A few hours north of San Francisco, through the redwoods, lies the gorgeously dramatic landscape and arty enclave that is the quaint coastal community of Mendocino. Read on to learn all about my epic adventure there and plan yours!
Mendocino is a photographer’s paradise!!!
This historical landmark situated on the Pacific Ocean coastline is filled with sea caves, marvelous cliffs, lush foliage, secluded beaches and giant redwoods. There’s breathtaking beauty in every single direction you can possibly look!
Special thanks to my professional photographer +1 gal pal rockstar, Shelly Waldman.
The area is also known for its bountiful wine production, microbrews and cannabis.
Where I Stayed in Mendocino
Brewery Gulch Inn
The intimate Brewery Gulch Inn sits on a windswept bluff-top overlooking Smuggler's Cove, offering guests a plethora of spectacular ocean views.
The Inn is entirely built from old growth eco-salvaged redwoods. The warm, cozy and intimate inn has the feel of a bead & breakfast. With only 10-rooms all housed under a single roof, it’s as if your returning to a charming home you never realized you had left.
I was treated like family from the moment I walked in. Arriving past midnight, the staff had saved me a generous portion of dinner, waiting for me in my room (thank you! I ate every delectable bite :)).
The heart and soul of Brewery Gulch Inn is the Great Room, a large comfy living room that’s the gathering spot for guests. With a grand fireplace and ocean views, a library of books, an extensive DVD and board game collection, and big leather chairs and couches. Any time of a day there’s yummy nibbles out here to enjoy and where the meals are served.
Their seasonal menu has an emphasis on locally sourced, organic produce and you can taste the quality! Breakfast is a la carte and every evening at 5pm there’s a lovely light dinner buffet featuring local wines and craft beers. All the guests gather in the Great Room to eat and we left with a handful of new friends.
The proprietor, Guy Pacurar, sat with us our last day to do a Fathers + Daughters Cellars tasting, a wine label he began with his family in 2012. Inspired by his daughter and part of a multi-generational effort, they’re handcrafted wines from the Anderson Valley’s Ferrington Vineyard inspired by his daughter, Ella. They produce 7 different wines and we had the pleasure of trying 3: the rose, sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir. Guy shared with us the story of how he came to take over Brewery Gulch in in 2007.
Guy’s love of the land, the local community and the Inn are infectious. As we looked over the extraordinary view of Pacific Ocean shortly before sunset, he told us that the hardest thing to do is convey the feeling that people have when they’re here! There’s truly a magical feeling to this place and hopefully some of the images I’ve shared can help capture what my words cannot.
After 2 wonderful nights at Brewery Gulch in we relocated to Little River Inn.
Little River Inn
Little River Inn is an 1853 white-with-green-trim luxurious beauty regally set on a curve of the Mendocino coastline. This Victoria Inn is full on a resort equipped with a golf course, tennis course, landscaped gardens and a day spa for all your pampering needs. I got a wonderful massage here! And for all you pet-lovers it’s dog friendly too.
Our room was huge, with a fireplace, a Jacuzzi tub, and a porch with epic views of Van Damme State Beach. It felt like our very own comfortable and luxurious cottage on the edge of the pacific.
This classic coastal resort with spectacular ocean views is an impressive estate that can’t be missed as you drive by it.
We enjoyed a multi-course local fare dinner at the Little River Inn restaurant. We were lucky to score a window table with magnificent views of the Pacific and dined on clam chowder, dungarees crab cakes, calamari and a wedge salad and enjoyed their extensive list of local wines. The staff is super attentive and friendly, welcoming us like family and treating us like royalty.
Breakfast is in the same spot and I scored a window table in the morning too! You definitely want to enjoy the service and food with these views.
What do to in Mendocino
Anywhere that has a coast has…waves!!! And yep I tried to score! I’ll be writing a separate blog post on surfing in Mendo! Stay stoked for it!
There’s a plethora of breathtaking trails to explore and beaches to go to. Our highlights, in alphabetical order, include:
Near For Brag, the name comes from its abundance of seas glass created from years of dumping garbage into the area. Doesn’t that so sexy that the glass is remnants from a former landfill but they’ve turned into smooth, colorful and pretty pieces.
347 acres (!!!) of undeveloped seaside bluffs with trails just outside of town. The trails go on for dayzzzzz with all sorts of rad arched rock formations jetting out of the ocean. Definitely worth checking out these breathtaking coastal views.
Located on 47 acres in Fort Bragg, California, United States between California's Highway One and the Pacific Ocean. The garden property includes canyons, wetlands, coastal bluffs, and a closed-cone pine forest.
Between Point Arena and Mendo, this historic lighthouse occupies a spectacular headland extending out to the Pacific.
A magical ride through the redwoods, running from the railroad's headquarters in the coastal town of Fort Bragg to the interchange with the Northwestern Pacific Railroad at Willits. This heritage railroad has been around since 1885.
And get this! They have a Skunk Train Railbikes option, which is what I did.
These two-person, pedal-powered vehicles will take you on a roughly one-and-a-half hour round trip along the Pudding Creek Estuary to Glen Blair Junction. We rode through redwood groves, over scenic trestle bridges ending at a spectacular tunnel. The tour guide is full of historic info on this peaceful, scenic journey and it was a blast!
Downtown Mendo is filled with super cute boutiques, a bookstore, a museum, galleries, a toyshop, chocolatier, and eateries. And… there’s not a single chain in town! I wish more downtowns where like this! The town is quant and charming and felt so familiar even though I’d never actually been before!
And I need to come back to eat my way through the town! We had most of our meals at our lovely accommodations. Next time!
Tips before you go
- Be prepared for Northern Cali Coastal weather! That means be sure to bring lots of layers and fog.
- Plan to visit some of the amazing wineries in the Anderson Valley on the way up or down. A local favorite is Maple Creek Winery.
- The closets domestic airport is in Sonoma Country. International visitors can fly into San Francisco or Oakland and be ready to rent a car. You’ll need it!
- I’m not personally a pet owner but did notice that all sorts of spots are very dog friendly for all your pet-owners out there!
- The Mendocino farmers market is on Friday’s and if you’re in town that day I def rec checking it out! There’s all sorts of local produce and meat and honey and other artisanal goodies. One of my very local farms that’s at the market is Nye Ranch.
This once logging and mill town has truly evolved into an enchanted arty enclave set on such a remarkable landscape.
I truly hope this post has encouraged yak to go to Mendocino. Have questions on planning your trip? Please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments below.
Special thanks to Heather Noll from Chalkboard Communications for organizing this epic adventure!!!
Have ya enjoyed this post? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below and if you're in Mendocino take a pic and tag it on Instagram with #wavesinthekitchen cause I'd love to see it! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more colorfully delicious food and all sorts of awesome adventures!
Let's make waves in the kitchen! Xxx.