Sometimes you just have to push the pause button on your work life and remember how humbling it is to stare into the vastness of the ocean. Or recognize how extraordinary it is to feel really tiny standing among and being swallowed up by a bunch of gigantic trees.
Fortunately, I was able to enjoy this splendid feeling recently as I celebrated my boyfriend Michel’s birthday with a two-day trip to Mendocino, a tiny, charming coastal town in California about three hours north of San Francisco.
The drive up to and through Mendocino boasts some of the most beautiful stretch of coastline I’ve seen. If you’re looking to get away from the Bay Area bustle for a day or two for some R&R or quality time with Mother Nature, I couldn’t recommend it more.
There are so many things to do in Mendocino and the nearby area. For the active types, there is hiking, kayaking, and tons of trails to run along, and for the gourmands in the house, there is some truly delicious food available here. Plus, sunsets. Everyone needs to stop moving and just sit on the beach and watch the sunset every now and again.
Here are some of my favorite recommendations for spending a couple days in Mendocino.
We enjoyed breakfast as Circa ’62 at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, which is just a few miles south of the town of Mendocino. And when I say “enjoyed,” I mean enjoyed. I had the Mexican tacos, which included pork carnitas, scrambled eggs, caramelized onions and jalapenos, a cherry tomato salsa, and cojita, served with corn tortillas and spicy papas bravas. Michel had the breakfast burger, which is the largest burger I’ve ever seen. And by biggest burger, I mean it was taller than his head. The ingredients were fresh and the flavor was hard to beat.
We snagged a seat at the window and got the watch a flurry of chipmunks, rabbits, quails, and other birds nibble on feed in the garden while we ate, and it was magical. Like straight out of a Disney movie magical. Plus, they had crayons out, allowing kids (and enthusiastic adults like myself) to color while waiting for their meal, they have a custom menu for dogs (!!!), and this restaurant offers a hot sauce bar that features every kind of hot sauce you could imagine.
Since it was Michel’s birthday, I didn’t subjugate him to long runs along the coastline – though that’s certainly how I would have kicked off my birthday celebration. Instead, we did a fair amount of hiking and beach walking. Just find a stretch within Mendocino Headlands State Park or Russian Gulch State Park, stroll it, soak up some sun and fresh air, and inhale the amazing ocean air as you take in the view. It won’t disappoint. Plus, everything is pretty flat, so hikers of all abilities can have a great time.
I highly recommend going to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, a short drive north of Mendocino. It’s an old dump site that is now a beach filled with sea glass, and it’s a really cool site to see. Plus, we saw several seals swimming very close to the beach and hanging out on nearby rocks.
Walk around, visit the Point Cabrillo Light Station on your way back to town, check out the visitor center to read some super cute haikus about whales and such from children, and really savor the drive as you head back down to the Bay Area. Those redwoods are out of this world.
Do you have any other recommendations for a Mendocino getaway? If so, I’d love to hear.
Happy getting away…and make it count!