Discover the top things to do in Mendocino, California during your next weekend road trip up the Northern California Coast. This visitors guide will help you plan your next trip to Mendocino, California, including where to stay, eat, and adventure!
Whether you're looking for a romantic couples getaway, a restful solo adventure trip or a girls getaway celebration, Mendocino County has a little something for everyone. It is truly a unique city, and a great representation of California because of its many diverse landscapes, which include redwood forests, rivers, beaches, farm land, and vineyards!
While this charming coastal town is located rather far up the Northern California coast and is not easily available to tourists. You might be asking yourself is Mendocino really worth the visit?
Now that we've been to Mendocino a few times, some just passing through on a road trip, others camping and glamping for the weekend. I can confidently say that Mendocino is not a place to just pass through; it deserves a few days of exploration to fully appreciate the picturesque nature and beauty it has to offer!
Whether you come to the Mendocino Coast to waste your day away sitting on the beach or filling your calendar with all the best things to do, you can't go wrong planning your next vacation here!
Where is Mendocino, California?
Mendocino County is approximately 150 miles north of San Francisco and 250 miles south of the Oregon state line. It's a quaint coastal community nestled along the Pacific Ocean that's renowned for its natural picturesque splendor surrounded by ocean and forest. Mendocino has one of California's most picturesque coastlines, and it's a beautiful destination to get away from it all and reconnect with the outdoors.
Best Time to Visit Mendocino?
Mendocino, California has a rather stable climate throughout the year although the temps remain cooler than the rest of California. During the summer, the cool ocean breezes maintain the average daily high temperature in the 60s. Winter daytime temperatures are often in the 50s to low 60s, with temperatures dropping at night. Summer will always be the most popular time of year for visitors wishing to escape to Mendocino, but with all of the flora and fauna in bloom, springtime in Mendocino is exceptionally spectacular. If you enjoy wine, fall is also a beautiful time to visit because the vines are full and fruitful before harvest.
My Favorite Looks for Mendocino
Mendocino, California Lodging
Mendocino is known for its modest luxury boutique hotels, charming bed & breakfasts, and one-of-a-kind vacation rentals. Because there aren't many huge chain hotels in this sleepy town, it's a terrific spot to experience genuine local hospitality.
Best Lodging near Mendocino:
Glamping in Mendocino
Mendocino County, surprisingly, also has a variety of glamping and cute cabins tucked away in the forest, and some with ocean views! We ended up booking a Glamping Cabin through HipCamp to stay at Heartwood Mendocino, which I highly recommend if you want to experience glamping! The outdoor redwood shower is to die for, and it's only a short distance to downtown Mendocino!
You can also camp in Mendocino, a site at Westport RV Park + Campground offers a wide selection of tent and RV campsites, right along the coast! We camped on their beach sites and you can read more about that here.
Things to Do near Mendocino, CA
Ride the Skunk Train
Journey through the redwood-studded Noyo River Canyon, an exquisite natural sight, is reached via a 2-hour round trip train ride. For those wishing to see the huge giants that have made Mendocino County famous, this is a terrific family friendly experience.
Explore Russian Gulch State Park
When visiting Mendocino, a visit to Russian Gulch State Park is a must; it's a terrific location for hikers to enjoy views of the rocky coastline, and inland hikers will find a 36-foot waterfall surrounded by lush fern forest. The Devils Punchbowl Sinkhole and Panhorst Bridge are two other must-see sites in Russian Gulch. There are more than 15 miles of trails to explore, giving visitors much to see and things to do when visiting this state park.
Wine Taste at Pacific Star Winery
Open Thursday-Sunday Noon-5pm
If you enjoy a good view and a glass of wine, this hidden gem on the Mendocino coast is not to be missed. Pacific Star Winery takes its name from the Pacific Star Fault, which runs through their property. From your Adirondack chair, you'll have panoramic views of the ocean and, depending on the season, you might even see whales! Plus, wine tastings are only $10! Check out my full review and tips for visiting this coastal winery!
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse
Open Sunrise - Sunset
This State Historic Park is situated on a picturesque point that juts out into the Pacific and is home to a lighthouse that is still operating. The park offers various museums to visit and is a historical site to learn about Mendocino's seafaring past. Throughout the Point, hiking trails wind through coastal prairie and coastal bluff environments. It will most likely be chilly and windy.
Mendocino Headlands State Park
The Mendocino Headlands State Park surrounds the village of Mendocino. Trails to explore the coastline, isolated beaches, and even the historic Ford House Museum await visitors. The Big River Beach wetlands, a 7,400-acre wildlife corridor that connects varied coastal and interior habitats into the largest piece of contiguous public land fully within Mendocino County, may also be of interest.
Jug Handle State Reserve
Jug Handle State Reserve is an excellent spot for geology enthusiasts to see some of the world's most diversified geologic soils and rocks. Due to active rising seas and tetonic plate changes, you'll be able to view firsthand the spectacular fractures in rock forming along the coastline.
Visit Glass Beach
Glass Beach is a well-known Instagrammed beach in Mendocino County, best known for the beautiful beach glass that washes up on the shore. Although there isn't as much glass on the beach these days, it's still a beautiful place to watch the sunset!
Where to Eat in Mendocino, CA
What makes Mendocino so special is the fact that you may find small cafés tucked away in renovated houses serving refined farm fresh food. Because you're near the sea, anticipate fresh and excellent seafood, and keep in mind that it's still a little town, so you'll discover a few modest hole-in-the-wall establishments too.
Where to Taste Wine in Mendocino, CA
Mendocino County is one of California's northernmost wine grape growing regions, with a distinction for organic and sustainable viticulture. The foggy coast provides a unique climate for the vineyards, with chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet Sauvignon being the most widely produced varietals.
Anderson Valley is the most well-known wine tasting AVA, although lesser valleys like Redwood, McDowell, and Potter also offer wine tasting experiences.