down to dinner at the resort’s whole plant-based Ravens Restaurant. The meals, inspired by the on-site certified organic garden, composting and recycling programs, the cleaning supplies, electric and bio-diesel fueled vehicles make Stanford Inn & Resort North America’s only truly sustainable destination. We tucked into the futomaki and maple-tamari glazed tofu and a glass of sparkling wine from Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, just down the road. We vowed to spend the next day wine tasting along Route 128. Dinner was an adventure, one that we both reveled in. Every dish was packed with flavor and the view across the farm to the Pacific was nourishing. 

Joan Stanford and her husband Jeff own the inn and they have created the most unique hotel lobby I’ve ever experienced with a curated collection of books and gifts for sale to support a healthy and creative lifestyle. Tables and shelves in the lobby are neatly stacked with interesting titles and thought-provoking subjects. In Joan’s book, The Art of Play, she shares her journey through art and poetry and urges us to pay attention to the imagery our daily lives present to us, which can expand our awareness and joy.  Sid Garza-Hillman is a certified nutritionist and the events and wellness programs director. She believes the closer the human species moves by degrees to its natural design, the healthier and therefore happier it will be. His titles include ULTRARUNNING FOR NORMAL PEOPLE: Life Lessons Learned On and Off the Trail, Raising Healthy Parents: Small Steps, Less Stress and a Thriving Family and others. He plans private classes/sessions in nutrition and healthy living, cooking, creative playshops, breath-work, meditation, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Tai Chi, yoga, massage and spa treatments, gardening, nature walks, mushroom foraging and more. 

We discovered that when you eat clean, you feel lighter and stronger, which came in handy when we climbed into a dugout canoe at Catch A Canoe, the Stanford Inn’s outdoor adventure shop. Built by a local boat builder and designed for ease and comfort, the redwood outrigger was sturdy and fun to paddle up the moody Big River Estuary where we spotted families of river otters and harbor seals and felt the presence of coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

A drive down the twisting two-lane Highway 128 took us through the Navarro River Redwoods State Park where the road turned dark midday in a tunnel of magnificent second-growth redwood groves. Pull over and try to wrap your arms around a redwood. You won’t even hug a third of the massive trunk. The road leads from the coast’s wind-swept bluffs to the Anderson Valley, a bucolic wine country home to award-winning vineyards like Lula Cellars and Roederer Estate. 

The charming and historic town of Mendocino is perched on dramatic cliffs, so stop in at the Bay View Coffee Shop (movie posters and cow's milk!) and meet the Pacific head-on.

Joan Stanford and her husband Jeff own the inn and they have created the most unique hotel lobby