Even living in the paradise that is Marin County, you may find yourself wanting to escape for a weekend once in a while. In my Weekend Getaways from Marin series I am going to cover some of my favorite weekend trips, from Mendocino to Santa Barbara to places beyond. Of course, one of the best things about living in Marin is returning — there’s no place like home.
Full disclosure, as a real estate agent my getaways are few and far between, and rarely take place on weekends, when I am busiest working with my clients…. however I thought it would be cumbersome to title this series “Monday / Tuesday Getaways!” Also please note that I have not received any compensation from any of the businesses mentioned herein- in fact as of this writing they don’t even know about this article.
Mendocino is a small historic coastal town with a population of 1100 people about 3 hours north of Marin. To get there, you take 101 north to Cloverdale, then cut over on 128 to the ocean, then take highway one north to Mendocino. One you pass through Santa Rosa the scenery becomes pretty, even along 101. And then once off freeway and onto 128 you are greeted with a serene winding country road through coastal hills, plains and the town of Boonville (a great place to stop for lunch on the way up) ending at the Pacific Ocean and the incredibly scenic Highway One.
Once you arrive in Mendocino your jaw will drop at the beauty everywhere. Located right on the ocean where Big River enters the Pacific, Mendocino is literally postcard-perfect. Charming Victorian homes surrounded by beautiful gardens, quaint stores and gourmet restaurants — Mendocino has it all. You may also remember seeing Mendocino in the James Dean film “East of Eden” and the opening credits of the television series “Murder, She Wrote.”
I won’t cover the history of Mendocino as it has been covered extensively all over the internet, but here are links to the Wikipedia Article and the Mendocino Model Railroad and Historical Society. If you are interested in the history of the town, be sure to stop by The Kelley House Museum right in the middle of town. I enjoyed looking at the displays and photographs.
What you can’t see in the picture above is my laptop – as I recall I was writing an offer for a client while I enjoyed my tea!
We have stayed in a variety of accommodations in Mendocino, from charming inns to a remodeled chicken coop to a water tower. One of our favorites is MacCallum House right in town. Built in the late 1800s, the home has been impeccably preserved and maintained. While you can stay in other buildings on the property, we like to stay in the main home and think about what it must have been like to live in Mendocino when the only connection with the outside world was via ship and later railroad. The restaurant and bar are cozy and welcoming for both dinner and breakfast. The Blue Door Inn is another of my favorite places to stay. In addition to bed & breakfasts / hotels, there are many vacation rental homes available via VRBO and similar services.
Mendocino can be pretty busy during the summer months but it always becomes quiet at night. One of my favorite things to do in Mendocino is walk around the narrow dark streets of the town, looking at the lights shining through the windows of the Victorian homes and marveling at a star-filled sky unspoiled by light pollution. Yes, you can still see the Milky Way at night in Mendocino!
What weekend getaway from Marin would be complete without great restaurants? Never fear, Mendocino is full of them. Probably the most famous is Cafe Beaujolais, right in the heart of town. They are often full so reservations are recommended. They serve wonderful meals and are especially famous for their brunch / lunch menu. We also had a great dinner at Luna Trattoria, located next door. As a southerner, I have to also mention that the fried chicken on the porch at the aforementioned MacCallum House was delicious and we were able to watch the sunset over the water towers and gardens from our table. Trillium Cafe & Inn is a fairly recent addition, and a new favorite. If you are looking for something casual, Patterson’s Pub is a local favorite and always crowded. They boast the “best stocked bar north of the Golden Gate bridge!”
We ended up having to cut our trip short as I had a showing at my Mendocino listing Sea Arches, so I wasn’t able to visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. I will leave that for a future post as I really have enjoyed prior visits to what they call the “garden by the sea.” Mendocino is truly a special place to visit and I hope you have the opportunity to do so soon.
What are some of your favorite weekend getaways from Marin?
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