Published: December, 2017
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Mendocino, California a wonderful cabin about 10 minutes south of Mendocino in a beautiful Redwood grove.
— Mimi Swank
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, Beach
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: 5 DAYS

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.

Where to Stay

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

Where to Eat and Drink

  • 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.
  • 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!

What to 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

Flow Restaurant & Lounge : Beautiful view, very average food.

Mendocino, California - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Caroline Kesmodel Says

    Stayed at the Stanford Inn By the Sea-
    Fantastic location- bike and walk to gorgeous beach and kayaks. Bikes and kayaks on site. Amazing vegetable garden on property. Dog friendly. Rooms are updated with great decks, but not luxe. Kids indulged on the chocolate chip cookies. Note- fully Vegan restaurant!

    In town, Loved Cafe Beaujolais for lunch and dinner- outside garden seating. Truly Amazing Burgers, pizza, salads….
    Good Life Cafe so yummy for breakfast. From great eggs to cinnamon buns.

    To Do-
    Easy Coastal Hike to Point Cabrillo Light House with stunning views.
    Walk Big River dog friendly beach, Bike Big River trail, Outrigger or kayak down Big River.
    From town, walk down to Mendocino Headlands State Park, don’t miss the Driftwood Beach Cove
    There are 6 great beaches nearby- hit them all!

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