Mendocino is a coastal town north of San Francisco – a good distance for a weekend getaway. It’s beautiful, in a cold and wind-swept way, not a “sunny beach” experience at all. You’ll find art galleries, interesting historical sites (logging, fishing, hunting), very damp but spectacular hikes, and excellent seafood. It’s also the “Napa is too touristy for me” wine tasting option, popular with Bay Area folks.

Nearby Elk is especially gorgeous if you’d like an even more remote setting, with stunning cliffside beaches.

My notes cover a fairly large geographic area – I’ve found it typical to do a lot of ranging over the countryside for dining and exploring, especially if wine tasting is on the agenda.

Restaurants – Mendocino

  • **Cafe Beaujolais: very good, local/fancy, a tad formal. In central Mendocino.

Restaurants – Surrounding Towns

  • ***Ledford House (Albion): great, I had a memorable meal during mushroom foraging season that focused entirely on that ingredient, with great diversity
  • **Uneda Eat (Boonville): tasty pizza, lots of to-go options, nice wine selection. The best of the limited Boonville options.
  • **Apple Farm (Philo): not a restaurant, but I love this place, stop for homemade gifts and truly special apple butter.


  • **MacCallum House, Mendocino: Cute and convenient, friendly staff. Stick with rooms 7-12; the rooms in the main house all smell like the restaurant.
  • [haven’t been] Harbor House, Elk – looks stunning, would love to stay here
  • The Boonville Hotel and Restaurant is a good option for a wine-centric visit, but in my experience it’s almost impossible to get a room, not a large place and it books out far in advance.

Wine Tasting (around Philo)

This is an especially scenic and convenient area to go wine tasting, with top-notch offerings. 

  • **Handley Cellars Winery is a favorite: very pretty rural setting, good affordable wine
  • **Navarro Vineyards & Winery was my go-to winery for years, quite affordable, big range, friendly tasting room
  • **Roederer Estate is a classic stop, formal and higher end pricing, focused on sparkling wine
  • **Scharffenberger Cellars: another good bubbly destination, less expensive and formal than Roederer.
  • **Toulouse Vineyards & Winery is some of the best wine around, fairly priced. The winemaker is typically on hand, a nice place to stop for a tasting.

Around Jenner

Jenner is likely to be a bit far south for the average weekend, but worth a stop on the drive up.

  • **River’s End, Jenner, CA: Very old fashioned, great view. Pricy and average food, but it’s a nice experience.
  • [haven’t been] Timber Cove Resort: mod-1960s cool, well reviewed
  • Fort Ross was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America from 1812 to 1841. I loved it as a kid and as an adult, a really interesting site with a lot of back story (get a tour).
  • **Franny’s Cup and Saucer (Pt. Arena): an especially good bakery, good for a lunch snack or breakfast treat

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