Where Romance Begins
It was like being kissed for the first time, exhilarating! I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
I drove up California’s northern coastline with my knuckles cramped from clinching the steering wheel, my eyes wide open capturing panoramic views of ocean bluffs and towering redwoods, and my heart racing with emotion. I felt alive. With my car windows rolled down, I allowed Mendocino to woo me. A gentle kiss of crisp morning air brushed against my cheek. It carried a scent of ocean mist and redwood musk that left me breathless. At that moment, Mendocino stole my heart.
Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this God given moment. I felt like Cinderella, rescued by her Prince and taken to a magical kingdom. It was a far cry from the daily grind of work and emails.
However, it doesn’t take much to fall in love with Mendocino. Mendocino’s simplicity, fresh air, and natural beauty captivates people’s hearts and keeps them returning year after year. Many of the locals I spoke to were once visitors like me. They fell in love with Mendocino too, and moved as soon as they could.
But what’s the attraction? Peace. Love. & Art.
Mendocino is a peaceful, artists’ colony located on a headland surrounded by state parks and the Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy long walks on the beach, hikes in the woods, or wine tastings at local wineries. Since Mendocino is three and a half hours north of San Francisco, the distance makes Mendocino feel exclusive. It takes a little effort to get to Mendocino, but the drive along Route 128 through Anderson Valley and Navarro River Redwood State Park is stunning. The route features boutique vineyards on rolling hills, winding roads with hairpin turns, and an eleven-mile stretch through Navarro River Redwood State Park to the Pacific Ocean. This is truly California’s best kept secret! There is no wonder why so many couples come here for romantic getaways, weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries, and birthdays. It’s simply magical.
Here are some Taste & See Life tips and tricks to help create your own Three Days in Mendocino adventure!
DRIVING INSTRUCTIONS FROM SAN FRANCISCO
Drive this during daylight hours to enjoy the scenery. You don’t want to miss it! I left San Francisco around 4 PM and arrived Mendocino at 7:45 PM. I made a few stops along the way which delayed my time and ended up driving through the redwood tunnel at night. This is something you want to avoid.
- Take Route 101 North across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Santa Rosa, to Cloverdale
- Take the third Cloverdale exit: Route 128 West (note: there is an exit for 128 East before Cloverdale– do not take it)
- Turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp and drive approximately ½ mile
- Turn right on 128 West (128 West is about 60 miles long; Boonville is about halfway)
- When 128 West ends, it merges onto Hwy 1 North
- Take Hwy 1 North and follow the signs to Mendocino Village
3 Days in Mendocino- Taste & See Life Itinerary
Wake up to the serenade of song birds at Glendeven Inn, a Select Registry collection of luxury Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, and Small Hotels. Take a brisk walk around Glendeven’s eight acres, feed the chickens, and visit the six llamas before breakfast is delivered to your room at 9 AM. Enjoy your chef prepared 3-course hot breakfast on your personal balcony. Take it easy and sip your second cup of coffee as you soak in the moment and plan for the day’s activities.
If you chose stay near Glendeven Inn and not drive, you can explore Mendocino’s headlands and ocean views by foot via Glendeven’s three on-site trailheads: Headlands Walk, Beach Walk, or Fern Canyon. After your hike, return to Glendeven for an afternoon massage in your suite or afternoon tea at the Farmhouse.
If you chose to explore the greater Mendocino area by car, drive north on Hwy 1 to Fort. Bragg. Start with a stop at Glass Beach. Turn left on Elm Street (Denny’s is on the corner) and follow the signs for the Glass Beach parking lot. Glass Beach was a former dumping ground and over the years the ocean’s tides smoothed out the broken glass and turned the trash into treasure. Follow the paved path from Glass Beach that extends to MacKerricher State Park where seals sunbathe. It’s a bit of a hike so you might want to bike or drive to MacKerricher State Park to see the seals. For lunch, eat at Relish (260 N. Main Street Fort Bragg) for a quick bite, but save room for dessert! Cowlick’s Ice Cream is next door (250 N. Main Street in downtown Fort Bragg) and they have the best handmade ice cream.
After lunch, drive towards Mendocino Village on Hwy 1 and walk off lunch at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Enjoy a leisure stroll through a collection of Northern California’s native plants featuring succulents, dahlias, roses, heaths and heathers. Follow the Coastal Bluff Trail to the Cliff House to admire the ocean views and rocky bluffs. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to take pictures, have a picnic, and connect with family. Make sure to check out their extensive organic vegetable garden which supplies Fort Bragg’s food bank with fresh produce. Plan to spend about 2 hours touring the botanical gardens. It’s a half mile walk from the main entrance to the ocean’s edge and there is a lot to see.
If you still have energy, stop by Point Cabrillo Light House Preserve for a view of Mendocino’s historic lighthouse. It’s a half mile walk from the parking lot to the lighthouse. The lighthouse museum offers the complete historical account of Mendocino’s origin and hosts a collection of artifacts from the original shipwreck. It’s a three part story of reinvention that all started from a Chinese merchant ship that lost its way.
Return to Glendeven Inn for happy hour from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. If the weather is clear, try to catch the sunset via the short version of the Headlands Walk. From the Glendeven Inn Wine Bar(n), cross the street towards Cobbler’s Walk and take the trailhead to Headlands Walk to the edge of the coast. It’s about a 15 minute walk, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and take a flashlight for your return trip. Second option, make dinner reservations at an ocean view restaurant and enjoy the sunset while eating a nice meal.
Sleep in late and enjoy Glendeven Inn’s soft linens and comfortable bed. After breakfast, check out of Glendeven Inn and take a drive on Hwy 1 to Mendocino Village. Stop by the Ford House Visitor Center to pick up a few maps and brochures for the state parks. Explore the galleries and shops to find the perfect memento to take home. When hunger strikes, eat lunch at Mendocino Market and Deli. Or, take your food to go and picnic at one of the state parks in the area: Mendocino Headlands, Russian Gulch, Van Damme, MacKerricher, and Spring Ranch. Spend the afternoon biking, hiking, or horseback riding.
If you want a real white-knuckle driving experience, take Hwy 1 north past Rockport to mile marker 88.5 and hike through the redwoods. The scenery is breathtaking, but the roads are cliffhangers on two lane sometimes single lane roads. This is not for the faint of heart. There are plenty of vista points to pull off the road and take pictures. On the way back to Mendocino, stop by Pacific Star Winery on mile marker 73.58 for a true coastal edge wine tasting experience.
Return to Mendocino and check-in at Sea Rock Inn, a Select Registry luxury collection of Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, and Small Hotels. Enjoy your complimentary Husch bottle of wine on your front row ocean view balcony. Don’t forget to look for whales and catch the sunset! Call Sea Rock Inn’s concierge to arrange dinner reservations at Café Beaujolais to celebrate your last night in Mendocino. Order your dessert to go, and spend the rest of your evening in your luxurious Sea Rock Inn Suite #12.
Wake up early to catch the sunrise. Walk south from Sea Rock on Lansing Street and take a right on Heeser Drive to the Mendocino Headlands. Stop by Cyprus Grove, Mendocino’s natural wedding alter which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Take a moment to be still. You might even want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming!
Race back to Sea Rock Inn’s main lobby and warm up with a hot cup of coffee. Eat breakfast in the panoramic ocean view dining room or take breakfast back to your room. Write a quick note in your room’s guestbook to journal your memories of your Sea Rock Inn stay, snap a few pictures of Sea Rock Inn’s charming grounds, and check out. Visit any last-minute Mendocino sights before you start your journey home. Take Hwy 1 to Route 128 to Route 101 to San Francisco. Make sure to drive slowly through Navarro River State Park to admire the towering redwood tunnel.
Once you enter Anderson Valley, visit Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, or Brutocao Cellars for a wine tasting. Buy a few snacks at a local market and go to Hendy Woods State Park located a half a mile off Route 128 on Philo-Greenwood Road. Marvel at the pocket of old growth redwoods, have a picnic in the park, and take a selfie with one of the giant redwoods. Continue your journey home and look forward to your next visit to Mendocino!
8205 N Highway One
Mendocino CA 95460
Glendeven Inn is a sanctuary from everyday life. It’s peaceful, exactly what a vacation should be. Rustic surrounded by nature, refined immersed with modern luxury. It’s a place where you can relax and enjoy nature without driving. You can simply be. Just wander on one of Glendeven Inn’s three trailheads and get in touch with nature. It’s that easy.
John Dixon, the owner of Glendeven Inn and Cobbler’s Walk, knows the importance of relaxation. He told me the story of how he discovered Mendocino. He was an avid cyclist from Los Angeles and stumbled upon Mendocino on a cycling tour along Hwy 1. He fell in love with the scenery and tranquility of Mendocino. A few years later, he purchased Glendeven Inn, and later Cobbler’s Walk. John is the third owner and pours his heart into every detail of his properties. From the six llamas and forty chickens to the interior design of each room, John’s influence radiates style and grace.
I was blessed to stay two nights at Glendeven Inn’s Carriage House Suite. I felt spoiled the moment I arrived. A personalized parking space, a complimentary bottle of champagne with a homemade brownie, fresh flowers, and a handwritten note from John Dixon made me feel like royalty. I enjoyed every minute of my stay here. On my last day, John gave me a personal tour of Glendeven Inn and the Cobbler’s Walk. Each room had character and a story to tell, a blend of restored antiques and modern classics. He pointed out the room the Clinton’s stayed in. He escorted me to the ocean view rooms: the Garret, Etta Suite, and Eastlin Suite. John showed me the work of his current craft, bathroom redesign. At Cobbler’s Walk, his hand-laid marble tile bathroom floors looked like a photograph out of the Restoration Hardware catalog! My tour ended with a kiss from one of the Glendeven llamas. A rare treat that few people experience. I left smitten with Glendeven Inn and Mendocino. I can’t wait to come back!
Sea Rock Inn |A Select Registry Inn
11101 Lansing Street
Mendocino, CA 95460
Sea Rock Inn is a jewel on a hill. A place of serenity, an escape from a busy life. It’s a place where you want to stop time to savor the moment with the one you love. Ocean views, well appointed coastal rooms, and an attentive staff make Sea Rock Inn the perfect environment to connect, renew, and love. But, it’s the magic behind the walls that captivates you. The stories lovers make when they stay at Sea Rock Inn. I was blessed to spent one night at Sea Rock Inn’s signature Suite #12. I nicknamed Suite #12 the “OMG” room because of the stories I read from the guestroom journal. Countless of guests, primarily couples, wrote their happy memories in the book. However, there was one note that caught my attention. A man and his wife stayed at Sea Rock Inn years ago and planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary at Sea Rock Inn in Suite #12. She died the year before their 25th anniversary. But, he returned to Sea Rock Inn and celebrated their 25th anniversary with her in his heart. That is what Sea Rock Inn means to people who stay here. It’s a powerful, emotional connection that is priceless.
I plan to return to Sea Rock Inn, Suite #12, with a husband of my own!
- Do your homework on rental car rates from San Francisco Airport (SFA). When I did my initial price comparison for rental car rates, I noticed the SFA rental car rates started at $64 a day for a compact car. I was able to cut that cost in half by renting from a Hertz two miles from the SFA airport. Hertz picked me up from the SFA Kiss & Fly drop-off location and took me to their off-site rental shop. It takes a little bit longer, but I save over $150 so it was well worth my time.
- Opt out for the Rental Car Tolling Program. Rental Car companies will charge about $4.95 per day for the toll tag plus the cost of the tolls. Cash is not accepted to pay the Golden Gate Bridge toll. You will need to pay for this in advance or up to 2 days after your crossing. There is no toll to exit San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge, but there is a toll to enter San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge. Go to https://www.bayareafastrak.org/ for more information.
- Hotel rates are less expensive outside of the San Francisco metro area. I spent my last night in California near San Rafael which is 45 minute outside of San Francisco.
It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Mendocino. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted a couple more days with this special place. There was so much yet to explore. I wanted to stay. However, my journey ended with treasured memories and stories to share.
Thank you Glendeven Inn, Sea Rock Inn, and Select Registry for providing the luxurious suites for my three days in Mendocino. The first-class accommodations enlightened my Mendocino experience. It was unforgettable!
Go taste and see for yourself!
Share this Post