About two and a half hours North of San Francisco you will find Mendocino and the North Coast. While it can seem a little out of the way, this area has some of the best views and cliffsides in the State, majestic forests to explore, small town charm, top-notch wine tasting and so much more. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend at a beautiful inn to escape from the world, or for some outdoor adventures Mendocino County, California offers something for everyone.
From tours to places to eat to wineries to try, take a look at some of the best things to do in Mendocino County, California. Mendocino County includes many destinations and you can spend a weekend in just one or explore them all; from Point Arena on the coast, up through Little River, Mendocino and Fort Bragg and inland with the Anderson Valley in Philo and Boonville.
Note: Some tours, stays and meals were provided at no cost to the author. As always, all opinions remain my own. You’ll find affiliate links in this post which allow me to continue to improve Traveling Nine to Fiver. I hope best things to do in Mendocino useful for you.
WHERE TO REST YOUR HEAD
7751 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456
The perfect relaxing stay right on the Pacific Coast Highway in the small town of Little River just south of Mendocino. Whether you’re looking for an inn to relax at for your entire weekend or a launching point to explore the area the Little River Inn is perfect. On site, you have a great restaurant, a golf course, spa, tennis courts and easy access to a beach and even a state park filled with trails. Its location is perfect for getting up to Fort Bragg, down to Point Arena, or out to the Anderson Valley for some exploring. The rooms themselves are perfect for relaxing, especially with their ocean facing decks. Book your stay here.
MY FAVORITE EATS
7750 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456
An elegant restaurant right over the water with a friendly husband and wife running the place. Make a reservation since they are filled with locals and tourists all night, or be willing to wait for a good while. Either way, it’s worth the effort. Enjoy one of their fish entrees, even the whole fish, a glass of their local filled wine list and do not skip on dessert. Their Pot de Creme with Mexican chocolate is one of the best I’ve had in a long time. Also, it’s right across from the Little River Inn.
7751 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456
Right at the Little River Inn you’ll find a lovely restaurant tucked right in the hillside with luscious gardens right outside the windows. Besides the beautiful setting the food from breakfast to dinner is worth stopping in. Not only will hotel guests be there but it is filled up with locals as well. For dinner don’t miss their crab cakes and at breakfast, you have to try their Swedish pancakes.
10485 Lansing St, Mendocino, CA 95460
Filled with locals catching a game, or enjoying their elevated pub food. You should grab a seat at the bar, order one of their 14 beers on tap, and start off your evening with some oysters. A casual place for the coast, but don’t let that fool you, it will likely be one of the best meals you eat on your trip. The grilled oysters were amazing and their fish and chips hit the spot. They only take cash but have an ATM on site.
326 N Main St Fort Bragg, CA 95437
If you head up to Fort Bragg early in the day pop into the little diner Eggheads for a tasty breakfast. You’ll find their Wizard of Oz theme adorable and the food flavor packed. Enjoy a benedict or a breakfast burrito to get your day started.
17810 Farrer Ln Boonville, CA 95415
One of my favorite things about wine country is finding the local deli store and in Boonville, you shouldn’t miss out. Grab a sandwich freshly made, a side salad, some Northern California cheese and a bottle of wine for the perfect picnic. Either eat it there or pass on a bottle for now and enjoy it on one of the beautiful surrounding wineries.
14211 Hwy 128 Boonville, CA 95415
Right next door to the General Store, you’ll find Lauren’s. A casual spot where you can get elevated homestyle cooking. From sandwiches to salads to entrees you can enjoy a little bit of everything, all while getting to color at the table. Which is just as much fun as an adult.
ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES TO TRY
Join Margaret on a tour to get to know the region on a whole new level. She can take you on walks of the Stornetta Public lands where you learn the history and geology of the region, an architectural tour of Sea Ranch and much more. The perfect chance to see the area in a unique way.
Wine Tasting In Anderson Valley
One of what I think is the best things to do in Mendocino is exploring the Anderson Valley, one of California’s pristine wine tasting regions. With wineries producing top-notch products you get to enjoy some of the best. You’ll also find a laid back environment where you can avoid the tourist crowds and stuck-up attitude that can come with Napa and instead get to know an area and it’s people, along with its wine. A few favorites that you shouldn’t miss include Lula Cellars, Roederer Estate, Navarro Vineyards, and Goldeneye Wines.
45500 Lighthouse Rd, Point Arena, CA 95468
The tallest lighthouse on the West Coast you can walk up all the way to the top. Don’t miss out on this piece of history for the region and beautiful vantage point of the coast.
Glass Beach will make just about every list of unique things to do in California, top natural experience on the west and even most unique beaches in the United States. You’ll look down and see a beautiful beach but it isn’t until you walk down the steps and put your hands in what you’d expect to be sand that you can really appreciate it. Instead of sand, you’ll find thousands of pieces of sea glass, all beautifully rounded by the sea. This is a real must do in the area, even if you can only make a short stop.
130 Riverside Dr, Point Arena, CA 95468
Step out of California and walk into a Safari. This wildlife preserve gives you a chance to see these wild animals in large enclosures and still get up close and personal. Visit the antelopes and zebras as they roam the hillsides and then have a chance to feed the Giraffes yourself. A unique opportunity to appreciate these majestic animals. You can even stay the night on the property as well.
8001 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456
Right next to the Little River Inn, this park provides a chance to not only see a beautiful beach but get to explore the coastal forests. Walk through the campgrounds and you’ll follow the signs to the Fern Canyon Trail. Here you will see giant redwoods and ferns and so much more. Wander along the Little River for a perfect hike, not challenging and almost relaxing in the setting.
THE BEST PLACES TO GRAB A DRINK
7751 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456
Sit and watch the game with locals, all while having a view of the sun setting on the water. In the Little River Inn, you’ll find this bar right in front of the restaurant. You can even order the full menu here but it’s also perfect for just grabbing a drink.
444 N Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
One of the great Northern California breweries you have a chance to taste a variety of brews you can’t find anywhere else. You can also grab a solid bite in their restaurant but don’t miss a chance to try a few of their seasonal brews.
17700 CA-253, Boonville, CA 95415
Well known for their Winter & Summer Solstice beers you can also find a new seasonal release every month at the brewery. A perfect way to start or end your trip to the Mendocino Coast.
For a weekend itinerary in Mendocino County click over to this post.
Did I miss any of your favorite spots in my best things to do in Mendocino County? If so, let me know in a comment below. I’m planning a trip back up this summer for some warm weather activities and would love your tips.