Whale Watch: Mendo Fetes the Big Mammals

Mendocino, Little River, and Fort Bragg pay tribute to the gentle giants.

PROGRESSIVE WHALE-WATCHING PARTY: Wintertime, at least late wintertime, is not the biggest time of year for progressive dinner parties. Surely you've been to one, or know someone who has: You start at the first host's apartment, for drinks, and then progressively visit other homes during the evening for salad, dinner, dessert, and so forth. It's a convivial concept, but one most often seen during the holidays (though summer block parties and neighborhood barbecues frequently run with the idea as well). But March? We're not sure if there is a dearth of to-dos focusing on the several-host event, but we're more likely to hear of St. Patrick's parades and spring break. Oh yes, and whales, at least if you live along the California coast. Those migrating mammals are late-winter favorites of those who own binoculars and those who stand atop bluffs hoping to catch quick sight of a fluke, binocs or not. But how to apply the progressive party notion to those giants who are just passing by our coastal towns? You go the Mendocino County route, of course, and you schedule three distinct whale-themed weekends in three ocean-snug burgs over a good chunk of the third month of the year. The whale-watcher of a wingding kicks off in Mendocino on...

MARCH 7 AND 8... and then moves onto Little River the next weekend and then Fort Bragg the weekend after that. It's truly a progressive party made for nature mavens, and there are plenty of courses to enjoy (including some that are actually food). Look for whale-watch walks led by docents, wildlife exhibits, pirate tales, local wine and appetizer tastings, chowder tastings, beer tastings, sea cave tours (by kayak, fun fun), boat tours, and lighthouse love. Each town puts their own spin on the whale festival theme, so look for distinct happenings in each. We mean, that's how a progressive dinner party goes, right? Each hostess wants to do something a little different. Same with Mendocino, Little River, and Fort Bragg. The world of whales is definitely broad enough that three full weekends in three different places can offer plenty for the whaleans among us. And we're all whaleans at heart, whether we keep watch atop bluffs or simply support our blowhole-y brethren, wherever they, and we, happen to be.

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