Mendocino County is the ideal destination for an unforgettable getaway. It’s a place where culture merges with Mother Nature and is home to countless unique experiences for visitors. Did you know that over 3,000 types of mushrooms grow in Mendocino County, over 500 of which are edible? Or that Mendocino County has the most acreage of certified organic vineyards in the country? Mendocino is also home to 90 miles of coastline, 46 miles of river frontage, lakes, rolling vineyards, and state parks with more than 150 miles of trails. You’ll have to return again and again to experience the magnitude of unbelievable options at your fingertips in Mendocino County. We created a Mendocino County Bucket List to help get you started.
Mendocino County Bucket List
Number One: Attend the Mendocino County Mushroom, Wine, & Beer Festival
When you just can’t get enough of Mendocino County’s bounty, head for the Mendocino County Mushroom, Wine, & Beer Festival. As the flavors of fall arrive in Northern California’s Mendocino County so does the annual crop of coveted candy cap, chanterelle, porcini and hedgehog mushrooms. The Mendocino region is home to some 3,000 varieties of mushrooms, over 500 of which are edible. Take part in this ultimate fungi fest this year from November 3 to November 12 with a variety of mushroom-inspired events including fungi foraging and key food and wine gatherings. To cap the fest, 25 regional hotel properties are offering special packages throughout November.
Number Two: Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree
Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree is one of only three drive-thru trees in California. Located approximately 180 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, visitors have the unique opportunity to take a picture of their vehicle inside the opening of the tree. The tree is 305 feet tall and 58 feet in circumference (18.5 feet in diameter).
Number Three: Attend the Mendocino Crab, Beer, & Wine Festival
This regional celebration of the North Coast’s bounty offers all-you-can-eat crab feeds, winemaker dinners, a crab cake cook-off, wine competitions, crab cruises, and cooking classes. Restaurants, inns, B&B’s, winemakers, craft brewers, and artisan food vendors join in the celebration, offering seafood specials and events throughout Mendocino County. Taking place from January 19, 2018 – January 28, 2018, it’s the ideal way to kick off your yearly Mendocino County bucket list.
Number Four: Explore Russian Gulch State ParkThis park is known for the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, a headland that features the Devil’s Punch Bowl (a large, collapsed sea cave with churning water), and a beach that offers swimming, tide pool exploring, and rock fishing. Inland, there is a 36-foot high waterfall. Hikers enjoy miles of hiking trails. The park also has a paved three-mile bicycle trail.
Number Five: Visit a Brewing Company
If you’re looking for something new, Mendocino County is home to the Ukiah Brewing Company (the nation’s first certified organic brew pub). If you’d prefer your experiences extra aged, then take a break at the Mendocino Brewing Company (the first brew pub to be established in California after prohibition).
Number Six: Skunk Train Northspur FlyerExplore the massive redwoods in a fun, old-time way with a ride on this California classic. This 4-hour round trip departs Willits and climbs the Eastern slope of the Coastal Mountain Range before descending down into the Noyo River Canyon. You’ll travel through the world’s tallest trees and arrive at Northspur, the midpoint of the railroad, where you can disembark for an opportunity to walk around and marvel at the other trains before returning to Willits.
Number Seven: Mendocino Coast Botanical GardensThe Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are one of only two public gardens in the continental United States with direct ocean frontage. They are a delight in any season. Wander through the different environments out to the clifftop cabin for spectacular views.
Number Eight: Explore The Pygmy Forest
Mendocino Pygmy Forest is an oligotrophic community caused by podzolized (nutrient-poor, highly acidic) soils. The forest flora is dominated by dwarfed Bishop pine, Bolander pine (a variety of shore pine), and Mendocino cypress. These trees may be 100 years old or older yet they are as tiny as saplings.
Number Nine: Dinner at TrilliumTrillium Cafe is located right in the middle of Mendocino village. It’s beautiful and cozy, with a fire place and ocean views. They offer an outside deck, which has ocean views of Big River Bay and their beautiful culinary flower garden. Order the Roasted Vegetable Strudel with grilled polenta, roasted asparagus, cauliflower, olives, and red pepper puree wrapped in a freshly baked strudel. It rivaled a filet mignon for taste and fills your mouth with scrumptious flavors.
Number Ten: Dinner at the MacCallum HouseThe renowned MacCallum House Restaurant, located on the main property, serves local, seasonal, organic Northern California cuisine created by executive chef Alan Kantor. Save room for dessert because the cookie plate is worth the extra calories.
Number Eleven: Visit a Winery
The Mendocino County wine region is not only beautiful, it’s cutting edge too. Mendocino County grows more varieties of grapes than anywhere else in the United States and it’s known as “America’s Greenest Wine Region.” Fetzer Vineyards is the largest certified organic grape grower in the state of California. Parducci is the first carbon-neutral winery in the country, and the third in the world. Mendocino County has the most acreage of certified organic vineyards in the country.
Highway 128 Wine Road is a spectacular 75-mile drive dotted with wineries, quaint towns, and towering redwoods. Stop in at any of the tasting rooms along Highway 128 Wine Road to experience some of the finest wines of Mendocino County.
Number Twelve: Catch-A-Canoe & Bicycles TooKayak up Big River on a locally made, hand-built redwood canoe. The staff are super laid-back and helpful and the peacefulness on the river is remarkable. You might catch a glimpse of local wildlife or hear the sound of an eagle’s wings flapping as it flies overhead.
Number Thirteen: City of 10,000 Buddhas
The City of 10,000 Buddhas is an international Buddhist community and monastery founded by Hsuan Hua, an important figure in Western Buddhism. It contains a university, schools, a vegetarian restaurant, and the remarkable Jeweled Hall of 10,000 Buddhas, in which 10,000 images of Buddha line the walls.
Number Fourteen: Glass BeachGlass Beach is the well-known southern beach of MacKerricher State Park in Fort Bragg. Glass Beach gets its name from the smooth colorful glass pieces that you can find in the pebbly beach. The site was once a trash dump so broken bottles from garbage cans of local residents are now little treasures to be found and photographed (and left behind).
Number Fifteen: Stay at MacCallum HouseThere is nothing quite like a stay at MacCallum House in the heart of Mendocino Village. Surrounded by lush gardens and expansive lawns, their main property has nineteen rooms as well as an acclaimed restaurant and bar. The Inn also includes MacCallum Suites, a luxury mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At MacCallum Suites, every luxurious Mendocino County bucket list dream is fulfilled from soaking in a large tub with jets to sleeping on a fluffy cloud of heavenly sheets.
Number Sixteen: Patrona Restaurant and Lounge
Patrona Restaurant and Lounge is located in the heart of beautiful Ukiah. It’s softly lit with warm brick walls, filled with hand crafted tables from local artisans and run by a staff that cares. Bridget and Craig, two winery chefs, opened Patrona in 2003. The simple goal was to enjoy the great area they live in and share it with our family and friends. Their menu changes are based on the day’s catch from the ocean, fruit and vegetables from their garden, and produce and meats from local vendors.
What’s on Your Mendocino County Bucket List?
Mendocino County offers tranquility amidst a restless sea and thick forests. If you’re shortening the Mendocino County bucket list based on time or availability, don’t leave out Catch-A-Canoe & Bicycles Too or the Russian Gulch State Park. They are two unbelievable experiences suitable for all ages that really shouldn’t be missed. If you stay at MacCallum House, do me a favor and ask them where they buy their sheets. And don’t forget to save lots of time for driving along route 1 because the wild north waves are magical.