Overlooking a rocky cove, the Little River Inn has been a go-to spot for secluded getaways along Mendocino County coast since 1939. About a 3½-hour drive north of San Francisco, the graceful Little River Inn makes for a worthwhile stop even if you’re just passing by. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel romantic here—the resort’s 225 acres/91 hectares of forests and gardens are braided with hushed paths, and vistas open up to never-ending ocean views.
But if you’re lucky enough to book a room here, you can choose from seaside accommodations with whirlpool baths and cozy fireplaces. Bring binoculars if you reserve an ocean-view room—your private veranda makes a perfect perch for whale watching (and sunsets). Indulge at the inn’s on-site spa with a seaweed body scrub. Golfers can play at the inn’s challenging course, the only one along the Mendocino Coast. For wilder adventures, arrange to go ocean kayaking, or stroll along driftwood-strewn Van Damme State Beach, adjacent to the inn’s property.
The 1853-era main building houses the inn’s elegant-yet-relaxed restaurant, which is known for its fresh seafood and wine list showcasing award-winning North Coast wineries. Classic preparations get a local nod, such as sole meunière using petrale sole caught by fishing boats based in Noyo Harbor, just up the coast. Other don’t-miss items include green lip mussels with wasabi mayo and fried calamari with Asian slaw. (You don’t have to stay the night to dine here.)
For a more casual dining option, head over to Ole’s Whale Watch Bar, a favorite hangout for locals thanks to its tasty craft cocktails and own incredible views. In addition to the bar menu (think crab ravioli, briny oysters and crispy calamari), the full restaurant menu is also available.