Friday, April 29, 2016

Point Arena Lighthouse: History, landscape, sea life and a guest house to stay over

The Point Arena Lighthouse has history dating back to 1870 when the original lighthouse was erected.
Point Arena's lighthouse also includes a charming gift shop
with handmade aquatic-life magnets. And you can sleep over.



PEOPLE COME from cross-country and overseas to visit the historic Point Arena Lighthouse in California's picturesque Mendocino County.
The view from the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse is spectacular.
They climb gamely up the 1870 landmark -- stopping to rest and admire the view at the four convenient landings.  Then they browse the gift shop and study the museum's unique contents.  With luck, they catch a glimpse of a passing pod of dolphin or a transiting whale. We had such good fortune on a recent visit, one of many we've made through years of driving from our southern California winter base to Mendocino County.
LIKE MANY small coastal towns, Point Arena is proud of its place in California's history and landscape. On the north end of the town is the historic lighthouse.  At the other is a pier where you'll see fishermen haul in today's catch, stopping for a bowl of chowder or tasty fresh fish and chips (and an impressive collection of beer and ale.)
A gift shop browser narrows her choice
from a selection of marine life magnets.
This tiny fishing town is built around a small harbor and offers fun shops and a great restaurant called Uneda Eat (serving fresh fish, meat and produce grown on nearby Purple Martin Farm.)
POINT ARENA'S main street is located on the always alluring Highway One, California's coastal artery. The user-friendly village sports some buildings in need of repair. But other restored vintage homes and offices reflect pride of ownership.  It's a comfortably walkable little place where you'll be welcome in the neatly kept library. There we were invited to use our laptops to meet a story deadline.  We appreciate the pleasant, quiet environment.  Locals strolled in to check out the latest best-sellers and use the computers.
THE TOWN also has a historic theater, a pleasant city park, well used bike path and those eye-catching Victorian and  Queen Anne buildings.
A beautiful French lens is a highlight of the Point Arena Lighthouse museum.
If your schedule permits, consider staying over. Point Arena has several interesting options. We were based with relatives on a nearby farm, but we're looking at the Lighthouse as a possible family reunion site. Enterprising lighthouse director Mark Hancock is developing guest houses from buildings no longer needed for staff in this computer age.
One of the pleasantly decorated cottages is pet friendly, noted by us with enthusiasm!
In its day, the Point Arena Lighthouse was manned 24 hours
a day by a revolving staff.  Today, their homes are being
converted into attractive guest houses on the coast. 
THE SHINING star is the lighthouse itself, and the fascinating small museum.  A Fresnel lens (pronounced "Fre-nel," with a silent "s") has a prominent place. The lens, named after its inventor, was retired more than 20 years ago, but remains an attraction because of its superb craftsmanship and ability to concentrate light into a powerful beam. Its glass lenses bend and amplify the light source giving ships at sea better light for coastal navigation. "Far out," as we said in the 1960s and '70s.
Our guide gave detailed descriptions of the lens, along with lively lighthouse history. He recounted the damage wrought by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sent ripples 130 miles north to Point Arena, and beyond.
POINT ARENA is a treasure trove of the unexpected.  Don't miss the B Bryan Preserve with its amazing array of African hoof stock, including endangered zebra, giraffe and antelope. How wonderful to see these magnificent animals in large, open fields.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
offers an intimate and well orchestrated look at the life,
times, challenges and accomplishments of the 40th President.

UP NEXT: Even those who did not vote for Ronald Reagan admit to being charmed by his gregarious nature, his genuine people skills, his diplomatic acumen and his rise from college football star to Hollywood actor, to California governor then President of the United States. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on a lovely 100-acre site in Simi Valley brings the 40th President back to life in beautifully designed displays and hands-on exhibits.  We take it in, including a chunk of the Berlin Wall he helped bring down -- and the Air Force One he traveled in. Remember to explore, learn and live. Catch us Fridays when we post for each weekend.


  1. Austin adventurersApril 29, 2016 at 5:50 PM

    We had art studios here in the 1960s, and have nurtured fond memories of Point Arena and the California coast. Now, a jump start to return from Austin to our old stomping grounds.

  2. I love the little coastal Villages. Authentic. Uneda Eat a favorite stop.

  3. Lighthouse loversMay 1, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    We often spend a week traveling from San Jose north. Now we have booked ine of the cottages by the lighthouse. Looking forward.

  4. Encinitas EnthusiastsMay 6, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    That lead-in photo is a postcard. Thanks for sharing. We plan to stay in one of the cottages next spring on our trek to Seattle.