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So You Think You Know Mendocino?

Consider these 10 captivating ways to venture beyond your go-to favorites in this North Coast haven

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Posted a month agoby Tina Caputo

With more than 3,800 square miles of rocky coastline, ancient redwood forests, and charming towns to traverse, Mendocino County is brimming with wonders that even some locals have yet to discover. Most folks who’ve spent time in this region have strolled along the lanes of Mendocino Village, taken a trip back in time aboard the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg, and meandered along the Highway 128 Wine Road in the Anderson Valley. Why not venture beyond your go-to spots to add new favorites? Here are 10 of Mendocino County’s most enchanting, lesser-known attractions.

Wild Fish, Little River

Wild Fish offers more than just romantic ocean views. Tucked behind a gas station/post office, the tiny, candlelit restaurant serves terrifically fresh and expertly prepared sustainable seafood dishes. Working with local organic farmers and seafood purveyors, owners Liz and Kelvin Jacobs showcase the region’s bounty through dishes such as bouillabaisse studded with wild-caught fish; roasted whole rock cod; and Fortunate Farm greens.

Fog Eater Café, Mendocino

Billed as “California cuisine with a Southern twang,” this hip Mendocino dining spot dishes up organic vegetarian fare combining the fresh, plant-based ethos of Northern California with the lip-smacking flavors of the deep South. We’re talking vegan pimento cheese, pickled deviled eggs, biscuit sliders filled with fried green tomatoes, and seasonal pies. Wash down all that Fog Eater goodness with a glass of natural wine or a low-ABV cocktail.

Pacific Star Winery, Fort Bragg

Drink in magnificent ocean views at Pacific Star, the only winery set along Mendocino County’s coastal cliffs. Located 12 miles north of Fort Bragg, Pacific Star pairs its wines with crashing waves, and maybe even a glimpse of a passing gray whale. Time your visit for a bonfire Saturday, when guests warm themselves around the fire pit while grilling BYO vittles over the Traeger grill.

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, Ukiah

Take a drive along twisty Orr Springs Road, past Orr's Mineral Hot Springs resort, and you’ll find a remote oasis at Montgomery Woods, one of Mendocino’s lushest and loveliest redwood forests. Find your zen with a soundtrack of birdsong as you walk the serene, two-mile-long Montgomery Trail and marvel at 300-foot-tall coast redwoods—one of which was once believed to be the world’s tallest tree.

Vichy Springs Resort, Ukiah

Historic Vichy Springs Resort is home to North America’s only “Vichy" mineral baths—named for the Vichy waters of France. The resort’s naturally carbonated spring water originates six miles underground and is driven to the surface by expanding carbon dioxide. Some say the warm, bubbly water has magical effects, leaving bathers with a feeling of incredible peace and tranquility. Along with mineral baths, the resort includes 700 acres of walking and hiking trails, an Olympic-size pool, and a country inn.

Thatcher Hotel, Hopland

The former Hopland Inn has been reborn as the Thatcher Hotel. While the hotel is grand and stately on the outside, its refreshingly modern interiors are outfitted with minimalist furniture, hardwood floors, and concrete sinks. The eight-room property includes an absolutely gorgeous wood-paneled library, a historic bar, a gallery showcasing rotating art selections, fire pits, and—some say—a resident ghost.

Disco Ranch Specialty Market, Boonville

Planning a picnic at one of Mendocino’s fabulous beaches, parks, or wineries? Then boogie on down to Disco Ranch, a must-stop shop for Spanish-style gourmet goodies. Along with snacks like chorizo, black truffle potato chips, and freshly made Spanish tapas, the market has a fantastic selection of international and local wines.

Lauren’s Good Food, Boonville

A local favorite, Lauren’s is the kind of place that invites you to slide into a comfy booth and enjoy some solid home cooking with a local beer or bottle of Anderson Valley wine. The menu features an eclectic array of comfort food, from sesame noodles to one of the best chicken pot pies around, with Mexican fare taking center stage on Mondays.

Smith Story Wine Cellars, Philo

This family-owned operation features delicious (and surprisingly affordable) Anderson Valley and Sonoma County wines—and even some interesting German imports when tariffs allow. Pop into the newly opened Smith Story Weingarten, a dog-friendly patio for tasting and lounging. Smith Story also offers a cool collection of vintage wine and cocktail glasses, plus paintings, poetry books and cookbooks. You may even be able to meet Lord Sandwich, the lovable winery goldendoodle.

Bohemian Chemist at The Madrones Hotel in Philo, California

The Bohemian Chemist, Philo

Newly opened at the Madrones, this Art Deco-inspired spa and apothecary specializes in skincare products and treatments made with one of Mendocino’s most famous sun-grown specialty crops. No, not wine grapes—cannabis. Choose from four different skincare treatments, including the CBD Facial—a rejuvenating experience that provides anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits without any psychoactive effects.

Before you explore, be sure to visit our Responsible Travel Hub, which includes helpful Travel Updates. Also, find more hidden gems around the state here.

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