To celebrate my birthday a couple months back my boyfriend, Peter, and I planned a short city escape to the Mendocino Coast, a Northern California location I have always wanted to visit. It served as the most ideal destination for two overworked individuals in need of some fresh air and beautiful views without having to venture too far from home.
We had the pleasure of visiting a few breathtaking inn’s along the Pacific cliffs, overlooking the ocean, while enjoying warm accommodations and a travel experience I am very excited to share. There are some serious treasures to be discovered along this small stretch of the Northern California coast.
To start our trip, we took the “scenic route” from SF, which I highly recommend, as it only adds about 30 minutes to the trip and the sights are well-worth it. If you’re driving up from the City, get off of the 101 in Cloverdale and take the scenic route through Anderson Valley wine country. Find Route 128, and take in 90 minutes of uninterrupted rolling vineyards and towering redwoods. I am excited to share a short hotel guide, based on our little adventure!
THE INN AT NEWPORT RANCH
Our first stop was at the luxurious and quirky Inn at Newport Ranch. It was among the most beautiful properties I’ve visited. The guest rooms are cozily kept but surrounded by an enormous mass of land – ranging from coastal cliffs to thick redwood forests.
First thing in the morning, we enjoyed an incredible breakfast, which was prepared for us personally. The chefs paid close attention to dietary restrictions and ensured everything was perfect for each guest, and were eager to refill our plates!
Immediately following breakfast we headed out for an ATV tour. Truth be told, I wasn’t looking forward to this at all; it had rained our entire ride up. It wound up being my favorite part of our trip. Our knowledgeable and passionate guide is the groundskeeper and friend of the Inn’s legendary designer and owner.
Our guide knew the 2000+ acres like the back of his hand. We rode along Newport Ranch’s astonishing coastlines, learned about the owner’s affinity for handmade benches, sitting unexpectedly in the most perfect and thoughtful places, spotted some playful seals swimming in and out of the caves below, and heard tales of shark attacks.
Once we covered the coast, we wove our way into the hills, where Peter got to see his first redwood tree, up close, and we both gained so much knowledge about the forest – from what salmon swim up the streams, to the freaky, poisonous mushrooms that lead to sudden, unexpected death two weeks after ingestion. We looked at fallen redwoods and were educated about the importance of these California forests and why we must protect them!
Our guide wrapped things up by taking us to the gorgeous garden next to the Inn, which is meticulously maintained for guests to enjoy and also to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the house chef to prepare daily meals.
After the ATV tour, we returned back to our Birdhouse Suite. I got to strip down and enjoy the private sauna, adjacent to our room, drink some wine, and completely relax.
It was nice being able to remove myself from reality, even though I was only a couple of hours from the city and still so close to home. I felt a refreshing sense of freedom.
THE LITTLE RIVER INN
Our next stop was at The Little River Inn, which is a bit closer to town. With it came the perfect amount of hustle and bustle – still minimal, in a quiet area like Mendocino. After checking in to our minimal but perfectly suitable oceanview abode, we hit the bar before dinner and met a couple of older gentlemen who had just finished a round of golf on the property’s course.
The food there was phenomenal. Dinner was amazing, but the real treat was breakfast the following morning. If you go to Mendocino, DO NOT LEAVE without trying the Little River Inn’s pancakes (Ole’s Swedish Hotcakes). You won’t have to take my word for it, because I haven’t heard a mention of The Little River Inn without a rave about this breakfast delight!
We took a three-minute drive (crossing the highway is a bit sketch by foot) and walked another five minutes to watch one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen, surrounded by miles of cliffs, rocks and the ocean below.
One thing Peter taught me to do on a trip we took to Croatia last year was to take in a setting by closing my eyes, and then opening them, breathing in and out in silence, thinking of nothing else than what I am seeing and feeling in that very moment for a full minute. This is how, I have learned, you take a “mental photograph” and truly remember a place – not by how it looks in a digital picture, but how you felt when you were there, in that very moment. I will never forget that sunset.
Before leaving, I treated myself to a birthday massage at The Little River Inn Spa – a small cottage tucked away between the restaurant/lodging area and the beautiful, secluded golf course that sits right behind. Hands down, it was the best massage I’ve had in years. Five million stars, I highly recommend it!
BREWERY GULCH INN
Our last stop was at the Brewery Gulch Inn, which was luxury at its finest. We stayed in the stunning Madrone Room (one of roughly a dozen magnificent suites). Peter and I had the pleasure of enjoying a delicious farm to table buffet with a group of amazing and interesting people from all over the west coast. We drank some wine and slept peacefully in one of the most comfortable beds imaginable.
There was a living space in the room with cozy leather couches, a fireplace that looked out onto the coastal cliffs, and double doors that opened to a private patio where we enjoyed yet another mind-blowing sunset.
The next morning we slept in and opted for breakfast in bed, having our final fantastic meal delivered to the room. I highly recommend the Millionaire’s Bacon (Peter and I were fighting over the last bite) and the Mango Lassi was tasty as can be. Before heading out, we burned off our breakfast with yet another long stroll around the beautiful Brewery Gulch Inn property. As sad as it was to leave, the ride back to San Francisco is an experience in itself and driving over the Golden Gate Bridge will never get old.
All in all, it was an amazing trip I will never forget, and one I hope you will enjoy soon! Mendocino is filled with magic, and must-see treasure if you are thinking of a trip along the California Coast this year!
If you are interested in visiting Mendocino, send me an email for additional recommendations, including some great wineries, fun activities, and even a couple of hidden thrift stores we stumbled upon along the way.