This year I made a wanderlust list. Itâ€™s a list of all of the places I wanted to see this year. Once of those places was a little town called Mendocino in Northern California. I planned a little weekend getaway for Valentineâ€™s Day and Iâ€™m so happy I did. Iâ€™ve seen a lot of beautiful places in my almost 30 years hereâ€¦ but Mendocino is absolutely breathtaking and had a small fishing town vibe that I thought only existed in movies.
The drive from San Fran was about 3 hours and took us through a redwood forest and eventually along the cliffs of the Pacific Coast. Admittedly, I was a little scary being on a two-lane â€œhighwayâ€ in the middle of a cliffy forest. I knew the road would just drop off at the sides, but in the blackness, you couldnâ€™t see anything around you. This stretch lasted 62 miles. We pulled up to the hotel around 11pm and quickly realized it was a sleepy town. All the shops and stores were dark and the only thing open was Dickâ€™s, the town dive bar.
The Mendocino Hotel and Garden Suites is set back on the bluff facing the Pacific Ocean. The first things I noticed as we unpacked the car were that it was very quite and very dark. Itâ€™s a staunch difference from city living and it had an immediate calming effect on me. We received our room, which was located in one of the back garden houses. Rooms had fireplaces and were kept historically accurate, which was a selling point for me. The hotel itself was built in the late 1800â€™s and the attention to detail in all of the dÃ©cor added to its old timey charm. Iâ€™ll choose cozy over luxury any day.
We woke up early the next morning refreshed. The sun was shining, making it possible to see the beauty around us. We walked up to the main street to get breakfast and realized this sleepy town liked to open late and close early. Most shops didnâ€™t open until 11am, but we found Flow, a 2nd floor restaurant that overlooked the bluffs. They boasted some amazing locally sourced, organic dishes and they did not disappoint. Neither did the view.
After breakfast we went for a walk along the main street and wound up hiking down the bluffs onto a small beach where a river met the ocean. The ocean in this area is very rough and all beatings that the cliffs take have created caves. Iâ€™m a nervous nelly so I wasnâ€™t trying to get too close to them because with my luck, the tide would come in and I wouldnâ€™t be coming back to San Fran. There wasnâ€™t much activity in the town, but the hiking and sightseeing was enough. If I lived in Mendocino, Iâ€™d be hiking and running those cliffs every day. Breathtaking and magical and are the only words that describe the sights and atmosphere, but they donâ€™t even do it justice.
After hitting a few stores and grabbing lunch, we headed back to the hotel. I underestimated the Valentineâ€™s Day dinner crowd, so we wound up ordering room service, which was probably for the best. We had brought our own wine and spirits, lit a fire, and were able to eat in the comfort of our room. Dinner wasnâ€™t too shabby! When in a coastal town, enjoy the fish!
We ended our weekend trip to Mendocino with a walk to the headlands. When I say you can WALK the entire town and all it has to offer, I wasnâ€™t kidding. After our morning breakfast at a local coffee shop, we walked along the headlands for a few miles. My fear of heights inhibited me from getting too close to the edge, but I was able to get some beautiful shots of the bluffs and cliffs. Mother Nature is truly amazing.
Such a simple, short trip was everything I wanted and more than I had expected. Mendocino is pure, natural beauty. There is no air traffic. There are not bright city lights or traffic. Itâ€™s a sleepy town, but it makes you appreciate slowing down and taking life in. I loved every minute of it. To see more pictures from my trip, head over for FLICKR.