Mendocino is located on the California coast, where the river meets the sea. Mendocino is a lovely old logging and sawmill town located along Highway 1. It is known for its lush woods, smashing waves, spectacular headlands, and tide pools filled with marine life.
This is not simply a beautiful spot to visit whether you are a visitor or seeking for activities to do in Mendocino with your family. It also has an impressive selection of art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Anything from award-winning wines to exquisite seafood delicacies to basic cuisine and sweets designed to catch your Instagram eye can be found here.
This holiday resort will captivate you not only with its natural beauty, but also with its charming architecture.
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- 1 Mendocino, California has 18 amazing things to do.
- 1.1 Hiking around Russian Gulch State Park.
- 1.2 Stay at the Glendeven Hotel & Lodge.
- 1.3 Go to Big River Beach.
- 1.4 Pay a visit to the Kelley House Museum.
- 1.5 Van Damme State Park is a must-see.
- 1.6 Pay a visit to the Mendocino Art Center.
- 1.7 Pay a visit to the Mendocino Farmers Market.
- 1.8 Explore the Pygmy Forest
- 1.9 Pay a visit to Jug Handle State Natural Reserve.
- 1.10 Skunk Railway Railbikes Ride
- 1.11 Visit Mendocino Headlands State Park.
- 1.12 Go to the Ford House Museum.
- 1.13 Big River Haul Road Hike or Bike
- 1.14 Big River Kayak
- 1.15 Pay a visit to the Point Cabrillo Light Station.
- 1.16 Visit the Kwan Tai Temple.
- 1.17 Roederer Estate Wine Tasting
- 1.18 Go Whale Seeing (In Season)
- 2 Finally, here are the 18 Best Things to Do in Mendocino.
Mendocino, California has 18 amazing things to do.
Hiking around Russian Gulch State Park.
Mendocino County +17079375804CA-1
I was apprehensive to go to Russian Gulch State Park. I did hear so many amazing things about it, but I didnt know what to expect when I initially arrived. In my view, it is one of the greatest outdoor experiences you can have in Mendocino County.
If you merely want to stroll along the shore, there are various pathways accessible. The Coastal Path is ideal for a walk since it is level and handicap accessible. Those with mobility impairments may also enjoy it because of its paved surface and pleasant walk.
This route, the park’s most well-known attraction, offers some stunning ocean vistas. You may also stop at one of the picnic tables in this area for a picnic lunch or a short rest while hiking.
Stay at the Glendeven Hotel & Lodge.
My time at the Mendocino Glendeven Hotel & Lodge was fantastic. The ambience was pleasant and serene, the pricing was fair, and they welcome pets. I stayed in a studio cottage, which was ideal for two. Larger accommodations are available for larger parties, as well as a poolside BBQ area and a petting zoo.
This Mendocino lodge wonderfully represents what draws visitors to the area: quiet and beauty. The motel is located on a forested hillside outside of Mendocino and overlooks the thick redwood forest.
It’s easy to see why this town draws so many people, from those who come for wine tasting to others who come to climb, raft down the river, or just rest in one of the antique inns’ rowing boats. And staying in this fairy lodge for at least one night should definitely be on your list of things to do in Mendocino.
Go to Big River Beach.
Big River Beach was a favorite swimming site for a buddy from Santa Rosa, California, who was residing in Mendocino County at the time. I understood what she was saying after seeing the location myself. The river beach included large, flat boulders, making it an ideal location for leaping into the frigid water.
Big River is unusual in that it is continually changing due to its location directly on the ocean. When they clash with the river current, strong Pacific waves deposit and destroy sand.
You may visit a variety of beaches, add or remove sand based on the tides, and experience the bank-filled erosion and sand deposition.
Pay a visit to the Kelley House Museum.
Albion St, +1707937579145007
Mendocino is densely packed with historic residences, many of which can be seen from the street since the whole town is designated as a Historic Protection District. On weekends, the Kelley House Museum conducts historical walking tours to learn about the restored residences.
Two-hour walking excursions showcase Mendocino’s pioneering history and historic sites from the 1850s.
On Saturday, October 31st, I had a guided tour for the Halloween edition of the Kelley House Museums Hauntings and Hallowed Histories tour.
It’s no surprise that I leapt at the opportunity straight immediately, since I’m interested with ghost tales in general, and particularly historical areas where hauntings have happened.
Van Damme State Park is a must-see.
If you can’t make it to Northern California for a camping vacation, there are plenty of other ways to go into the heart of the forest and experience the majesty of the redwoods. Van Damme State Park, a forest preserve with accessible trails, a wheelchair-friendly campsite, and even an accessible beach, is one of the top things to do in Mendocino.
The park’s famous trail, Fern Canyon Scenic Trail, runs 2.5 miles along the verdant banks of the Little River. Because of its dense canopy and the continual sound of running water, Fern Canyon Scenic Trail links with other hiking routes to explore further into the canyon.
Beginner divers visit Van Damme State Park’s sheltered cove to explore the coastline and see various kinds of fish, including surf perch, cabezon, kelp greenlings, California sheep heads, sculpins, and beaked sculpins.
The Highland Meadows Campsite inside Van Damme State Park offers a variety of campsites in the heart of Northern California to make your getaway unforgettable.
Camping options range from freshly developed, premium pull-through RV sites to sites that accommodate both your tent and your horses. With easy access to local activities and facilities, you’ll enjoy a fantastic vacation.
Pay a visit to the Mendocino Art Center.
+1707937581845200 Little Lake Street
I admire the Mendocino Art Center for its contribution to the preservation and restoration of Mendocino Village. Every year, the Art Center attracts notable artists and experienced educators and provides over 150 seminars in ceramics, sculpture, and fine art.
Every year, the Mendocino Art Center hosts community workshops with various guest artists. Students are welcome to visit during their open studio hours. The center, which is situated in Mendocino Village, is continually adding exhibits.
There are also a number of neighboring galleries, restaurants, historical museums, and other attractions.
If you or anybody in your party like art, put this on your list of things to do in Mendocino. They will appreciate it afterwards.
Pay a visit to the Mendocino Farmers Market.
44901 Main Street
Every Friday between 12 and 2 p.m., the Mendocino Farmers Market is held in historic downtown Mendocino. Every evening, live music is played in the market, and fresh fruits, nuts, and crafts are available for purchase. The farmers market is surrounded by antique houses and cottages on Main Street. Mendocino also commemorates the second Saturday of the month.
In addition to the Taste of Mendocino event, which offers cuisine from participating local restaurants at two sites across town, art galleries are accessible for art enthusiasts, and a used bookshop sale with over 30 merchants and live musical performances is hosted inside the old city hall. With so many fresh fruits and veggies, this is the ideal farm to fork destination.
Explore the Pygmy Forest
The Pygmy Forest, located inside Van Damme State Park, is home to a succession of tree stumps barely higher than three feet, and a visit here is one of the top things to do in Mendocino. Trees generate vertical roots, and when these roots reach bedrock, the trees cease growing. When people cut down the trees, the leftover root systems resemble stumps.
But, in this forest, numerous trees have grown taller than three feet, providing an outstanding picture opportunity that will have you feeling you’re in a region far away from Northern California. Some of the photographs I took are incredible!
Pay a visit to Jug Handle State Natural Reserve.
Fort Bragg in Mendocino County is around 20 miles from the city and a popular tourist site. Fort Bragg is desirable all year, but it is especially appealing in the winter because of its moderate temperature.
Visitors may sleep out for the full weekend at numerous parks and campsites in the vicinity, including the Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, Porter Creek Campground, and Ten Miles Park Campground.
The award-winning Jug Handle State Natural Reserve is one of my favorite Mendocino County vacation spots. This route, hidden along the Northern California coast, is both a natural achievement and a gift to tourists.
The three-mile segment, like many routes in Mendocino County, has steep terrain and coastline vistas. Throughout the trip, you’ll pass through several sandstone terrains that provide stunning vistas unlike any other on the earth.
Skunk Railway Railbikes Ride
Even before you reach at the Skunk Train station in Fort Bragg, the unusual name will pique your interest. The Fort Bragg Railroad was established in the 1880s as a way of moving lumber. It got its strange moniker in the 1920s, when a combination of gas-powered engines and heaters that burned crude oil to keep passengers warm generated a foul stench like skunks.
Everyone should ride a skunk train railbike whenever feasible. Mendocino features one of California’s most gorgeous coasts. The redwood-covered high undulating slopes are breathtaking. Riding on the antique steam engines through sections of the hike-only area of the forest is well worth the money.
Visit Mendocino Headlands State Park.
The Mendocino coast is known for its breathtaking and long vistas of nature. Anybody willing to wander along the sandy beaches and wooden boardwalks that run out from tiny Mendocino Town may enjoy the vistas along this length of coastline.
Big River Beach is one of the top things to do in Mendocino since it has limitless beaches for exploring, resting, and taking in the scenery. Extend your stay at Big River Beach to include it in your Mendocino holiday plan.
Know this: The Mendocino Coast’s bluffs are vulnerable owing to erosion and may give way beneath your weight. Stay away from the cliff or bluff edges if you wander in a park or along the shore.
Go to the Ford House Museum.
Main Street +1707937539745035
My visit was made all the more intriguing by the fact that I spent the most of it in a slight state of shock. That’s because I’d never heard of any of this before. In other words, I wasn’t anticipating any of it, and that’s because Ford House Museum is both a museum and a tourist attraction.
In 1854, Jerome Ford and his spouse Martha erected the house as their home and the first sawmill in Mendocino.
Len Peterson, a Mendocino-based artisan, has created a scale model of the county as it was in 1890. Historical images and relics from the town’s history are on exhibit. Explore the exhibitions and view movies on many themes.
If you elect to take a docent-led tour or lecture while you’re there, you’ll learn a lot about the area’s natural history, plants, and animals. You may arrange for a tour in advance by contacting the staff.
Big River Haul Road Hike or Bike
Big River Beach and Mendocino Woodlands State Park are linked by a ten-mile route. In the summer, you may bike or trek along the dirt road while picking blackberries. This path is also suitable for equestrian riding.
The landscape along the haul road was stunning, with plenty of wildflowers in bloom and many of birds to see, ranging from kingfishers to cormorants and blue herons. There is a horse camp along the road where tourists may stay overnight.
Big River Kayak
A visit to Big River is also one of the top things to do in Mendocino due of the stunning scenery for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. It is a tranquil, class one river that is about eight miles long. You may make the most of your vacation in Mendocino by renting a boat.
You may want to think about hiring a sturdy oak outrigger boat. Each one is handcrafted from reclaimed wood from ancient redwood barns and comes in a variety of sizes.
My visit was entirely focused on kayaking. A two-hour excursion on the Big River with Mendocino Sea Kayaking and Outfitting was enjoyable.
These typically cost roughly $50 per person, including equipment rental; often, you will be required to put down a deposit or pay the whole fee in advance.
Pay a visit to the Point Cabrillo Light Station.
Litehouse Road, 45300
One of the most gorgeous lighthouses I’ve seen is the Point Cabrillo Light Station. Because of the great remoteness and degradation of the Mendocino beaches, this lighthouse became a romantic haven.
Because of its seclusion, unlike virtually every other lighthouse in California, the Point Cabrillo lighthouse is no longer utilized as a navigation aid and may be visited anytime people choose. It is also possible to volunteer for five hours every week at the light station to assist clean up and repair it.
Visit the Kwan Tai Temple.
45160 Albion Street
The Temple of Kwan Tai honors the Chinese deity of battle. The exquisite temple was erected in the late 1800s but was destroyed by fire in 1902.
The temple was eventually reconstructed, but regrettably went into ruin until it was renovated by the Global Center of Compassionate Cultivation in 2001. The temple, a California Historic Landmark, is claimed to be the earliest Chinese Joss House in rural California.
It is a Chinese shrine managed by a Taoist priest that provides a variety of activities. Despite the fact that I am not a member of this faith, they were kind enough to provide advice on how to reach inner peace. I’d never been to a temple devoted to Tai Chi or the Chinese god of battle before, so this was an interesting new experience for me. Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, visiting here should be on your list of things to do in Mendocino.
Roederer Estate Wine Tasting
Mendocino County is famous for many reasons, including its gorgeous coastline, the Anderson Valley, and its wines. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting a Mendocino County boutique vineyard.
Roederer Estate Winery was founded in Reims, France, by Pierre Raymond Roederer, who manufactured sparkling wines under the name Roederer Estate on his family’s wine estate, Maison Roederer.
Roederer Estate offers sparkling wine tastings on the outdoor terrace or by appointment in the tasting room. You can even try a magnum!
Go Whale Seeing (In Season)
Every year, I look forward to the gray whale migration or the once-in-a-lifetime chance to view them. From November and April, these colossal creatures may be seen along California’s Mendocino Coast as they move south in the winter to Baja California and then back again in the spring to their Arctic feeding areas.
Consider arranging a whale-watching excursion if you are visiting the Mendocino Coast between November and April. Gray whales travel south each year to the warm waters of Baja California’s lagoons to reproduce.
Finally, here are the 18 Best Things to Do in Mendocino.
Mendocino Village is undoubtedly an oasis of unique chances if you want to relax, but there is even more fun to be enjoyed if you want to explore. If you wish to explore the region further, go a few miles north to Fort Bragg and the Lost Coast.
If you like trekking, travel a little distance south to the Round Valley Reservoir region. Depending on how much time you have available and your interests, the list might be fairly lengthy. In a nutshell, Mendocino is well worth a visit!