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  • Writer's pictureKaren Calderon-Schweitzer

Three Days in Mendocino, California

California's natural beauty offers travelers and locals plenty reasons to visit and keep visiting. Mendocino is one of those spectacular places not to be missed along the California coast.

I found out about Mendocino while writing a magazine feature and fell in love with this very special place. My husband and I spent three amazing days in Mendocino taking advantage of everything it has to offer. Mendocino’s picture-perfect beauty and welcoming community have over the years lured artists looking for inspiration, adventurous travelers seeking beautiful trails and couples in search of a romantic spot.


LOCATION

Mendocino is located about 163 miles north on San Francisco, just a little over a three hour drive when taking the US-101 and the CA-128 West. There is plenty to see and experience while taking this route like wineries in Yorkville Highlands and the town of Boonville where you can pick your own fruit at The Apple Farm or buy their delicious chutneys and dried fruit.


WHERE TO STAY

The Little River Inn is where we stayed and truly were charmed by this lovely inn. This enchanting multi-generational family owned and operated resort has been a Mendocino favorite since 1939. Upon check-in you will be given an actual metal key to your accommodations. This reflects upon a time in which guests wanting to lock their rooms were given one of the master keys that unlocked every lock. There have been intense renovations performed to this local favorite since it’s opening days but the history of The Little River Inn can be appreciated with the historic photos that show its history and embellish its walls. Each one of the 66 comfortably appointed guestrooms and suites have stunning views of Mendocino's coast providing guests unforgettable vistas. Some guestrooms offer private decks, cozy fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs and relaxing steam showers.


THINGS TO DO

With breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline, state and national park-lands where you can hike among nature, historic architecture and astonishing redwood tree forests there is so much to do in Mendocino.


Downtown Mendocino

Filled with quaint little shops this 4 block center has a little bit for everyone. For a foodie like me, visit Mendocino Jams and Preserves where they produce delicious combinations using the freshest local ingredients. I absolutely love their mustards all unique and delightful!


For art enthusiasts visit the Mendocino Art Center where you can delight your artful senses with paintings, sculptures and ceramics from Northern California artists.


The Kelley House Museum will transport you back to 19th century Mendocino where the Kelley family settled and thrived in the timber industry. The museum features furniture from the 1800's with photos and artifacts from the natives in the area.


Connect With Nature

Visit Van Damme State Park, just next door to the Little River Inn, where you will walk through fern canyons, redwood forests and into the Pigmy forest where you can admire trees thriving there for centuries and dwarfed due to the lack of nutrients. This park is perfect for bird watching, enjoying the magnificence of the beautiful redwoods and a peaceful beach cove from where you can embark on a kayak and explore the seascape.


Russian Gulch State Park offers a 6.5 mile long loop hike among a lush fern forest and a 36 magnificent waterfall midway through the loop. The path to the waterfall is well grated alongside a creek where you can pick wild berries to enjoy along the way.


Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens will delight you even if you don't have a green thumb. This very special garden has easy trails in which you can hike among the unique gardens that compose this special place. They have a very unique collection of plants and is the perfect spot to get a perfect pic of your visit.


Do some tide-pooling at MacKerricher State Park. This easily accessible park on the Mendocino coast where a boardwalk takes your through different access points to the tide pools. At the end of the boardwalk you can entertain yourself while watching the harbor seals interacting on the rocks.




WHERE TO EAT

There are many places to eat and taste the local cuisine in Mendocino and I found that they all put emphasis on utilizing seasonal and local ingredients. The laid-back vibe is noticeable as you visit the different restaurants since there is no strict dress code. From casual cafes to more upscale restaurants the local cuisine will certainly delight your palate.


This beautiful restaurant is set in an 1893 Victorian farmhouse. Dinner is served nightly in a relaxed setting where you can see their large garden of edible flowers and unique plants. Executive Chef Julian Lopez has created a menu that changes with the seasons and offers delicacies influenced by global cuisine and local favorites. I enjoyed the local Macgruder Ranch steak tartare appetizer, the roast chiken was a delight and the homemade fruit sorbets are not to be missed.


This eclectic and unassuming local favorite offers homemade, made to order breakfast and lunch. As you can tell by the name, eggs are their main ingredient but they sure do a wonderful job in showcasing them in different ways. The menu offers extensive options for omelettes, Benedicts, scrambles, waffles and even a delightful Crab Melt. I was absolutely speechless - and that's not easily accomplished - with the Dorothy's Revenge Special. It combines a perfectly poached egg, Dungeness crab and bacon smothered in a rich and delightful champagne Hollandaise sauce.


Five-star Executive Chef Marc Dym delights guests and dinners with perfectly prepared dishes showcasing fresh local ingredients. The Little River Inn Restaurant is a must while in Mendocino County. The menu offers a number of remarkable dishes such as Chef’s Dym Pork Osso Bucco, Flat Iron Steak Diane with green peppercorn sauce and the rich and decadent mussels with an Asian flare. I would say that everything we ate here was remarkable!





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