People often forget that there’s beautiful, wild coastline north of San Francisco. Most people flock to Big Sur for the weekend. I choose Mendocino, every time. It feels so much more remote. There are fewer people, good food, and tons of public land to explore. Read on for my picks on how to spend a weekend in Mendocino.
Get some Cowlick’s candy cap mushroom ice cream
You might be thinking “Ew, mushroom ice cream?!”, but trust me, it’s delicious. It doesn’t taste like mushrooms at all.
Hike Russian Gulch’s Fern Canyon and Waterfall Loop
If there’s a hike that you must do while in Mendocino, it’s the Russian Gulch Fern Canyon and Waterfall Loop. This spot is breathtaking, from the falls to the lush canyon to the redwoods. If you’re short on time, skip the loop (it’s stunning, don’t skip it), just don’t miss the waterfall.
Hop Aboard the Skunk Train Railbikes
Hop aboard the Skunk Train Railbikes for a new way to travel by rail. This hour-long “bike” ride takes you along Pudding Creek and second growth redwoods. Don’t be fooled; these bikes are a workout.
Wander around the famous Glass Beach
Did you really go to Mendocino if you didn’t stop by Glass Beach in Fort Bragg? Formerly a dump site, Glass Beach is living proof that trash can once again be beautiful. The beach gets its name from all the broken glass, worn smooth by the ocean.
Go Tidepooling at Mackerricher State Park
The tidepools at Mackerricher State Park are a fun way to pass an afternoon, or a morning. You’ll need to check a tide chart to make sure you have a low or negative tide. Otherwise, you won’t be able to see the goods, but it’s so scenic that you should visit anyway.
Stop by the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are any nature lover or plant parent’s dream. This botanical garden is unlike any other due to its location directly on the coast. The 50-plus year-old staghorn fern is well worth paying the $15 admission fee. The rest of the gardens (especially the succulent garden) is fabulous too. If you’re not into plants, there are still plenty of hiking trails here to explore.
Get lost at the Ten Mile Sand Dunes
Block off a whole afternoon for the Ten Mile Sand Dunes ’cause you will need it. This spot is an easy place to get lost as you wander around looking for the biggest sand dunes to slide down. Hint: the tallest ones are located behind the Fort Bragg Community Center.
Where to Stay in Mendocino
The Inn at Newport Ranch is an absolute dream. Stay here to truly escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s so dreamy, you may never leave the property with its North Coast-inspired farm-to-table meals.
An equally delightful second contender is the Little River Inn. Part culinary destination, part weekend basecamp, the Little River Inn is located close to all the state parks, including Russian Gulch State Park above.