Looking for a weekend getaway this fall? Head up to the Mendocino coast and explore all the region has to offer. Need ideas? Here's your weekend itinerary. It includes wineries, redwoods, a train ride, coastal views, and a few ideas for places to stay. Bon voyage!
Getting to Mendocino is half the fun. It's about a three-hour drive north of San Francisco. From the city to wine country, and then from redwood forests to rugged coastal bluffs, it’s quite a beautiful drive, which makes the long trip worth it.
Travel Tip: You could take the scenic Highway 1 all the way the coast, but I ended up taking Highway 101 to Highway 128. It’s faster, and you get to drive through what the locals call “The Redwood Tunnel to the Sea.” It was probably my favorite part of the drive.
On your drive up, make sure to stop at a few wineries along Highway 128. The Anderson Valley of Mendocino County is the up-the-coming winery region of California, with small mom-and-pop wineries sprinkled in the region.
Make sure to add Lula Cellars to your list. It might look unassuming from the road, but they have a great selection of wine and owners who are happy to chat. Heck, even the dog gets to come to work, which I loved. Need a wine recommendation? If you like reds, make sure to try their Pinot Noir!
Another great option is Handley Cellars, which is right next to Lula Cellars. My visit to these wineries was unhurried and unpretentious, which I appreciated. It's got all the perks of a small, family-owned winery.
One of the best things about Mendocino County is its rugged coastline and amazing blue water. Make sure to check out a beach, take a hike, visit a historic lighthouse, or explore the seaside village of Mendocino.
If you can, try booking a room at the Brewery Gulch Inn. It has a little bit of a Nantucket feel with the wood exterior.
As you enter the inn through its large front door, it opens up into a bright Great Room. It’s here where you’ll check in and enjoy everything the inn has to offer. It includes seating around a fireplace, a custom Scrabble table, a movie library, a breakfast bar, and more.
One of the perks to staying at the Brewery Gulch Inn is the outdoor patio off the Great Room. It has a nice view of Smuggler’s Cove and the beautiful blue waters of Mendocino.
It's the best spot to enjoy breakfast in the morning, read a book in the afternoon, or sip a glass of wine in the evening.
Oh, by the way, Mendocino has some of the best sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
What else can you do? Take a train ride through the redwoods! Head to Fort Bragg, which is a quick 15-minute drive north of Mendocino. You'll depart on your journey aboard the Skunk Train on the Pudding Creek Express trip, which is 30 minutes into the forest and 30 minutes back. If you're looking for something longer, try the four-hour Northspur Flyer trip.
Psst! Despite the train's name, I promise it isn't pungent! ;)
What else can you do? Walk the trails of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. There are 47 acres and 14 different types of gardens to walk through. My favorites were the Dahlia Garden and the Vegetable Garden and Orchard (only because of this adorable greenhouse).
What else can you do? This area has so much to offer! Check out a few breweries, state parks, and family-owned farms. Stop in Booneville to check out the Farmhouse Mercantile and Pennyroyal Farm. Not into wine? Check out the Mendocino Brewing Ale House. There are also all kinds of state parks. My favorite is Russian Gulch State Park. You can go hiking or camping, or just stop by to get this iconic shot of the bridge.
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