I spent a weekend in Mendocino recently and completely fell in love with the place. With its magical coastal scenery, breathtaking sunsets, picturesque B&Bs, delicious food and wine, Mendocino is the ideal weekend getaway. You might even catch a glimpse of a migrating whale spouting off the coast.
Getting there is half the fun. The 3h20 drive from San Francisco is gorgeous, foggy or not. You go through wine country (Anderson Valley) and, in the last stretch, redwoods.
The town was founded in 1850 as a logging community. Many of the town's early settlers were New Englanders, Portuguese fishermen and Chinese immigrants, which explains the peculiar presence of a small Taoist temple in town (built in 1850, it is believed to be the oldest of its kind in rural California). It also explains why the town feels so much like New England, except that you are on the other side of the continent.
A few places worth a stop
Cafe Beaujolais: Farmhouse turned restaurant back in 1977, serving French-Californian cuisine. Try the Dry-Aged Liberty Duck Breast.
Goodlife Cafe & Bakery: Delicious and healthy baked goods. Great terrace to meet locals. Tons of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
MacCallum House: Charming Bed & Breakfast (in a 1882-Victorian house) with a great bar and restaurant.
Circa '62: Restaurant outside of town serving delicious and colorful breakfasts.
Ledford House Restaurant: Also outside of town (in Albion), this place has the best views. Sit at the bar overlooking the Pacific and order oysters. They also have live jazz nights.
Toulouse Vineyards & Winery: In Anderson Valley (about 45 minutes from Mendocino). Amazing pinots. One of the best kept secrets of Mendocino County.