Mendocino, California is a small coastal community in northern California, just under 4 hours from San Francisco and 3 hours from Napa, making it a great overnight trip from both destinations. But with plenty to do, Mendocino is also becoming a destination of its own right, somewhere you can definitely spend a few days or a week exploring.
Wake up next to the ocean. Is there really a better view than the ocean from your bedroom window? At Little River Inn in Mendocino, California you can do just that. They offer ocean view rooms and luxury suites, so you can start and end the day with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.
Talk a walk down to the beach and spend the afternoon hunting for sea glass or discovering sea life in tide pools. With golf and tennis right on site, you can be active as you like and then enjoy the sunset from your deck with a glass of wine before enjoying dinner at their restaurant. Starting off with their classic clam “steamers” is an absolute must, but whether you continue to go for gold with Billionaire’s Bacon Sliders or pan -seared scallops over cous cous is up to you.
Tip: Reservations are highly recommended as they produce such good eats that it’s often filled with locals every night of the week!
Canoe down the Big River Estuary. If you’ve ever wanted to spend some time relaxing on the river, Catch a Canoe offers the perfect opportunity. They provide locally handcrafted outrigger canoes for a peaceful and relaxing tour down the second-longest estuary in California.
Take a vacation with your beloved pet. If you’ve been itching to go on a pet-friendly vacation, Mendocino offers the perfect destination. Many attractions in the area are pet-friendly – the canoes at Catch a Canoe were even designed to include Fido in your afternoon – and there’s plenty of walking trails and picnic areas for playing catch. Little River Inn also offers several pet-friendly accommodation options, leaving no need for stress in planning a trip with your favorite four-legged friend.
Go birding at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. If you’ve ever wanted to go birding, the monthly birdwalk held at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is a great place to start. The 47 acre garden is home to over 187 species of birds, including hummingbirds, white crowned sparrows, ospreys, ravens and more. (Also a pet friendly destination!)
See Redwood Trees. If you’ve never seen a redwood tree before, you can do so near Mendocino at the Hendy Woods State Park. There you can see two groves of redwood trees, some of which are 300 feet tall and 1,000 years old.
See a blowhole. For those up for a short hike, check out the Little River Blowhole Trail. The hike is short and the view is spectacular!
Go on a train ride. The Skunk Train offers several scenic routes near Mendocino. The hour-long Pudding Creek Express travels down some of the first tracks done by the California Western Railroad in 1885 on it’s seven-mile journey. The longer, 4 hour Northspur Flyer takes you through Noyo River Canyon and allows time to get off and embrace the mountain air.
Go trekking with llamas. Okay, this one probably isn’t on your bucket list yet but it should be! Lodging & Llamas offers several different llama treks, including one with an ocean view and one with redwoods and a waterfall. The ocean bluff trek is kid-friendly. The packed lunch includes wine and snacks, like fruit and veggies, cheese, baguettes, and more. You can also upgrade to a full lunch with a menu. But, let’s be real – the real treat here is the llama companions.
Drive through a tree. Redwoods are, of course, famed for their size and beauty. What’s the next best thing to finally seeing one in person? Driving through one! You can do that at the privately-owned Drive-Thru Tree Park. Stop and take a picture of your car in the tree. Touristy but fun!
Visit Glass Beach. Glass Beach was originally the dumping site for Fort Bragg. Today, it’s a beach filled with beautiful glass pieces, like ruby red sea glass from the auto tail lights or sapphire from apothecary bottles. This is one of the least remaining glass beaches in the United States, as the others have been scavenged to the point of distinction so while it’s fun to search for the rare pieces of colorful glass or take a few photos, it’s recommended to leave the glass on the beach so that it remains a true glass beach for future generations.
Whether you visit Mendocino as an overnight trip from other parts of California or make it your sole destination, you’ll never run out of things to do in this beautiful coastal town.
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