Travel Guide: Mendocino Road Trip

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lunch at the brass rabbit in healdsburg

kokomo -one of our winery stops on the way to mendocino

the skunk train in mendocino

part of the scenery from the skunk train

lunch in fort bragg, where one of nick’s favorite beers is made

pizza from piaci

glass beach near fort bragg

seaside church in mendocino

jug handle beach

If you are looking to take a California road trip,I could not recommend Mendocino enough! But then again, that’s probablllllly why you clicked on my post;) If you’re just a fellow wanderluster, then read on! We were gone a total of 5 days. We could have probably stretched it out to a week, but honestly it was the perfect length. Here’s our in depth itinerary. I detail it below, but am also sharing what we did in bullet points if you prefer that. Enjoy!!

Thursday: We left late afternoon from DFW and flew into SFO. We stayed at The Clift and enjoyed their Redwood Room that evening, then retired to bed.

Friday: That next morning we walked to Mr. Holmes Bakery (not just a cute insta spot - it’s really yummy!), then had a quick tour of the hotel. After that, we got on the road! About halfway through (the drive to Mendo is about 3.5 hours from SF) we stopped in Healdsburg to visit The Shed and had lunch at The Brass Rabbit. Very yummy! Next we stopped at Komomo Winery and Mauritson Wines. We ended up purchasing some Cemetary Zin from Mauritson and they are DIVINE. After those tastings, we pressed onward to finish our drive. After not too long, we arrived at Brewery Gulch Inn. We settled in, then enjoyed their wine hour and dinner buffet, along with a gorgeous sunset.

Saturday: We awoke early so we could catch the sunrise and enjoy one last amazing meal at Brewery Gulch. We were off to ride the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg! It’s a fun little foresty train ride and perfect for all ages. After that we had lunch at Piaci, which had great pizza! Old Rasputin is one of Nick’s favorite beers and it’s actually brewed in Fort Bragg! We had to finish off our meal with something sweet, so we hightailed it to Cowlick’s Ice Cream Cafe. Glass beach was one of my “must do’s” and it’s a mile from the main drag in Fort Bragg, so we went there next. I don’t want to say it was underwhelming, because it wasn’t, but honestly there isn’t that much glass anymore, because people take it. If you visit, just enjoy the scenery and leave with the memories only! After our afternoon in Fort Bragg, we made it back to Mendocino and checked into Little River Inn. The room was so cozy and the fireplace was so nice, we actually arrived and proceeded to crash for 3 hours!! Eventually we got up and had dinner in the Main Dining Room, then proceeded to curl up by the fire for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday: Our anniversary!! We woke up early and ordered room service, so we could carb-load for the day ahead. We began with a hike in pygmy forest (the soil is acidic, so trees redwoods have stunted growth here), which leads into fern gulch if you go far enough. Since we went so early, it was very peaceful and almost eerie. We didn’t see any animals, but we knew they were near, as we kept finding different kinds of poop. (I actually took pictures of it, so I could later look up what the animal was by its feces haha) Next we did jug handle beach - both down the steps, and the view above. Do both!! I kept wanting to call it “jughead” beach, because of the character in Riverdale. (lol) We then came back to Little River and enjoyed lunch in the bar there, before taking a nap. For our anniversary dinner, we dined at Harbor House Inn in Elk and man was that an experience! Our drive was at dusk and we actually 8-12 deer on our way there. The sunset was INCREDIBLE and the location presents a different view of the water, which was really nice. The meal was 10 courses and all sourced within 30 miles of HH. I enjoyed the best sweet potato I’ve ever eaten and I truly appreciated their ability to push the envelope. The meal ended with grilled seaweed ice cream, which was just SO COOL.

Monday: Our last morning in Mendo! We checked out of Little River and made our way back to SF. Before we got too far, we stopped at Mosswood Market in Boonville and got some breakfast empanandas! The only other stop before SF was when we pulled off the road to get some good vineyard pictures at Goldeneye. We love Duckhorn and Goldeneye is one of their brands. Once we arrived in SF, we ate lunch at Wayfare Tavern. They are a great restaurant and bar, but are world famous for their fried chicken. It was very tasty. After that, we dropped off our Silvercar (who we rented from) and made our way to the airport.

Where to Stay:

San Francisco: The Clift Royal Sonesta

Mendocino: Brewery Gulch Inn

Mendocino: Little River Inn

Where to Eat and Drink:

San Francisco: The Redwood Room

San Francisco: Mr. Holme’s Bakery

San Francisco: Wayfare Tavern

Healdsburg: The Shed

Healdsburg: The Brass Rabbit

Mendocino: Brewery Gulch Inn (stay there to eat there!)

Mendocino: Main Dining Room

Fort Bragg: Ole’s Whale Watch Bar

Elk: Harbor House Inn

Fort Bragg: Piaci Pizza and Pub

Fort Bragg: Cowlick’s Ice Cream Cafe

Fort Bragg: North Coast Brewing Co (Old Rasputin beer!)

Boonville: Mosswood Market

What to Do: (all Mendocino area related)

-Wine taste in Healdsburg on your way to Mendocino!

-Skunk Train

-Pygmy Forest

-Fern Gulch

-Jug Handle Beach

-Glass Beach

-Make a fire and enjoy the view (not kidding. do it. it is so peaceful)

We would have loved to visit the redwoods, but the famous forests near Mendo were further up the coast than we had time to do. Bowling ball beach was also something on my list that was a little too far away. Like I mentioned earlier, I really wouldn’t have changed much about our trip except maybe 7 days instead of 5, to account for drive time. (but not necessary!). Have you ever been to the North Coast? Send your favorite things to do so we can experience them when we go back!!

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