Mendocino Travel Diary

 Any time there’s a long weekend, I try to get out of town and explore somewhere new. But when there’s a holiday weekend and our 8 year anniversary all in one, we definitely head out of town—and to a beautiful place at that.

This year, we decided to spend our long weekend along the Mendocino Coast. We had seen photos and heard a few stories from friends about Mendocino, but we had no idea just how deeply we’d fall in love with it. To say it was a perfect weekend would be an understatement, and I’m breaking down everything we did below.
Day 1: Since Mendocino is about a 3.5 hour drive from our house, we decided to take Friday off so we could take our time getting up there. The first stop we made was in a small town called Boonville. It was no less than 110 degrees outside so we weren’t really able to do the exploring I had hoped for, but we did grab delicious sandwiches from Boonville General Store and a sweet, refreshing treat at Paysanne afterward.
Our second stop of the day was Navarro Vineyards, a seriously stunning winery with delicious wines. After doing their tasting, we purchased a bottle of their Gewürztraminer and then made our way to our hotel in Mendocino, the Sea Rock Inn. With expansive views and quaint cottages, this place looked perfect on paper but was even more stunning IRL. I seriously cannot recommend it enough—every little detail was perfection. Just look at our adorable cabin below!
We closed out our first day with sunset drinks and dinner at Little River Inn. Pro tip: Order your drink at the bar and then enjoy it outside on the deck.
Day 2: To kick off our second day, we woke up early and hit the hiking trails to beat the heat. The views from Russian Gulch State Park were breathtaking, as is a nice walk through the Mendocino Headlands. From there, we made our way into what may be the sweetest town I’ve ever seen. Between the Victorian homes with white picket fences, adorable shops and cafés, and ocean views, it’s no wonder that we spent a couple hours just taking it all in. There aren’t a ton of great lunch spots to choose from but we loved our salads and iced coffees from the Goodlife Café and Bakery.
After a solid shopping sesh (my favorite shop was Honey & Ro!), it was the perfect time for a beach sesh. Best part? Big River Beach is just a few steps away from town and was the dreamiest place to spend the rest of the afternoon.
The dreaminess continued with happy hour at MacCallum House. As soon as we walked in and saw the massive white windows and wraparound porch, it was love at first sight. We didn’t have a chance to eat here, but it looked like the perfect place to spend an evening. Instead, we ate dinner at the Ledford House, which is the ideal spot to catch the sunset and listen to live jazz, but is a bit of a drive from town.
Day 3: On our last full day, we traveled north to Fort Bragg, a much larger town just about 10 miles from Mendocino. To be totally honest, I’d say you could easily leave this off the itinerary and opt to spend yet another afternoon in the oh-so-charming Mendocino. But if you do decide to venture to Fort Bragg, here are the top spots to hit: Glass Beach, MacKerricher State Park, Jenny’s Giant Burger, and Pacific Star Winery for a $5 tasting in Adirondack chairs overlooking the ocean.
I guess you could say we saved the best for last for our anniversary dinner because our meal at Wild Fish was one for the books. Whatever you do, make your reservation in advance because the restaurant is teeny tiny and fills up quickly.
Day 4: Though it took significantly longer, we ended up driving all the way down the coast to go back home. Along the way, we stopped whenever we saw something that caught our eyes with our favorite places being: Point Arena Lighthouse, Bowling Ball Beach, Bodega Bay, and Nick’s Cove for fish and chips.

I’m already looking at the calendar to see when we can spend another weekend in magic Mendocino. If you’re looking for more long weekend destinations, check out my travel guides for Big Sur and Seattle.

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