Clay planned a weekend getaway for us to Safari West in Santa Rosa (which I never knew existed before). Our weekend consisted of a one-night stay in one of their giant African safari tents, as well as an in-room massage and an afternoon safari tour. I must admit, this glamping experience was quite pricy. Clay and I also had mixed feelings seeing some of the animals being kept in cages when we first arrived. However, we ended up really enjoying the safari tour, which helped us to change our minds about our initial reservations. Our 4-hour tour was extremely informative and allowed us to learn so much about each animal that we saw. We learned about how Safari West cares for its animals by practicing enrichment, which involves changing the animal's physical environment on a daily basis. We were able to see how the animals (whether it be monkey, rhino, or ostrich) really did have a good relationship with their caretakers. Some benefits the animals at Safari West get are: ample food and shelter, safety from predators, and breeding opportunities. Overall, it was neat to see how Safari West promotes wildlife conservation, research, and public education. It also gives those who love animals the opportunity to work closely with them. Pretty much all the employees we met there were genuinely excited and passionate about their work with the wildlife.
During our trip, we were also able to visit downtown Santa Rosa for a couple of meals, and were surprised by how hip the restaurants and coffee shops there were! Bird & the Bottle, where we went for brunch, served us a delicious Asian fusion dish. We also found out that Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz! We saw several statues of different Peanuts characters scattered throughout downtown -- apparently, there are 70 statues in public view that one could spend an entire weekend looking for in Santa Rosa!
Back in April, Clay and I managed to book the last campsite available at Mendocino Grove, a campground offering a modern camping experience. I had been wanting to plan a trip to the Mendocino and Fort Bragg area for a while now, so I was really excited that we could try out glamping for the first time while we were at it!
When we arrived Saturday afternoon, the self check-in was very straight forward. It was basically just a bulletin board with general campground information (e.g., wifi usage, breakfast hours) and a map with our name on it indicating where our designated parking spot and campsite was. Our safari tent (Navarro 2) was in its own little corner a fair distance away from the other two neighboring tents. Right outside our tent, we had our own picnic table, a set of chairs on the deck, and a fire pit. (Firewood was available self-serve at the campground for about $10 or so.) Inside the tent, there was a comfortable bed, a couple of dressers that served as night stands, a large lantern, a couple of extra blankets, and an awesome s'mores kit! We enjoyed the s'mores kit very much on our last night :)
Even though we still prefer camping and pitching up our own tents, we had a really nice experience during our stay at the Mendocino Grove...and we would happily do it again! Packing was SUPER easy and convenient. Next time, I'd probably bring more layers, a warmer jacket, a beanie, and my own water bladder. The campground was very thoughtful and actually had a couple wooden crates of water bladders for campers to use, but unfortunately it wasn't enough for everyone...so we didn't get to use one. There were also no outlets inside the safari tents, so I'd suggest bringing a portable charger. Though I believe the campground also has chargers available for checkout.
Overall, everything about the campground was pretty wonderful! The bathrooms were very new, clean, and well-maintained. There were outlets in there, so I was thankfully, able to use my hair dryer (didn't want to risk catching a cold!). They provided plenty of organic bath products and fresh towels for showering and for face-washing. The shower experience was for sure the best that I've had at a campground. In addition, just around the bathhouse, there was an area where they served drinks (coffee, hot water, & tea), as well as breakfast (fresh fruits, yogurt, & bars). Another amenity that Clay and I enjoyed were their giant hammocks spread out in the middle of the grove and campground. Now, just a couple more notes: 1) I would personally recommend booking for the summertime for warmer, more camping-friendly weather, especially since the campground is located near the coast. 2) Mendocino Grove is very family and dog-friendly; they have different safari tents that accommodate both groups! They also have Airstream options available for rent.
Finally, one of the best parts of our glamping experience was having the small coastal town of Mendocino be just a 5-minute drive away. Fort Bragg, a larger city along the coast, is also not too far away - just a quick and scenic 20-minute drive up north. If you're wondering what other activities there are to do or places to go eat, feel free to ask me. I have a whole list that I compiled!
Just capturing as I go.