My wife and I were in need of a bit of tranquillity in October, so we headed to the Mendocino Coast in Northern California for a weekend of standup paddle boarding. The coast's rugged beauty, flat-water rivers and scenic headlands honeycombed with sea caves and archways make it ideal for paddling on your own or on a guided tour with Standup Paddle Mendocino (Van Damme Beach State Park, Little River, Calif.;  937-0700, http://www.standuppaddlemendocino.com. Guided tours $60 to $75) The tab: $458, excluding fees and taxes, for two nights at the Alegria, $300 for meals, $60 for a stand-up paddleboard tour and $60 for three skeins of yarn.
The Alegria Oceanfront Inn & Cottages (44781 Main St., Mendocino;  937-5150, http://www.oceanfrontmagic.com) has specials for last-minute travelers and holidays as well as off-season rates that start at $229. The property consists of two guest rooms in the main house and four cozy cottages that blend with the rugged headlands and stunning coastline. Each room has a fireplace or wood-burning stove, and an organic breakfast is included. It's debatable which is closer, the beach or the village, both just a stone's throw.
There's nothing like indulging. Warm up at Moody's Organic Coffee Bar, Art Gallery & Internet Cafe (10450 Lansing St., Mendocino;  937-4843, http://www.moodyscoffeebar.com) and dive into its famous Mocha Moody Frappe ($3.95-$4.50). Later on, follow your nose to Frankie's Pizza & Ice Cream (44951 Ukiah St., Mendocino;  937-2436, http://www.frankiesmendocino.com) and do yourself a favor by ordering the Virgin Creek pizza smothered with homemade basil pesto, mozzarella, spinach, caramelized onions, cremini mushrooms and black olives (from $13.65).
My wife is an excellent knitter, so when she found Mendocino Yarn Shop, I scored because it means I get a newly knitted beanie (45050 Albion St., Mendocino;  937-0921, http://www.mendocinoyarnshop.com). She told me to choose the colors I wanted, and by the end of the day I had my umpteenth knitted hat.
The lesson learned
We weren't entirely prepared for Mendocino's weather fluctuations. We experienced a bit of everything, and a couple of times we were caught off-guard. One afternoon it was sunny and warm, and within 15 minutes a dense fog blew in. Bring plenty of layers and be prepared for rain, wind, sunshine and fog.