On a gorgeous day, driving to Mendocino is a dream. Wind through the verdant Anderson Valley wine region and the Navarro River Redwoods State Park to Highway 1. Hit the rugged coast and it’s stunning — the crashing waves against the rocks, lush vegetation, and the village of Mendocino sitting high on a bluff.
Mendocino is a great place to escape the crowds and unwind from the 24/7 world. It’s serene, alluring, pet friendly, and full of possibilities for a weekend adventure.
In the heart of town sits MacCallum House on two acres of beautiful gardens. The town’s founder, William Kelley, originally built the inn in 1882. Today, accommodations are spread over several properties, including the restored water tower just outside the Main House, which was ours for a night.
The first floor of this three-story structure has high ceilings, exposed wood, a gas fireplace, and combines the bedroom, seating area, and a small bath. Up a narrow stairway, a large open bathroom takes up the second floor, complete with soaking tub and sauna. A second bedroom is another flight up. Poke your head out the windows as you climb and get incredible views of the craggy coast and picturesque town. In the morning, enjoy a full breakfast on the charming front porch (800-609-0942, www.maccallumhouse.com).
The Stanford Inn by the Sea is an irresistible resort located just minutes south of town by Big River. Perched atop a meadow, the inn boasts views of the ocean, Mendocino, and organic gardens that supply many ingredients for their popular vegetarian and vegan Ravens’ Restaurant. The inn’s eco-friendly philosophy pervades their gardens, their cuisine, and their work to protect the land.
Pine and redwood paneling and local art accent the décor of the rooms and lodge. We sampled vegan desserts in the lobby in the late afternoon and savored a huge gourmet breakfast at the restaurant (800-331-8884, www.stanfordinn.com).
Continue a little farther south and discover Glendeven Inn, an upscale boutique inn set on eight acres. The scenery includes thriving gardens and magnificent views, as well as resident llamas. Interiors are a mix of contemporary art and antiques. A three-course breakfast (with their own farm eggs!) is served in your room (800-822-4536, www.glendeven.com).
Even when Mendocino is your destination, it’s impossible to drive through the Anderson Valley AVA without making a stop. We chose Roederer Estate. They use only estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for their popular sparkling wines. Known for their body and depth of flavor, favorites included the 2003 L’Ermitage Brut, the 2004 L’Ermitage Rosé and the sweeter MV Extra Dry (707-895-2288, www.roederestate.com).
Hiking abounds in the parks throughout the county with trails at every level of experience (call for camping and pet guidelines). The Mendocino Headlands State Park surrounds the town. Nearby, walk the coastal cliffs and get knockout views of the village. In town, follow the Mendocino Headlands Trail from Portuguese Beach south to Big River. At Van Damme State Park, tour the redwood forest then end up coast side on a beautiful beach. You can also bike many of the trails or hit the water for kayaking and canoeing (916-653-6995, www.parks.ca.gov).
The town honors its founder with the Kelley House Museum. More than 150 years of history resides here (707-937-5791, www.kelleyhousemuseum.org). Nearby is the Temple of Kwan Tai, reputed to be the oldest Chinese temple in California, which has been open continuously since it was constructed in 1854 (www.kwantaitemple.org).
When it’s time to rejuvenate mind, body, and soul, the Stanford Inn offers luxurious spa treatments, yoga, nature experiences, and acupuncture. Take a swim in the pool housed in the tropical solarium. At MacCallum House, massage and spa services are available in the comfort of your room.
For fun Mendocino-only wine tasting, we headed to the Glendeven Wine Bar[n]. Small bites are served with samples of interesting wines (complimentary for inn guests). The Bar[n] is decorated with local art rotated every three months.
Mendocino is a mecca for art lovers of all kinds — jewelry, glass, paintings, sculpture, furniture, and more. Discover galleries and studios as you walk around town, but don’t miss the Mendocino Arts Center, a wonderful space dedicated to local artisans (707-937-5818, www.mendocinoartcenter.org).
There are numerous cute shops in the village. Favorites include Ocean Quilts (www.oceanquiltsmendocino.com), The Attic of Mendocino (www.visitmendocino.com), Rainsong Shoes (www.rainsongshoes.com), and Sallie Mac (salliemac.com). A Friday farmers’ market is in full bloom from May through November (www.mcfarm.org).
On the way to Mendocino, stop at the Boonville General Store for hearty fare. Their scones are some of the best. Delight in fluffy and rich organic eggs, handmade tortillas and red potatoes. Salads and sandwiches are also popular (707-895-9477).
As you stroll around town, stop at the Mendocino Market. Their New England clam chowder is spectacular, as was the special sandwich of the day (blackened snapper). They’ve got a great selection of hot and cold wraps and yummy homemade cookies (707-937-3474, www.mendocinomarket.com).
At dinner, the Ravens’ Restaurant at the Stanford Inn prepares only vegan cuisine (the balance of the day is vegetarian, too). Try the sea palm and Japanese root vegetable strudel made from locally harvested sea palm rolled in sesame phyllo and served with wasabi sauces and umeboshi plum (actually a pickled Japanese apricot). The moussaka is a scrumptious layering of eggplant, potato, tomato, zucchini, and spiced lentils with a cashew béchamel. And don’t miss the mint chocolate ganache tart for a decadent finish to a mouth-watering meal. The 2010 Masút Estate Pinot Noir is delicious (www.ravensrestaurant.com).
The Grey Whale Bar is an intimate place at MacCallum House to sip a martini and watch the sunset. Enjoy dinner there or in the Restaurant. From the house-made sourdough to luscious oysters, steamed mussels in a red curry coconut broth, and pan-seared scallops with a root vegetable whip, we loved every course. Dessert, like everything else, is made in-house. The combinationof Tahitian vanilla bean, caramel and pistachio chocolate bark, and Irish coffee ice creams paired with a local Brutacao Zinfandel Port was a sweet ending.
Mendocino County Visitors Bureau: www.visitmendocino.com