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“a most unique destination on the Pacific Coast”

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Point Cabrillo Light Station
Ranked #16 of 25 Mendocino B&B and Inns
San Francisco, California
Level 6 Contributor
136 reviews
112 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 605 helpful votes
“a most unique destination on the Pacific Coast”
Reviewed April 17, 2008

When you drive past the "Private, Handicapped access only" sign and down the longish 1/2 - 1 mile road to the Lighthouse Inn B&B, look to your left and right into the fields and perhaps you'll spot one (or a few) of the deer or wild turkeys that live on the grounds. As you walk into the building (it's the center house of the three), you'll probably notice countless gopher holes across the caretaker's otherwise immaculate groundskeeping. The East house is a museum demonstrating how the lightkeepers lived in the early 1900's, while the West house is Jim the caretaker's residence, not restored nor open to the public.

If you manage to arrive between 4 & 6 p.m., there's a welcome & socializing reception with sliced fruits, nuts, chips, various hors d'oeuvres and wine or juice in the dining room. The living room has extremely comfortable couches & chairs dating from the lighthouse's heyday (early 1900's), and there's a glassed in gallery room in the front of the house with chairs and binoculars where you can watch the finches and other birds raiding the always-stocked birdfeeders. The rooms themselves are upstairs. Four in all, each with their own bathroom & shower (the Lightkeeper's room has a separate W.C. room and shower room). No TV's here (and I consider this a good thing... there's plenty enough to see around outside).

If you must have some kind of link to the outside world, there's WiFi access in the house and you can get the password from one of the staffers. The two days of my visit, I wasn't able to make it out to the internet (although the router was definitely working and I was able to connect to it's configuration page, I just couldn't get any further than that... the router probably needed a reboot, which I was too sheepish to follow up with any of the staffers to do).

The lighthouse itself is probably about 1,500 feet down the path from the house, and yes, it really does cast off a remarkably strong, blinking beam at night. There are thick pulldown shades in the windows that block most of the beam in all the rooms (the "Lighthouse" room gets the full blast of the light, while the Lightkeeper's room gets a side blink). It was mesmerizing to watch the beams track along the ground during the night, but my girl insisted for me to keep the blinds down. Each room has it's own climate control, but I was very content to keep my room windows open for a fresh ocean breeze.

Breakfast is advertised as five courses. First serving was sliced fruit & some yogurt on top, second course (served at the same time as the fruit & yogurt) was extremely fresh & tasty (almost certainly made on site) scones & juices; third course was a fruit smoothie; fourth course was quiche & turkey sausage (on our first morning) and french toast & bacon (on our second morning). Sorbet is the finishing course. Everything was beautifully prepared and nothing was excessive (in other words, just the right amounts of everything).

The staffers will offer recommendations for places for dining in the nearby towns (Fort Bragg is about 5-7 miles north, Mendocino is about 2 - 3 miles south). We enjoyed Sharons by the Sea (tiny place, make a reservation ahead of your visit!) and Mendo Bistro both up in Fort Bragg.

There are deer and other critters wandering all around the nature preserve (soon to be a full blown California state park) that this B&B sits upon. I doubt you could go more than an hour without seeing any deer. On both days of our visit they were very close to the B&B buildings, and when we returned from Mendo Bistro on one night a pack of at least four deer were lounging on the lawn between the parking spots and the houses. On our exit from the Nature Preserve, we got a nice view of a flock of wild turkeys. The paths around the nature preserve are easy & scenic walks, almost always in sight of the lighthouse & buildings. We noticed jellyfish in the water in the coves next to the walking paths. Depending on the time of year you're at the lighthouse, you'll certainly see whales spouting off in the water. I saw plenty of spouts during our visit (in April), a few whale backs and even one or two tails. No scenic whale breeches, no idea why (maybe the water was too shallow or they weren't in the mood for it or).

Jim Kimble the keeper is just as friendly as other reviews have stated. You'll invariably speak with him at some point before or during your stay (your reservation can be made directly via the Inn's website or, amazingly, it looks like the inn can be booked through Expedia as well). He provided us with an hour long history & explanatory tour of the public areas of the lighthouse. The light itself is off limits to the public (which is typical for most lighthouses in the USA, the U.S. Coast Guard "owns" them). There are four days per year when the light is open for tiny groups (of 4 people, must be at least 12 years old) to examine.... For 2008 that would be May 3rd (Mendocino Historic Preservation Days), June 7 (Light Station's 99th Birthday), August 2 (National Lighthouse Day) and September 27 (Cabrillo Days). I can see why only a few people would be allowed up there at any one time.... there's not that much space to move around upstairs. The people who did the restoration of the lighthouse and the residences did an amazing job.

Overall, the Lighthouse Inn is not the cheapest place to stay (our two night visit came out to be $1,200), but the money goes for a great cause (keeping the lighthouse & the inn beautifully maintained). It is certainly one of the most unique and picturesque destinations along the California Coast. I'm thankful we got to stay there before this place gets very well known and difficult to book.

  • Liked — so incredibly scenic and peaceful
  • Disliked — no links to the outside world, but for most stays here that is a good thing
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank MichaelInSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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35 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
La Jolla, CA
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 15, 2007

My husband and I had a wonderful stay at the Lighthouse Inn. We were more than pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience including the beautifully decorated rooms, very comfortable bed, excellent lighting in the rooms, convenient local restaurant information in the rooms, great shower, delicious breakfast in the morning, wine and cheese in the evening and the best part...a tour of the grounds and lighthouse by Jim.

We highly recommend this B&B for a romantic weekend away. There are no phones or TV. The high speed internet may not work, but this is probably a good thing.

It is a little difficult to find if you are expecting lots of signs or your GPS unit to lead you there. If you make sure you just follow directions to the lighthouse and not the actual physical address listed on your reservation, then you are OK.

We saw two bobcats in the late evening. Had a fabulous dinner at the MacCallums Inn (salad is incredible).

We stayed in the headlands room. When making reservations, consider not staying in the room that has a view of the lighthouse, or you may be bothered with 10 second flashing light from the lighthouse all night. The headlands room was great.

We would definitely stay there again!!!

  • Liked — Historical overtones, supporting California State Park System (very important, you CA residents and visitors!)
  • Disliked — spookiness of the lighthouse flashing at the peak of darkness
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank ReviewsByJEN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2007

The Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo is perfect. First, this BB is located in a 300 acre nature preserve with an unbelievable view of the Pacific Ocean. Secondly, you will stay in a meticulously restored
historic light house keeper's home. Third, the host Jim Kimbrell will
share the passion of the Light keeper's Association, which is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the historic 1909 Point Cabrillo Light Station. He will also lead an educational tour of the lighthouse. Fourth, the Breakfast was fantastic. We stayed in the Pacific room, which was in immaculate shape. The evening sunset from the lighthouse was spectacular. The morning stroll along the bluff with freshly brewed coffee was icing on the cake. This is a must stay place if you are in the Mendocino area!!

  • Liked — Everything-Location, Accomodations, Inn Keeper
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BobnSueChicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford
Level 6 Contributor
132 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
Reviewed September 23, 2007

It was simply perfect in all aspects.

We met the lady who looked after the B&B, we met the cook and the young lady who cleaned. All were so frinedly and helpful.

The position is romantic, relaxing and every other superlaitive you can think of.

It is impeccably clean, friendly and the breakfast was superb.

Without doubt it was our best night stop on a 3 week tour of the coast between San Franciso and Seattle.

Helpful?
Thank AnOxfordCouple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thousand Oaks, California
Level 6 Contributor
117 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
Reviewed July 23, 2007

We visited this great spot over the 4th of July holiday. We had a wonderful time. The room (we had the Headlands Room) was beautifully appointed and comfortable. The bathroom was small, but pretty and functional. The view was very nice: headlands, neighboring historic building, and, if you tilt your head, the lighthouse itself. The only oddity is that there is no key. You can lock your self in, but you can't lock the door behind you. I'm sure if you were concerned, you could ask for a key, but we weren't worried.

As the Inn's website will tell you, the Inn is the Lightkeeper's residence from the turn of the century. They did a lovely restoration/refurbishing. The Watch Room (a glassed-in porch with an amazing view of the lighthouse) is incredible.

The real attraction, though, is the friendly and helpful staff. Inkeeper Jim is gracious and welcoming. We mentioned that we had dinner reservations at a local establishment. He told us that his guests had been disappointed with that particular restaurant lately, and got us a great table at Cafe Beaujelais instead, where we had a fantastic meal. The other staffers are just as warm, and clearly want you to have a great stay.

The guests-only tour of the lighthouse is treat. We learned so much about the Light and the area. Except for a few paid Inn staffers, the lighthouse and its grounds are maintained by volunteers. Our volunteer Light Keeper tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable. It was clear that he was sharing his passion with us. Knowing that proceeds from the Inn go back in to maintenance make the stay even better.

The appetizers and wine at check-in are a nice touch. Breakfast was filling and delicious, and as it is served at the large dining table, we got to share a lovely meal with the other guests.

Just a few minutes outside of town, this is a perfect blend of solitude and convenience. We wouldn't stay anywhere else.

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank jandtpeters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed December 23, 2006

We stayed at the Lighthouse in October, just a month after the Keeper's Cottage was opened as a B&B. From the welcoming glass of wine as we checked in through our five-course breakfast the next morning, it was a great place to visit. Jim, the Executive Director of the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, was doubling as innkeeper that night, and gave us private tour of the lighthouse after sunset. The lighthouse restoration is perfect, as was the restoration of the Head Keeper's house where we stayed. It is beautifully furnished, and this was one of the most memorable B&B stays we have enjoyed anywhere. Who knew that a lens could be so beautiful!

  • Liked — Beautiful, historic setting
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank deigolf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Point Cabrillo Light Station

Property: Point Cabrillo Light Station
Address: 45300 Litehouse Rd, Mendocino, CA 95460-9736 (Formerly Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo)
Location: United States > California > Mendocino County > Mendocino
Amenities:
Free Parking Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 25 B&Bs / Inns in Mendocino
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stay on the Mendocino coast in one of our vacation rental homes. We have two of the original Lightkeepers' houses and two cottages available for overnight stays. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Lighthouse Inn At Point Cabrillo Hotel Mendocino

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