Plan Your Mendocino County Weekend Getaway

The rugged Mendocino Coast as seen on the Glass Beach
Betsy Malloy

Mendocino County's tourist attractions center on the coast, where you'll find dramatic cliffs and crashing waves. The pleasures here are mostly simple: A walk in the woods or on the beach; a relaxing spa visit; an afternoon reading your favorite book. Depending on the timing of your visit, you may also be able to enjoy one of the local festivals that take place throughout the year.

Best Time to Go

Depending on how well you know California weather, you may be surprised to learn that summer is not the best time to visit this coastal location. You're likely to find morning and evening fog, and some June days can be gloomy all day long. Spring and fall are much nicer, and the coastal rhododendrons bloom in March and April. In winter, you risk rain and storms, but rates plummet and normally popular spots are blissfully uncrowded.

4 Great Things to Do in Mendocino County

  • Skunk Train: One of the most popular things to do in Mendocino, this scenic train ride takes you over the mountains from Fort Bragg to Willits.
  • Ridgewood Ranch: Famous race horse Seabiscuit made his home here, and much of the ranch is unchanged since his day.
  • B. Bryan Preserve: This preserve is focused on the breeding and preservation of African hoof Stock, such as various species of zebra, giraffe, and antelope. You can also stay in one of their eco-friendly cottages.
  • Visit a Beach: Join beachcombers picking up sea glass at Glass Beach, check out the spherical boulders at Bowling Ball Beach, or go for a long walk at Manchester Beach.
  • Go to the Spa: The charming Elk Cove Inn's small but comfy spa offers massages in a beautiful seaside location.

Best Brunch

Since most of Mendocino's lodging is bed and breakfast-style, you may not have an opportunity to go for brunch. If you're looking for a fine evening meal, Fort Bragg's Mendo Bistro offers innovative cuisine featuring fresh, local ingredients.

How to Get There

The town of Mendocino is 155 miles from San Francisco, 200 miles from San Jose and 195 miles from Sacramento. If you are coming in from out of the Bay Area, the most convenient airport is in San Francisco (SFO).

The best route coming from the south is to take Highway 128 through Boonville and up the Anderson Valley to Highway 1. If you're coming from the north on Highway 101, take Highway 20 west to the coast. If you've got the time and plan to drive home toward the south, take Highway 1 and stop for the night in one of these charming Sonoma Backroads towns.

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