Mendocino

Closing my eyes I hear the sea must I wait, must I follow, won’t you say come with me?
— Linda Ronstadt
  • More about your Oliver Guide: Mimi Swank

  • TRIP TYPE: FAMILY

  • IDEAL trip length: 5 DAYS 

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To & From

From SFO it is a 4.5 hour drive to Mendocino via 101N. We broke up the drive by taking 128N through the Anderson Valley and stopping at a few wineries along the way.

STAY

  • We used VRBO to book a wonderful cabin about 10 minutes south of Mendocino in a beautiful Redwood grove.

EAT & DRINK

  • Circa' 62 at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek : A breakfast must do - the French toast is off the charts. I had the Dungeness Eggs Benedict -- as decadent as it sounds. We sat in a cozy room that felt like someone’s home complete with a fire in the fireplace.
  • Wild Fish : Ate here for lunch and loved the Smoked Fish Chowder. I enjoyed the Thai Fish Cakes paired with the Navarro 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, kiddos loved the Catch of the Day and fish tacos, and hubby devoured the mushroom risotto. Small intimate space, so dinner with kids would be best on the early side. Don't miss the sticky toffee pudding.
  • Little River Inn Restaurant : Enjoy a drink at the lively bar before dinner. We had an excellent breakfast and dinner here. (Ole’s Swedish Hotcakes -YUM - and some of the best Huevos Rancheros evah.) The kids swear it is the best sorbet (they got blackberry) they have eaten in their lives.
  • Inn at the Cobbler's Walk Mendocino / The Shared Table: A locally-sourced dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. We were not able to do this but will definitely try it next trip. 
  • Cafe Beaujolais : Did date night here. Nice atmosphere and food did not disappoint.
  • Harvest Market: They have everything you might need; even bought fresh Dungeness crab for New Year's Eve dinner.
  • Sea Pal Cove : After whale watching in Fort Bragg, popped into this tiny hole-in-the-wall with delish chowder and fish & chips. Super accommodating to my son's shellfish allergy-- changed out the oil to fry his french fries. 
  • Frankie's: Casual, great family-friendly dinner spot with great pizza and ice cream- try the candy cap mushroom!

Do

  • Whale Watching : We used Telstar Charters (707) 964-8770 to book our tour and would use again. Small laid-back operation run by Captain Randy and his wife. Since it was late December we had a beautiful day and saw lots of migrating gray whales. The deck hand was nice enough to give us a few crabs to eat after he steamed them on the dock. 
  • Horseback Riding : Would highly recommend  Ricochet Ridge Ranch (707) 964-7669. It is under new ownership and the Midwestern couple is positively charming. They have horses for every age and size. 
  • Hike: The Cobbler’s Walk is a fun, easy (kid-friendly) hike. Park on Peterson Lane by the Inn at the Cobbler's Walk and access the trail behind the Inn. Walk west until you hit the cliffs and then stroll north. The views are to die for, so bring your camera. Another hike worth doing is through Hendy Woods which is on 128 as you head to Mendocino. There are magnificent old growth redwoods, and you can do an easy flat hike with the kids.
  • Glass Beach: This is a beach in Ft. Bragg made up of mostly sea glass and worth checking out. There is an easy access and a difficult access-- there will be fewer people at the difficult access point if it is open. 
  • Wine/Cheese Tasting: Anderson Valley is nearby and full of amazing wineries that feature pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling wine. We stopped by a few of our fav's en route to Mendocino including Goldeneye and Roederer, but first we hit Pennyroyal Farm for a goat cheese tasting. They had a refrigerator with cold drinks for the kids and a selection of salami, pickled veggies and pates. It was the perfect snack which we ate on the back patio overlooking beautiful farmland and trees.

INSIDE SCOOP