Wild poppies on the Mendocino coast.

It’s no secret California has plenty to offer. From its pristine beaches to Disney Land to trek-worthy wineries to awe-inspiring greenery and forests and so much more, there’s never a shortage for things to see and do in the Golden State.

The quaint and quiet allure of California’s North Coast, particularly Mendocino County, makes it a popular stop for almost anyone, showcasing much of what the state has to offer outside of its glitz and glam. Nature lovers will fall in love with the old growth redwoods, and couples will appreciate the idyllic romantic allure and peacefulness that abounds.

Whether you’re on a romantic adventure, a family road-trip vacation stopping along some smaller towns or just some solo time wandering where the WiFi is weak and the peacefulness is powerful, Mendocino is the place for you.

One of the beautiful things about this California destination is that it’s not over-crowded — it’s somewhat of a hidden gem and a little out of the way. Coming from Houston, the easiest bet is to take a nonstop flight into San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento, rent a car, and drive the beautiful two to three hours before arriving in Mendo, as locals refer to it. 

Here are six things to see and do in Mendocino County.

Majestic redwoods in Mendocino County.

Taste California’s Secret Wineries, Surrounded by Redwoods

Go Wine Tasting , away from the crowds of Napa and Sonoma. More often than not, when you visit a tasting room here, you’ll meet the person who picked the grapes, giving you a visceral wine experience. Though this wine region may not ring a bell, Mendocino County has the most acreage of certified organic vineyards in the entire country.

Image: Max Whitaker

Visit the “Champagne Baths”

Vichy Springs Resort is the oldest continuously operated spa in California, and offers the only naturally warm and carbonated "Vichy" mineral baths in North America. Don’t miss the hot mineral pool set in an ancient travertine onyx formation, complete with a replica of Monet’s bridge on the way through the 700-acre private reserve. With a day on glorious hiking trails, followed by 14 soaking tubs and an Olympic-sized pool, Vichy is the perfect place to spend the day.

Canoe up Big River

Make your trip even more memorable by renting an outrigger made out of old redwoods or a kayak and take in the beautiful sights from the thriving ecosystem that is Big River. Located right on the breathtaking Mendocino Coast, Big River Estuary is the second longest in all of California (8.3 miles) and remains undeveloped, making it one of the most visceral spots to take in all of the natural beauty that surrounds this land. A gentle waterway, it makes for a peaceful experience (though it’s tough work on the way back facing the wind), but you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of nearby river otters, Great Blue Herons and other wildlife throughout your trek.

Take a Hike in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Whether you want to drive through the park in the comfort of your car or get out and explore on foot, Humboldt Redwoods State Park is known internationally for its rich history and heritage. Redwoods are known as “living fossils,” where some of the oldest redwoods range from several hundred years old to as much as 2,000 years old, attracting visitors from all over the world. The Stratosphere Giant, the largest tree in the world is located at this park, standing at over 370 feet tall. 

Little River Inn.

Image: Max Whitaker

Experience First-Class Accommodations with the Best View on the Coast

This quaint, low profile town gives off wanderlust vibes at every stop. Inns like Little River Inn don’t have good cell service, but at check-in, they make sure to tell guests they can use the hotel phone to make free calls from your room, so you’re not totally disconnected. However, being present in the exact moment is where you want to be at this this luxurious Victorian inn, perched on the Pacific. Golfers take note: here is where you’ll find the only golf course on the Mendocino Coast.

Shop Local

Be sure to stop at charming Boonville General Store to grab a glass of local wine, coffee or delicious snack from the bakery, whether for the road or to create a picture-perfect picnic. Another bonus pitstop is the Westside Renaissance Market, a favorite neighborhood store that supports small-scale local farmers and producers (not to mention the best beer selection in the entire county).

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