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Mendocino Family Travel Guide: Where to Stay and Top Things to Do!

Mendocino Family Travel Guide: Where to Stay and Top Things to Do!

If you're looking for the perfect family-friendly getaway to cure your post-lockdown travel itch, look no further than beautiful Mendocino County! 

Mendocino is known for its natural beauty, rugged coastline, inland vineyards, having the tallest Redwoods in the world, and glass-bottom beaches, making it the perfect place for endless outdoor adventure. 

Getting to Mendocino County

Mendocino County is located in Northern California, approximately 2 hours North of San Francisco and 2-3 hours Northwest of Sacramento.  It may come as a surprise, but Mendocino County is so large, it stretches for nearly 100 miles from North to South and most of the things discussed in this travel guide center around the towns of Mendocino, Fort Bragg and the Anderson Valley, as shown in the map below.     

Map courtesy of Visit Mendocino County

The most popular way to get to Mendocino is windy Highway 128 via Highway 101, through picturesque  rolling hills and towering Redwood forests.  The drive can be very windy so be sure to plan ahead and make frequent stops or if you're prone to getting car sick, take some dramamine before venturing out.

Make a pit stop in Anderson Valley

Getting to Mendocino may seem like long trip and and despite the region’s accessibility, its bucolic farmlands and untouched coast feel worlds away from city life.  When you hear someone say they want to get away and relax, Mendocino County should be near the top of the list. 

Where to Stay in Mendocino County
After a long drive to get to Mendocino, you'll be looking to relax a bit before heading out and exploring everything this area has to offer.  While there are many great places to stay along the Mendocino Coast, ranging from small inns, hotels, and Bed & Breakfasts, I highly recommend checking out the Little River Inn.

The Little River Inn is a classic coastal resort tucked amongst the redwoods in Mendocino County, California, offering sweeping ocean views, world-class dining and over 80 years of family hospitality.

Little River Inn is owned and operated by 5th generation innkeeper Cally Dym and for more than 80 years, the Little River Inn has been welcoming guests to experience the beauty of the Mendocino Coast.  The original house on the property was built in 1853 by Cally’s great-great-grandfather Silas Coombs, and in 1939, her grandfather Ole turned it into an inn.  This year in 2021, the family-run inn celebrates 82 years of providing the best hospitality on the Mendocino Coast to all guests. 

Read more about our wonderful stay here - Review: Little River Inn on the Mendocino Coast

Top Family-Friendly Things to do in Mendocino County
There is so much to do and see in Mendocino County, you could spend a weekend here or week and still not have enough time to take in all of the adventure awaiting you.  To help narrow down the vastness of things to do, here are my top recommendations for family-friendly things to add to your next trip here: 

    • A ride on the Skunk Train is perfect for families and kids of all ages and not only will everyone love the train ride from Fort Bragg on the Pudding Creek Express, but the stop at Glen Bair Junction to explore the redwood forest will be a unforgettable experience. 
  • Make a stop at Glass Beach
    • Glass Beach is a beach adjacent to MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, California, and takes its name from a time when it was abundant with sea glass created from years of dumping garbage into an area of coastline near the northern part of the town.  While it is illegal to collect glass at this state park, on our recent visit there were many people scavenging the beach looking for souvenirs to take home.
  • Visit Pennyroyal Farm
    • Enjoy a guided tour of the farmstead creamery and vineyard at Pennyroyal Farm.  The tour includes a walk-through of the solar-powered barn to meet Pennyroyal's animals and learn about the integrative methods behind their handcrafted wine and cheese. 
    • The tour concludes with a cheese tasting for everyone and wine (ages 21+) or juice for kids (and non-drinkers)
  • Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
    • Located on 47 acres running from California Highway 1 to the Pacific Ocean, this magnificent site includes manicured gardens, canyons, coastal bluffs, wetlands, and a closed-cone pine forest with 4 miles of coastal trails to explore.

  • Explore the majestic Redwood forests
    • Mendocino County boasts some of the world's largest Redwood trees and viewing them up close is awe-inspiring to say the least
  • Explore State Parks and Beaches
    • There are many State Parks and Beaches to explore located all throughout Mendocino County, listed below:
    • Admiral William Standley State Recreation Area, Branscomb
    • Caspar Headlands State Natural Reserve, Mendocino
    • Caspar Headlands State Beach, Caspar
    • Greenwood State Beach, Elk
    • Hendy Woods State Park, Philo
    • Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, Caspar
    • MacKerricher State Park, Fort Bragg
    • Mailliard Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Yorkville
    • Manchester State Park, Manchester
    • Mendocino Headlands State Park, Mendocino
    • Mendocino Woodlands State Park, Fort Bragg
    • Mill Creek Park, Talmage
    • Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, Ukiah
    • Navarro River Redwoods State Park, Elk
    • Pt. Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, Mendocino
    • Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino
    • Schooner Gulch State Beach, Point Arena
    • Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, Garberville
    • Smithe Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Leggett
    • Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area, Leggett
    • Van Damme State Park, Little River
    • Westport-Union Landing State Beach, Westport

Have you been to Mendocino County?  If yes, is there anything I missed or things you recommend?  

If you want to see more, check out related posts below or head on over to Instagram stay connected!

Travel Note:

As you may know, Mendocino County is now fully open in alignment with the State of California Covid-19 guidelines. Mendocino County welcomes you to the County and reminds you that there are extremely limited medical services due to the small population.

Please help keep the community safe from Covid-19 spreading by continuing to:

  • Wear a mask whenever indoors with other people
  • Wash or sanitize your hands when entering or exiting buildings
  • Make space for others in hallways and aisles
  • Stay home if you feel ill and have symptoms associated with COVID-19 such as cough, fever, or trouble breathing

For additional information visit

Disclosure: Special thanks to the Little River Inn, Skunk Train, and Liquid Fusion Kayak for hosting us as part of a Mendocino Family Travel Weekend.  As always, all opinions are my own.