Mendocino gets much mention as the "New England
Village of the Pacific Coast." The town was founded by
loggers and lumber barons from Maine who built their
homes, stores and inns in the New England style. A visit
today gives former New Englanders startling remembrances
of times past.
Set on a rugged headland facing the ocean,
the town began as a lumber port at the mouth of the Big
River with most of the houses constructed between 1840
and 1860. Flower children of the San Francisco Bay Area
found Mendocino to their liking in the 1960s and brought
an artistic renaissance to the area.
Mendocino is a favorite visiting place for
couples on romantic weekends, and the little town is an
easy morning's drive from San Francisco.
You could make it an all-day adventure by
driving north along Highway 101 from the Bay area, then
turning west to reach the coast via State Route 128,
driving through the Anderson
Valley with its fine wines and friendly wineries.
Another way to drive north to Mendocino is to take the
very scenic Highway 1, along the Pacific Coast through
and then the southern coast of Mendocino County.
Mendocino is in the midst of a wonderful
recreation area with scenic state parks, hiking trails,
cliffs and headlands to walk along.Whale watching has
become a growing pastime of visitors to Mendocino. The
huge gray whales make their northern and southern
migrations just off Mendocino Headlands. Fort
Bragg, with more to see is ten miles north of town.
You catch the Skunk Train there.
A good place to start your visit to
Mendocino is the Ford House Visitor Center, an
1854 home that now is the town information center.
Mendocino Headlands State Park winds along the ocean
shore, with several trails leading to small beaches.
Mendocino Art Center and Gallery,
45200 Little Lake St., offers exhibits of photography,
painting and crafts and is open year-round. Summer
performances feature drama, dance and musicals.
The Kelley House Historical Museum &
Library, 45007 Albion St., provides historical views
of the region in another old home built in 1861 for
settler William Kelley. The museum's gardens feature
plantings from a century ago. The building and gardens
are open daily, during afternoon hours.