Stroll Through a Shimmering Wonderland by the Sea

The beloved Festival of Lights will soon glimmer at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

What to Know

  • Festival of Lights at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
  • Nov. 26-Dec. 19, Fridays-Sundays from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • $10 timed tickets; advance purchase required

THE SHARKS... don't decorate the anemone with tiny twinkling bulbs, and seahorses aren't inclined to hang holly and garlands on any corals they happen to encounter. Finding a stretch of watery sand lined with luminarias or festooned with wreaths? Not going to happen. For aquatic critters don't, as a rule, gussy up their well-soaked surroundings with the atmospheric details so many humans like to see come December. But there is a place to savor those sparkling elements, just steps from where the sharks, seahorses, and other ocean animals live and play: At the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, that charming "Garden by the Sea."

THE DESTINATION'S CATCHY NICKNAME... is quite accurate, given its ocean-close address. And you don't need to peer too hard to see that some of its plants, and pathways, almost boast an under-the-waves vibe. But the magic truly begins to bubble to the surface when the end of November arrives and the annual Festival of Lights again offers glitter and glow. The outdoor, under-the-stars saunter-around will shimmer again starting on Nov. 26, 2021, but you'll want to keep in mind a couple of things. The fest is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and the hours of the early-evening-ish variety, from 5 to 7 o'clock. The final date for this run? It's Sunday, Dec. 19.

MERRY MENDOCINO: Of course, a visit to the gardens means you'll also be calling upon one of our state's most charming hamlets during the holidays. Mendocino, and a host of quaint communities in the area, is known for its cozy inns, gourmet meals, and vivacious vinos. Oh yes, and a pinch up the road, in Fort Bragg? It's the Skunk Train, a choo-choo that boasts an ultra-festive yuletide vibe.

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