Things to do in Mendocino
Trails and beaches:
Fern Canyon Trail, Van Damme State Park (1 mile south).
This spectacular, 7.7 mile loop is well maintained with bridges and boardwalks through potentially muddy areas. Visitors can walk the entire loop or circle back at a few well-marked points on the path. Like many parks in the area, entry is free and parking is $8, which can be used at any park that day.
Big River Beach and Trail (.25 miles north).
Right in our backyard, this is one of Mendocino’s best beaches. It’s here that the majestic Big River opens to the ocean, creating easy, protected access. The wide beaches are fantastic for walking, playing, and sharing a meal, and bonfires are permitted. A 20+ mile fire trail runs along the river’s edge, where you can spot birds and other wildlife. Paddleboards, outrigger canoes, and mountain bikes can be rented at Catch a Canoe (707) 937-0273, just a short walk from our campground. Parking and entry is free of charge. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
Mendocino Headlands Trail (1.2 miles north).
This heavily trafficked, 2.5 mile round-trip walk is a must for all visitors to the area. It features beautiful wildflowers, spectacular views of the coast, and is an easy walk to the town of Mendocino. The trail is good for all skill levels and, unlike many trails in the area, dogs on leashes are welcome.
Russian Gulch State Park (2.4 miles north).
This park has a number of attractions including Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, Devil’s Punch Bowl (a large, collapsed sea cave with churning water), and a spectacular white sand beach good for swimming, tide-pool exploring, scuba diving, and rock fishing. Inland, visitors can enjoy the five-mile round-trip Fern Trail with its abundant ferns, towering redwoods, streams, and waterfall. The park also has a paved three-mile bicycle trail and other walking paths. Dogs on leash are permitted on many of the trails. Parking is $8.
Jug Handle State Natural Reserve (6 miles north).
The park features a 2.5-mile round-trip trail called the Ecological Staircase that explores five wave-cut terraces formed by the same glacier, sea, and tectonic activity that built the coastal range. It’s a gorgeous, well-marked trail that begins on the coastal bluff, moves through a windswept meadow, goes east under the highway via a spectacular staircase and ultimately takes visitors to a small pygmy forest of firs. Entry and parking is free. Dogs are not permitted.
Little River Blowhole Trail (.4 miles south).
This short loop is located on the west side of Hwy 1. The Blowhole is a natural feature near the shoreline and the Mendocino Land Trust has built a short dirt trail called the Blowhole Trail. Parking can be found along the highway outside the cemetery gates.
Glass Beach (11.4 miles north).
Unusual sea-glass pebbles cover this beach to create a magical effect and make it a favorite for all ages. Visitors can dig down into the pebbles and not find an end to the glass. Note that taking any glass home is strictly forbidden – it’s a spectator sport only! For more information visit this link: http://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/glass-beach/
Dog-friendly beaches (miles from campground):
1. Big River Beach (.2 miles)
2. Portuguese Beach, Mendocino Headlands, Mendocino. (.4 miles)
3. Van Damme State Beach, Highway 1, Mendocino. (1.5 miles)
4. Caspar Beach, 14441 Point Cabrillo Dr., Caspar. (2.4 miles)
5. MacKerricher State Park, Highway 1, Fort Bragg. (9 miles
A two minute drive by car, the village of Mendocino hosts a variety of fantastic restaurants. Our favorites include:
- Mendocino Café (707) 937-6141. A tiny eatery with deck seating and a warm atmosphere, serving an eclectic menu of Thai-inspired cuisine.
- Flow (707) 937-3569. Owned by same team as Mendocino Café with a similar menu but a better bar. The restaurant is on the second floor and has a great view of the ocean.
- Mendocino Hotel (707) 937-0511. An upscale place serving American bistro fare and California wines in a historic Victorian setting. We love eating in the lobby near the fireplace, where a full menu is available.
- Trillium (707) 937-3200. New American cuisine with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. Lunch and dinner are served in a comfortable, fire-lit dining room.
- Patterson’s Pub (707) 937-4782. A folksy Irish hangout with modern pub grub and global beers, plus weekend brunch and TVs tuned to sports. You must be 21 or older and it’s always popular, so hard to find seats if you are more than two.
- Wildfish (707) 937-3055. Just a few minutes south of the campground, this local favorite features sustainably caught fish and organic produce. We love the cozy atmosphere and ocean views.
- Good Life Cafe and Bakery (707) 937-0836. A great coffee shop with a delicious selection of breakfast and lunch items like daily soups, homemade breads, rice bowls, salads, and wraps.
- Cafe Beaujolais (707) 937-5614. Upscale, refined, and delicious. Seasonal ingredients include fresh fish, local produce, and house-baked breads.
- Harvest Market at Mendosa’s Buy all of your camp provisions and more at this upscale artisan market. You’ll find a fantastic butcher selling ground venison which can’t be beat for burgers, a deli with a great selection of prepared food, cheeses, olives and cured meatsand a small but well curated offering of locally grown fruit and vegetables. Open daily from 7:30am to 10:00pm.
- Corners of the Mouth - Cooperative Health Food and general market. This small and eclectic natural food store is located in a historical church building and is a must for all visitors to town. You’ll find great smoothies, wonderful bulk items and prepared foods. Open everyday8am -8pm.
- Local Farmers Markets - A beautifully curated farmers market with plenty of food vendors to fill in with any last minute provisions is held in the center of town from 12-2pm on Fridays. On Sunday in Albion, near the general store, farmers market is held from 2-4pm. Fort Bragg market is held Wednesdays from 3-6pm at Franklin and Laurel Streets.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
You can find this hidden jewel at the entry point to Fort Bragg. Allow at least two hours to explore the 47-acre grounds. A paved loop trail takes visitors from the highway entrance due west through gorgeous garden beds, over meandering waterways, and ultimately to a spectacular ocean bluff with seating. Check the website for seasonal showings of azaleas, rhododendrons, fuchsias, begonias, dahlias, and more. Lunch at the garden cafe is a treat. The nursery and gift shop are well stocked and beautifully curated. http://www.gardenbythesea.org/
While in Fort Bragg, Here are a few other popular food options:
North Coast Brewing Company (707) 964-2739
Piaci Pub & Pizzeria (707) 961-1133
Cowlick’s Ice Cream Café (707) 962-9271