Along the Pacific Coast Highway on the California coast, about three hours north of San Francisco, lies the beachside community of Mendocino. Like much of the region, the town reflects the influence of the loggers and fishermen as well as the 60s hippies and counterculture artists who once called this spot home. It's also a place of stunning natural beauty. Lots of the houses available as vacation rentals in Mendocino boast panoramic views of the rugged coastline as well as amenities such as private hot tubs, washing machines, fireplaces and outdoor grills for barbecuing. Almost all are non-smoking properties; a good percentage is happy to welcome pets.
Mendocino Headlands State Park: Mendocino's geography is such that the portion of town east of Highway 1 juts out into the Pacific. On this short peninsula sits the Village of Mendocino and the Headlands State Park. With free parking and admission, the park's many acres make it easy to enjoy the spectacular coastal bluffs and picture postcard views. There are also miles of walking trails some of which lead down to Big River Beach where the Big River estuary connects with Mendocino Bay.
Russian Gulch State Park: This redwood-forested park is two miles north of town and offers great hiking in a picturesque natural setting. Unlike other state parks, it has plenty of ocean views with seaside cliffs, beaches and tidal pools. There are opportunities to swim, fish and go horseback riding. The star attractions are the Devil's Punch Bowl, a sea cave with churning waters, and the Blow Hole, a natural tunnel where water blasts in at high tide.
The heart of Mendocino is quaint Mendocino Village which is filled with restored Victorian era homes, galleries and shops. These aren't the chain stores that are found in cookie-cutter malls; instead, travelers can wander around the small, independently owned boutiques and browse among the eclectic, handcrafted goods. The setting will be familiar to fans of the "Murder, She Wrote" television show. This village by the sea, with its New England style architecture, stood in for the fictional Cabot Cove where the show's mystery-solving took place.Mendocino Art Center
Artists have been coming to Mendocino since the 1930s. This non-profit center supports promising new talent, mounts exhibitions, offers artwork for sale and holds classes and workshops.
A locale with so much natural beauty is bound to invite tourists to explore its every nook and cranny. Some of the leisure activities to take part in along the shore, out at se, or on Big River include:
The weather in Mendocino can be characterized as cool. Summer highs average 65 degrees and winter lows average 40 degrees, which means there's never much chance of encountering frigid cold or sweltering heat. Dressing in layers is the best strategy for anyone traveling to the northern California coast. The Mendocino Film Festival and the Mendocino Music Festival, which features classical, swing and bluegrass performers, are annual events that make the summer season an especially fun time to visit.
The nearest airport to Mendocino is Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, about two hours away. It's served by two carriers whose scheduled flights originate in Southern California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona. To get to Mendocino from the airport, it's possible to rent a car or take a taxi. Limited private town car and limousine service is also available. It's even possible to use the Mendocino Transit Authority system by taking a bus to Ft. Bragg and a connecting bus to Mendocino.