It’s one of my favorite destinations in Northern California for a weekend getaway. Mendocino, California is idyllic, it’s slow in all the right ways, and connected with nature unlike anywhere else. Over the past five years, I’ve made the journey to this coastal town three hours north of San Francisco a handful of times. I return feeling at ease, more grounded than ever.
I think a large part of why I’m always drawn back to Mendocino is its “sauvage” character. The rough waters of the Pacific splash on the headland shores. Whales are often spotted in the distance and birds dive into the waters just in front. Behind you, redwood forests, dense and mysterious tower over the coastline with just enough fog to remind you that you are indeed in Northern California.
In the center of town, an artist’s haven. Studios, charming boutiques, and quirky architecture line the streets. There is a bit of something for everyone here. So when my mind starts to drift away and crave an escape, I’m always pulled towards this part of California. Since it has been almost four years since the last guide, I thought it was time to write a new guide with my favorites. Here’s a look at how to spend a weekend in Mendocino, California.
A Weekend Guide to Mendocino, California
Best Hotels in Mendocino, California
- Glendeven Inn & Lodge
- This is one of those hidden gems right before you get into Mendocino. The adults-only hotel sits on a property with ocean views and llamas roam freely. Every morning a hotel breakfast is delivered right to your room!
- Brewery Gulch Inn
- For an upscale stay near the town of Mendocino, Brewery Gulch Inn is it. This small, boutique hotel has 10 rooms, each carefully decorated and outfitted with cozy furnishings. I love that the hotel is set back off the highway, so you feel very secluded and in nature.
- Little River Inn
- For those who want a bigger, family-friendly hotel, The Little River Inn has stunning and spacious rooms. A bit further from town but close enough, this iconic Mendocino hotel has been here for a long time. I love how much light each of the rooms gets!
- Mendocino Grove Glamping
- One of my favorite experiences I’ve done in Northern California was glamping at Mendocino Grove. These luxurious tents are adorable! Clean communal bathrooms and nightly dinners (extra), makes it feel like camping without the fuss.
Browse more Mendocino hotels here:
Restaurants in Mendocino, California
- The bar at Little River Inn: I love sitting at the bar here to catch the sunset over the ocean. The food is delicious (you can eat in the restaurant) and they have a great cocktail menu.
- Trillium Cafe: Inside a historic home in Mendocino, they have a lovely patio and interior to dine in. Fresh local food and classics like a roast baby beet salad are always a win. *Reserve
- Wild Fish: Set along the ocean, this is all things seafood. Book a corner table here for the best view!
- Patterson’s Pub: For a more casual meal, head to the town pub for fish&chips and other classics.
- Flow Restaurant: Certainly the best view in town for dinner, head here for great drinks and outdoor dining.
- Mendocino Cafe: A classic for a good bite with a patio.
- Café Beaujolais: Opened since 1977, this upscale is a must reserve right in town for French classics like steak tartar and seafood linguini.
Things to Do in Mendocino, California
Rent an outrigger at Catch-a-Canoe: I’ve done this multiple times and it’s a must every time I visit Mendocino. I love taking an outrigger up the river and spending half a day exploring. Wildlife like seals and otters can be spotted as well!
Hike in Russian Gulch State Park: I’d take a picnic lunch here and hang for the day. You can hike along the trails or go down to the beach. Plus the view back over the bridge is stunning!
See the Van Damme State Park headlands: Head to the Cobbler’s Walk near the Inn at the Cobbler’s Walk, to explore along the ocean.
Visit Glass Beach: Not too far north is the famous Glass Beach and perfect for a good sunny afternoon.
Explore the Mendocino Botanical Gardens: With a headlands walk and cafe, you can head here to see 45 acres of landscaped and wild gardens.
Stop by Honey & Ro: My personal favorite shop in Mendocino for all home goods.
Explore Fort Bragg: Head to the seaside town to explore local boutiques and grab lunch at Princess Seafood.
Ride through the Redwoods on the Railbikes: The Skunk Train offers one incredible experience to ride through the Redwoods via their railbikes. You’ll work your way through, getting to soak it all in while riding a bike.