Discover the top things to do in Mendocino, California. Enjoy exploring wine country and discovering the beautiful coastline. This visitors guide will help you in planning your next trip to Mendocino, California, including where to stay, eat, and adventure.
Whether you're looking for a romantic couples getaway or a solo restful break, Mendocino County has a little something for everyone. The county is abundant in redwood forests for hiking enthusiasts and also offers a variety of family-friendly attractions.
The first time we visited Mendocino, we went on a beach glamping excursion, which you can read about here. We didn't leave our campsite for the entire weekend because Mendocino's coastline is breathtaking. While sitting by the water and listening to the waves pounding on the rocks, it's easy to lose sight of time.
We redeemed ourselves the second time around passing through Mendocino, and made a solid attempt at sampling some of the fantastic seafood and wine that this seaside town has to offer. Whether you come to the North Coast to waste your day away sitting on the sand or filling your calendar with all the best things to do, you won't go wrong!
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:
If you plan on camping in Mendocino, 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!
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.
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.