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Welcome to Mendocino like you haven’t seen it before. So often it seems, Mendocino is considered an afterthought that lies somewhere between the trendier Point Reyes and old town of Fort Bragg.

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Not anymore.

Imagine rolling hills, sharp cliff edges that draw you in to have a look, spanish-moss-covered trees dying to be explored, winding trails through enchanting forests, and more bodies of water to be explored by boat. This is the Mendocino unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

From alluring inns and bed & breakfasts that give you a look into a slower way of life, to the rush of the ocean water across your feet on the beach, Mendocino has a way of reminding you about the truly important things in life.

To sit back, to be refreshed, and to be in the moment  — it is pure perfection.

Each place, whether food or housing, gives you this warm feeling, and it starts with the people. They genuinely care. They care about you, they care about what they are doing, and they are ever so passionate about what they do. Mendocino Village is filled with small shops, diners, pubs, and more, that are all fueled by a palpable sense of local pride.

Just footsteps away from some of the most diverse ecosystems in North America, Mendocino can also hold the keys to your outdoor adventure. From national parks that boast the greatest hiking trails around, to a river that beckons a day of canoeing, and not to mention the ocean that holds a wide of variety of ways to experience it — there is truly something for everyone.

Sarah Gerber of Twenty Twenty Studios and I, set out to immerse ourselves in this enchanting town with one mission in mind: discover the best experiences in food, wine, and adventure. We sought high and low, in every corner, craving a chance to capture the best a Mendocino seaside holiday has to offer.

Have a look at what we found….

The Coastal Holiday: A Mendocino Guide

How to get there

  • Mendocino is best reached by a car, as the journey there is what makes this destination special. From San Francisco, a short 3-hour drive up the US-101N then to the CA-128W will get you there in no time. The drive is an opportunity to be immersed in the countryside, the redwoods, and along the ocean — a drive worth a every minute.

Where to stay

  • Brewery Gulch Inn: Set amongst the redwoods, the Brewery Gulch Inn offers guests a charming setting along the Pacific Ocean. With a daily breakfast and a light dinner fare included, the Brewery Gulch is a place you could spend all of your time. The warm feel inside a rustic and intimate 10-room inn makes it the perfect Mendocino escape.
  • Little River Inn: The winding coastline backdrop at the Little River Inn is something you can’t pull your eyes away from. Charming, historic white buildings set into lush gardens and greenery, makes for a getaway into what Mendocino is best known for: natural beauty. With onsite amenities like a spa, golf course, and a phenomenal restaurant, the Little River Inn holds the key to your Mendocino adventure.

Where to eat

  • Trillium Cafe: You can come here for lunch or dinner, though I suggest both. With a view of the ocean, this restaurant set inside an old historic house, is serving up fine cuisine. Menu highlights include the roasted baby beet salad, caramelized onion and goat cheese tart, and local wild salmon.
  • Wild Fish: Yes, think the freshest seafood you can find on the coast plus a view, plus the most charming couple who owns this small, oceanside restaurant. The passion in the food can be spotted far away, local ingredients only, and the food will not disappoint. Any of the fish on the menu will do and be sure to get the semifreddo dessert.
  • Dinner at Little River Inn: With five-star Chef Marc Dym, it can be easy to see why having dinner at the Little River Inn is a must. His technique and talent is laid out on each plate in a creative way. One of my favorites was the beet salad and the osso bucco.
  • Patterson’s Pub: A local’s favorite for a good bite. The fish and chips are a great choice with a crisp beer.
  • Corners of the Mouth Natural Food Store: If you’re headed out for a hike, be sure to stop by this local grocer to pick up your snacks and small bites.

What to experience

  • Lula Cellars: On your way to Mendocino, in a small town on the 128 called Philo, be sure to indulge in the wine scene. Lula Cellars, is a small shop who sell their wines only out of their tasting room. The Pinots are award wining and you will definitely want to take a few bottles home with you.
  •  Set out with Catch-a-Canoe at Stanford Inn: Renting an outrigger canoe to take down the river was incredible and definitely one of the trip highlights. It’s a way to be immersed in nature and take in the wildlife like seals and otters playing in the water, all the while gliding across the water. Based right at Stanford Inn, it’s a great spot to spend the day and finish up with dinner at the hotel.
  • Hike in Russian Gulch State Park: With numerous trails leading your around the coast, to special discoveries like a sink hole, and unwavering views of Mendocino, the Russian Gulch State Park is a great place to blaze the trail.
  • Afternoon tea at Glendeven + llamas: Yeah the combination is enchanting, and my guess is you’ll come back once more just to walk with the llamas. Afternoon tea set in the quaintest, white sun-bright room is a sure way to have a successful day.
  • Walk the gardens at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: See what the local flora is all about, and have a romantic time exploring the ins and outs of the gardens.
  • Shop at Honey & Ro: It’s magical when a space meets this kind of curated perfection. Home goods, clothing, trinkets, and more await to be discovered in a space that will melt your creative dreams away.
  • Gaze at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse: Picturesque and worth the drive to the oceanside for a leisure walk.
  • Sunset along the coast: There are countless places to pull over and take in the sunset. Bring a blanket, a drink, and enjoy some of the freshest air you’re going to breath on the Pacific Coast.
  • Peruse at Moore’s Used Books: Take a walk through time, and be mesmerized by multiple levels of used books in a space that screams for you to sit down and thumb through a volume or two.

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*All photos taken by the talented Sarah Gerber from Twenty Twenty Studios
*Bon Traveler & Twenty Twenty Studios were guests of many of the vendors. As always, all opinions are our own.

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Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

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Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

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Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

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Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

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  1. So happy to have found your blog! We are en route to Mendocino for our mini moon and are using your post as a guide! I think you might be based in SF, and we’re also from the Bay! Looking forward to exploring your many western guides. Your photography is beautiful. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  2. Mendo Stylee Reply

    It’s a local thing, we are passionate about everything.

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