Cruising the Mendocino Coast
The Mendocino Coast is dotted with some of the most breathtakingly beautiful views this side of, well, anywhere.
It captivates in different ways at different times of the year. Its vistas are well suited to winter and early spring, when fog is less present and whale-spotting begins.
In summer, it offers cooling and mystical appeal when inland temperatures lure visitors to the coast.
Most people get to Mendocino’s coast via the Anderson Valley. Highway 128 cuts a lovely swath 15 miles from Boonville northwest through Philo, and continues another 15 miles toward the Pacific Ocean.
It’s among the coolest places in California to grow grapes. The ocean influence drifts in precipitously along the Navarro River and up the valley’s hillsides and ridges, where grapes hang long and low, maintaining natural acidity.
After a series of gentle twists through redwood forest, Highway 128 meets the coast and California’s famous Route 1. Heading north, the small towns of Albion and Little River offer comfy inns and fresh seafood, as well as rugged beach stops and campgrounds.
The gem of the coast is the town of Mendocino itself, set on a wind- and wave-swept bluff out of central casting.
Book a room at one of several B&Bs or historic hotels and say goodbye to the car. Restaurants and cafés await within walking distance.
Recipe Courtesy Grey Whale Bar, Mendocino, CA
The Grey Whale Bar adheres to the local, sustainable ethos of Chef Alan Kantor, who, when seeking a sparkler to add effervescence to this martini, goes straight to his Mendocino neighbors at Roederer Estate.
Fill a shaker with ice.
Add 2 ounces Skyy vodka, 1 ounce St-Germain, ½ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice, ½ ounce Roederer Estate sparkling wine and 4 dashes of orange bitters. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with 1 dried rose bulb and rose petals and serve.
And Don't Miss:
In the Anderson Valley town of Boonville, Anderson Valley Brewing Company holds its legendary Boonville Beer Festival each May. Inexpensive camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds. North of the town of Mendocino, coastal neighbor Fort Bragg is home to North Coast Brewing Co., maker of PranQster, Brother Thelonious and Old Rasputin, its Russian imperial stout.