Mendocino is a beautiful seaside town brimming with character and a culture all its own. A weekend away will slow down your busy life for a bit and allow you to enjoy the simple and finer things in life. It’s close enough to the Bay Area that you can do a quick road trip, but it’s far enough away to feel like you are far from city life. The temperatures are cool and foggy year round, but on lucky days you can catch some sun rays.
Little River Inn – This charming Inn has plenty of lodging options to fit your needs and there are ocean views from every room! You can’t beat the location and they even have a trail that leads from the Inn down to nearby Van Damme State Park and Van Damme Beach. We opted to stay in Rosie’s Cottage which was perfect for our family of four and is also dog friendly. We all enjoyed the private hot tub and sunset views! Little River Inn also has an award-winning onsite restaurant serving breakfast and dinner 7 days a week, it’s a must try.
Brewery Gulch Inn– Mendocino is an amazing place to get away for some R&R and Brewery Gulch Inn is the cherry on top. The Inn incorporates a contemporary Arts and Crafts style with large windows that look out to the ocean. Your stay includes a daily breakfast and wine/food hour with fresh locally-sourced, organic ingredients. They also have snacks and beverages available throughout the day so you are always taken care of. Their attention to detail and exceptional service completes a perfect experience of relaxation. We love their porch overlooking the ocean, great room with fireplace, and beautiful pond on the property.
Heritage House – For luxurious oceanside accommodations on an amazing coastline, check out Heritage House. The rooms are beautiful with gorgeous coastal views, but the vibe is relaxed and California casual. We enjoyed wandering the grounds every morning and even sighted some seals. We brought along the whole family for this trip as it is baby and dog friendly. We were provided a crib upon request and our dog enjoyed her morning walks. It’s not far from town, but if you’d like to stay put they have a restaurant and bar on property. This is the type of place where you’ll want to spend some time with a glass of wine and a good book on the porch.
Mendocino Grove – If you’re looking to stay somewhere a little “closer” to nature, Mendocino Grove is the perfect in between with their amazing “glamping” canvas tents. Choose from a variety of tent set ups and sizes depending on how many people you have and if you prefer an ocean breeze or a to be surrounded by trees. They have hot showers, clean bathrooms, real beds, heated blankets, fire pits, hammocks, bbq grills, and basically anything you could possibly desire at a camp ground. This is a great choice for couples, families, or friends who have varying degrees of comfort since its a little of both comfort and roughing it all in one. They are also dog friendly!
Glendeven Inn & Lodge – This quaint and picturesque inn is perfect for an adults-only Mendocino getaway. Although we didn’t get to stay here we visited their grounds and loved meeting the resident chickens and llamas! Glendeven is home to three llamas that traveled to the Mendocino Coast with owners John and Mike from their mountain home in Southern California when they bought Glendeven Inn in 2007. Guests here can enjoy spending time with the llamas at their leisure. We were lucky enough to go during feeding time! If you stay at the Inn you can expect a hot breakfast delivered every morning and wine and light hors d’oeuvres in the evening in addition to many other amenities to make your stay a memorable one.
Café Beaujolais – This gem of a restaurant has been a Mendocino staple for years. It’s darling and quaint, with a quintessential Victorian vibe. We absolutely loved every dish we tried, from the fresh Salmon to the Liberty Duck Breast. Pair it with a glass of wine and enjoy a meal overlooking the garden. Although it may be tough, try to save some room for their mouth-watering desserts.
Cowlick’s Ice Cream – What’s a weekend getaway without some ice cream? You can visit Cowlick’s Ice Cream shop in Fort Bragg which is a short drive from Mendocino or find some of their ice cream in a couple of different shops along the Mendocino Coastal area. They are a well known establishment in the area that frequently has lines out the door rain or shine. They make all their ice cream by hand in small batches with the best ingredients possible. Try some of their regular flavors like Candy Cap Mushroom, or opt for one of their seasonal flavors. Make it a Sundae like we did-you won’t regret it!
Noyo Harbor Inn – We hopped on over to the nearby town, Fort Bragg and visited this newly remodeled Inn for brunch with an amazing river view. Their brunch menu has both lunch and breakfast items to appease everyone’s appetite. Everything was tasty, but we can’t stop thinking about their clam chowder. It was some of the best we’ve ever had!
The Ravens at Stanford Inn – The Ravens prides itself in being real organic cuisine. They have an all vegan menu with ingredients locally and organically sourced from regional farmers in the area. They have won many awards for their food and is a perfect place to unwind after a full day of visiting the area. They are open for breakfast and dinner and offer a pre-order lunch on the go menu as well. Request a dog friendly table and bring the pup along too.
Frankies – This cute pizza joint is great for the whole family. Their pies are superb and filling. Best enjoyed on their dog friendly porch! Save room for some ice cream after your meal.
Little River Inn – In addition to their Inn, Little River Inn also houses an amazing award-winning restaurant. If you are staying at the Inn you can have your meals delivered to your room or dine in restaurant. Every dish here was so delicious so you can’t go wrong. Some of our favorites were the Clam Chowder (some of the best!) and the Cioppino. They have a newly added outdoor dining area that is perfect year round.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens – This Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful and diverse gardens we have seen. With 47 acres spanning all the way to the ocean, there are miles of trails you can walk through with a large variety of vegetation. The Garden was founded in 1961 and has been carefully and lovingly cared for over the years. Because of the mild coastal weather and ample water supply, many types of plants flourish in the gardens. Some noteworthy ones include their famous Rhododendrons, the Fern trail, succulent garden, rose garden, dahlia garden, and their closed-cone pine forest. Be prepared to spend hours wandering and admiring the beauty you’ll encounter at every turn.
Glass Beach – A must see when visiting Mendocino. This popular beach is located in Fort Bragg, just a short drive away. It’s named after all of the pieces of sea glass that can be found mixed in with the beach sand and pebbles. In the early 1900’s the town had a dump site where many glass containers were discarded. This trash was dumped into the ocean and after many years still remains on the beaches.
Skunk Train– This train has chugged through the redwood forests of Northern California since 1885. It first served as transporting families and workers who set up the various logging camps along the route. Now it provides passengers (dogs too!) a chance to take a step back in time and enjoy the beautiful forest of the Mendocino County. They recently started their new Rail Bikes where you can “ride a bike” on these historic rails!
Maple Creek Winery – is located in Anderson Valley and opened by winemaker Tom Rodrigues who is also well-known for glass art and paintings. Many of his wines are award winning and he draws all his own wine labels. This is a perfect place for a pit stop on your way to Mendocino to enjoy some good wine, relax in the garden, and view some of his artwork displayed in the tasting room.
Big River Beach – Big River Beach is part of a 7,400-acre wildlife corridor at
Mendocino Headlands State Park. It is easily accessible from Highway 1 and is a great place to picnic, sun bathe, or play in the water. This beach is great for families and dogs since the water is calm and there is plenty of sand for all the play in!
Russian Gulch State Park – Just two miles north of Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park is a great place to spend the day (or night if you want to camp!). It has 15 miles of trails, with a satisfying mix of shady forest and open coastal hikes. The park’s beaches, coves, and tide pools are great for a variety of water activities. The kids loved playing on the beach underneath the picturesque Russian Gulch Bridge.