The 10 Best Things to Do in Mendocino, United States

February 13, 2018 Timmy Ribble

Shop, eat, and enjoy the feeling of going back in time to a simpler era as you groove to the vibes of downtown Mendocino’s hippy past and quaint New England style architecture. Find a secluded bluff, and listen to seals splashing and barking. Visit the Mendocino Art Center, started by San Francisco artists in the 1950s. Enjoy a Mendocino Theater Company performance. Stop in historic Ford House, which doubles as city museum and Mendocino Headlands State Park visitors center. Mendocino Headlands State Park winds around Mendocino Bay, and is a wildlife corridor linking coast and inland areas. Savor the spring wildflowers. In July the Headlands and city are home to the Mendocino Music Festival. Groove to the ocean views, blowholes, wave tunnels, sea arches, grottos, and tide pools as you hike the beaches and cliff trails. Along the Mendocino Headlands Trail, watch for old cross-ties from the oxen-powered railway that dumped lumber to ships below the bluff. Drive 2 miles north of Mendocino to Russian Gulch State Park for rock fishing, swimming, skin diving, tide pools, bicycling, a 36-foot high waterfall, and a Devil's Punch Bowl of churning water. Savor spring rhododendron blooms at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Take the family on the half-day Skunk Train roundtrip from Fort Bragg to inland Northspur. Bird watch at Cleone Lake, a tidal lagoon in MacKerricher State Park, 3 miles north of Fort Bragg. Enjoy MacKerricher’s wheelchair accessible nature trail, Ten Mile beach, fishing, hiking, jogging, horseback riding, and bicycling. Take the kids to Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park. Tee off at the 5,458-yard, 9-hole coastal golf course at Little River Inn, which also offers llama treks. Take the family to Little River State Park and Van Damme Beach State Park, which are near Little River Airport (KLLR). Kids love the recently renovated Point Arena Lighthouse, because they can climb to the top.
Restaurants in Mendocino

1. Mendocino Coast

Mendocino, CA 95460 +1 707-961-6300
Excellent
88%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 673 reviews

Mendocino Coast

A scenic drive along California's Pacific coastline offering beaches, historic lighthouses and old-time fishing villages.

Reviewed By Chiefly1

Beautiful beaches and the coastline is really awesome with the waves crashing over the rocks. The towns are interesting as well with lots of quant little shops and some really good restaurants. Expect to pay a tad more on the coast but it really is worth it.

2. Mendocino Headlands State Park

Hwy 1, Mendocino, CA 95460 +1 707-937-5804
Excellent
78%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 418 reviews

Mendocino Headlands State Park

A scenic and appealing rugged promontory along the California coast.

Reviewed By Alzor S

There is a breathtaking array of natural things to see here from the sea in the distance to the trees and plants and wildlife that teems in the area.

3. Russian Gulch State Park

Mendocino, CA 95430 +1 707-937-5804
Excellent
71%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 225 reviews

Russian Gulch State Park

This park's view of the Mendocino headlands is enhanced by a spectacular array of wildflowers.

Reviewed By Anna and Michae... C - Soquel, California

This slice of the coast is such a beautiful spot it's almost hard to believe. You will want to see the beach and explore as well as hike some of the trails. WE did not go to the waterfall but we'll save that for another visit. The headlands are spectacular. We stayed at Van Damne State Park and that allowed us entry here too so be sure to ask if you are staying at another state park.

4. Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park

45300 Litehouse Rd, Mendocino, CA 95460-9736 +1 707-937-6122
Excellent
61%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 604 reviews

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park

OPEN 365 DAYS a YEAR -- THERE IS NO FEE -- Built between 1908 and 1909, and extensively restored, it is one of the most complete Lightstations in the U.S. and hosts visitors, vacation rentals, receptions and weddings, plus education programs for classes of local students. There is a parking area inside the gate off Point Cabrillo Drive, adjacent to the restored Kearn farmhouse with its public restroom. Enjoy the half mile downhill walk to the Light Station buildings. There is parking for vehicles with Disabled placards at the bottom of the hill. There are two paths to the Station. The dirt path begins at the north end of the parking lot and takes you through the introduced grassland and coastal prairie. The paved access road to the south is an easier walk. The Light Station includes the Lighthouse, which is an active duty Aid to Navigation, containing the original Chance Brothers classic 3rd order Fresnel lens. -- Three restored Lightkeeper homes; the first is a period museum of a lightkeeper's house in the 1930s; the other two houses are comfortable vacation rental homes, -- The restored Blacksmith & Carpentry Shop houses the Marine Science Exhibit with its 240 gallon saltwater aquarium, -- Two lovely vacation rental cottages, and public restrooms, one by the lightkeepers houses and another in the Kearn farmhouse. THERE IS NO FEE to tour the Lighthouse museum/giftshop or the period museum lightkeeper's house, although your donations are welcome. The Lighthouse, 1st Assistant Lightkeeper's House and Marine Science Exhibit are open to the public from 11am to 4pm year-round, including holidays. The State Historic Park grounds are open from sunrise to sunset daily.

Reviewed By Carina W

I am a big fan of lighthouses and this one definitely delivered. The grounds are beautiful with great ocean views and is dog friendly (must be on leash). The volunteer staff was very knowledgeable and friendly, imparting her wisdom and information about the lighthouse on us. You can stay on the grounds as well as climb up to the lantern room on certain days (check website for dates). From the parking lot it’s a 0.6 mile to the lighthouse.

5. Van Damme State Park

Hwy 1, Mendocino, CA 95430 +1 707-937-5804
Excellent
68%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 198 reviews

Van Damme State Park

Picturesque spot known for its Pygmy Forest of small trees and Fern Canyon.

Reviewed By anasazi - Saint Louis, Missouri

This option is a good workout for walkers. 8 miles roundtrip from the trailhead parking lot. Although signage indicates 7 miles. Drive thru the campground to find trailhead parking at the end of the road. The path is also suitable for mountain bikes. The Pygmy forest can be accessed via a road outside the park for non walkers.

6. Jughandle State Reserve

Hwy 1, Mendocino, CA 95430 +1 707-937-5804
Excellent
70%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 111 reviews

Jughandle State Reserve

This reserve is famous for its Staircase Trail

Reviewed By Catherine-SF - San Francisco, CA

The Eco Staircase hike (5 miles roundtrip) is not to be missed. Yes, the trail is unmarked in places, which serendipitously leads you to even more magical spots. A mostly level, easy hike, but with a few parcours along the way to keep things interesting.

7. Big River

Mendocino, CA
Excellent
73%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 82 reviews

Big River

A beautiful estuary in which to observe nature.

Reviewed By AndrewJV_11 - Jefferson Valley, New York

I did an hour's walk in the late afternoon light. It was beautiful. Started at the beach below Mendocino and walked up the old logging road to the quarry and back. The light on the river was beautiful with hawks gliding. Easy walking up the graded road on the terrace above the river.

8. Ford House Museum

45035 Main Street, Mendocino, CA 95460 +1 707-937-5397
Excellent
65%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 72 reviews

Ford House Museum

The mid-19th-century home of Jerome Bursley Ford, the founder of Mendocino, today serves as a visitors center on the region.

Reviewed By JohnnieXXXXXXX - Missoula, Montana

Very nice FREE Museum (donations accepted). The volunteer that was there when we visited was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. Lots of history and binders full of old pictures from the area. Nicely decorated, You will enjoy this stop.

9. Mendocino Art Center

45200 Little Lake St, Mendocino, CA 95460 +1 707-937-5818
Excellent
56%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 103 reviews

Mendocino Art Center

Reviewed By edward d - Bowling Green, Kentucky

We visited early on a Sunday morning (10 AM). The center was concluding what they said was a successful week. They had featured En Plein Air Artists (artists painting outdoors) that weekend, along with conducting a two hour paint-off contest.
This is a working artists-in-residence center. We enjoyed a wonderful conversation with an artist from Livermore who had entered her work in that weeks' exhibition and was also involved with the center as an instructor.
We also were able to tour the gardens outside the center.
The center is a short walk from anywhere is "downtown" Mendocino.

10. Kelley House Museum

45007 Albion St, Mendocino, CA 95460 +1 707-937-5791
Excellent
69%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 55 reviews

Kelley House Museum

Reviewed By aperel - California, USA

The museum tells the story of the Kelly family, one of the first residents in the Village, and of the logging industry in the area. There are a lot of historical objects, photos, and local volunteers help make sense of it. I had a lot of fun there.

ThingsTodoPost © 2018 All rights reserved.