Mendocino travel diary

If you don't live in Northern California, chances are you haven't heard of Mendocino. It's tiny—population 894—on the coast, and a three-hour drive from San Francisco. But this adorable little town is also an artists' colony, and has some of the most spectacular views along the west coast. There are also quite a few small inns and B&Bs, so it's a great place for a long-weekend getaway. The whole vibe feels very New England, and my boyfriend and I remarked that we felt like we were in an episode of Murder She Wrote all weekend—turns out, a bunch of episodes were actually filmed there! Thankfully, however, no actual murders took place during our trip.

Getting there
The easiest way to get to Mendocino is to drive there, taking the 101 north to the 128 west. (The closest airport is in Santa Rosa, which is still about a two-hour drive.) If you have a bunch of time, however—like 8 hours' worth of time—take the 1 north along the coast. Some awesome places to stop: Point Reyes, Marshall, Jenner, Timber Cove, and Sea Ranch. There are redwoods galore all along the way!

Where to stay
B&Bs and small inns are the way to go. There are some more luxurious properties a little outside of town—the Heritage House resort in Little River came highly recommended—but we wanted to be able to walk around the town, so we went with the Blue Door Inn, which is actually comprised of several different buildings around the town. We were in the Water Tower, which, yes, was actually a water tower! It was the perfect size for the two of us, with a comfy bed and couch, plus a gas fireplace. My favorite part, though, was the breakfast every morning, which came delivered to our door in a picnic basket with little glass jars!

What to do
With coastline on one side and forest all around, the most obvious thing to do is to go for a hike. There's a state park right in town, with a bunch of trails that wind along the coast. Just to the south of town is the Big River Beach, although it wasn't quite warm enough to go there.

Just north of town is the Russian Gulch state park. Thanks to a tip from a friendly fellow at the pizza place, we parked by the community center on route 409 and took a pretty easy trail to a waterfall. I am not an outdoorsy person (except where drinking wine is concerned) and found this trail totally doable—plus, it was worth it for this view.

I'd recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens just north of town—you'd think it's a little thing where you could spend an hour or so, but it extends all the way to the coast and has a bunch of trails, so even if you aren't into flowers or plants, there's plenty to see and do. (We managed to squeeze in a photo shoot too!)

If you're in the mood for wine tasting, there are also a bunch of wineries along route 128—most are a 45- to 60-minute drive from the town, but if you like pinots, it's well worth the trip. The vibe is like Napa or Sonoma 10 years ago—way more relaxed and friendly, and the wines are just as good! We visited Roderer Estate for bubbles and Greenwood Ridge, whose building was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protegé. I'd highly recommend both places, as well as Phillips Hill, which I had visited on a previous trip.

Where to eat
One of the most highly recommended places was Patterson's Pub, and I will say, we had some incredible shellfish and great beer there. For Italian, Luna Trattoria is the way to go (have their homemade pasta), and for pizza, we loved the very popular Piaci Pizzeria in Fort Bragg. To refuel while wine tasting, Stone & Embers is the place to go—the pizza is great, but the little gems salad is even better. For a more fine dining experience, we loved Trillium Café, which was right around the corner from our water tower. But no trip to Mendocino is complete without a stop at Dick's Place, the local dive bar that according to one of our wine-pourers, the locals hilariously call El Ricardo del Mar.

What else
I was not expecting Mendocino to have such beautiful flowers, but everywhere you looked, there were wildflowers and verdant gardens. And these crazy purple flowers were everywhere—bonus points to anyone who knows what they were called (I have no idea!). As for what not do to, there's a place called Glass Beach in Fort Bragg that everyone recommended. Although there was indeed a lot of beach glass, it was super crowded and apparently the glass came from a garbage dump nearby, which is just kind of ewww.

P.S. All photos in this post (as with all of my posts) were taken by the incredibly talented Pictures of Loud Noises


Unknown said...

These photos are so beautiful, I love getting away somewhere secluded and relaxing!

Carrie said...

I would just love to stay at a B&B in this cozy little down. I have never been to CA, but want to go someday soon. I've never seen a redwood either!


Straight A Style said...

What lovely photos! Looks like it was a great trip.

Amy Ann
Straight A Style

Claire Justine said...

Oh wow, Cheryl. It looks beautiful here. I would love to be here right now and see these beautiful views :) Thanks for sharing at Welcome To The #Weekendbloghop

Grace Liang said...

Being the travel enthusiast I am, your pictures were breathtaking.

Please stop by at every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for linkup parties! Hope to see you there!

Grace Liang

Jane Clifford | Typically Jane said...

OMG that blue door inn is the CUTEST ever! I want to go and stay there!

Elizabeth Ramsey said...

Just beautiful! Need to add to my "to-visit" list. The photos are stunning.

passion fruit, paws and peonies said...

How gorgeous! I love get-a-ways like this. Relaxing, pretty and great food. Perfect! xx