Magazine article Sunset

Day Trip Ukiah

Magazine article Sunset

Day Trip Ukiah

Article excerpt

Inside wine country meals we love [much greater than] A secret Sierra lake [much greater than] Outsmart the weekend crowds in Santa Barbara [much greater than]

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Why go now: Autumn in this throwback burg explodes with foliage that rivals Vermont's. Think small: Ukiah--population 16,000--may be the largest city in Mendocino County (and in neighboring Lake County for that matter), but the place is as small-town as it gets. That it has: 19th-century architecture, charming tree-lined neighborhoods, and a laid-back vibe. What it doesn't have; The bustling feel of its wine country neighbors. Change is afoot: This month, the 10,500-square-foot epicurean marketplace Branches (118o Airport Park Blvd.; branches restaurant.com) hits town, with a bakery, pub, steakhouse, and butcher shop. Why here? Owner Munther Massarweh calls Ukiah "a diamond in the rough." Bumper crops: Bartlett pears and (unofficially) marijuana. Drink a pint: At Ukiah Brewing Company ($; 102 S. State St.; 707/468-5898), the nation's first certified organic brewpub, where cowboys and farmers clink glasses with lawyers and police officers. Best way to bone up before your visit: "Ukiah," a song on the Doobie Brothers' 1973 album, The Captain and Me.

1. Hike a hidden redwood grove

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve's 2,700 acres are virtually unknown to nonlocals. But this is one of the best places around to take in the quiet of a coastal redwood forest. A 3-mile round-trip trail follows Montgomery Creek to groves that have never been logged. On Orr Springs Rd, 15 miles northwest of Ukiah; parks.ca.gov or 707/937-5804.

2. Soak 3 ways

Naturally carbonated 90[degrees] water as effervescent as Champagne bubbles up into the indoor and outdoor mineral baths at Vichy Springs Resort. …

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