We would like to thank Maple Creek Winery, Little River Inn, The Skunk Train, and Brewery Gulch Inn for having us as their guest for our Mendocino weekend getaway. Our Accommodations and tickets were provided to us in exchange for our honest review. As always, this post contains our honest opinions and experiences. 

I will admit before this little Mendocino weekend getaway I was quite unfamiliar with Mendocino. I knew it was in California, and that it was north of me (of course this is an easy assumption since we live in San Diego much south and we leave the country). If I am honest, I thought it was near Santa Barbara. If you share this thought with me, I will inform you, it is not. It is VERY north. It’s about 3 hours north of San Fransisco. After exploring the area we learned that it is indeed a well-kept secret, a secret kept too long! We are here to spread the word! Mendocino is quiet, quaint and so beautiful and you need to visit!

We are gluttons for punishment and decided that we would drive the 10 plus hours to Mendocino from San Diego.  On the way there, we left in the evening and actually grabbed a quick Airbnb in Bakersfield, about halfway, for a quick snooze. We started off early up north.

Maple Creek Winery

Our first stop was for a wine tasting. You can’t visit Mendocino without stopping at least one winery. The whole area is covered in vineyards and there are tons of wineries as you drive through to the coast. We are not wine people. In fact, we knew very little about wine but since we were coming to wine county we couldn’t not at least do one tasting. Artevino Maple Creek Winery so graciously hosted us for a tasting so we didn’t have to make a choice on which one of the many we would do. I am so glad this is where we ended up! 

Maple Creek Winery, Mendocino weekend getaway

As you come up the driveway you see a welcoming sign with the wineries slogan: “Enter as strangers, leave as friends” We hoped this would be in the case since we two newbies were unsure of how this experience would go. We continued up the drive and got out of the car to be greeted by Buster, the Australian shepherd. This was a good sign. Anywhere with dogs is a place to be. (We would soon find out that the whole Mendocino area is VERY dog-friendly, we were a little sad our furr stayed at home). We were greeted but the owner, Thomas, as we walked in.

Thomas and his lovely bottles of wine. The labels are designed by him as well. Maple Creek Winery
Thomas and his lovely bottles of wine. The labels are designed by him as well.

We shared some stories and he took the time to show us proper wine tasting and told us all about the history of the lovely winery and his amazing art, featured on the walls and on the labels of the wine. Midway through another couple come in and we all quickly made friends. We left with good stories, wine tasting skills, 4 new friends and 2 bottles of wine. All in all a good stop. 

Read more about our Maple Creek Winery Experience.

Little River Inn

After wine tasting, we continued up the road to the coast. Our first night was to be spent at The Little River Inn. This place immediately feels like home, probably because it is a home that has been converted to an Inn. We walked in and were greeted by the friendly and inviting staff. We were given our keys along with pertinent information and assured if we need anything to just call 0.

The Quaint Little River Inn. A perfect spot for a Mendocino Weekend Getaway

Our room was just a few doors down from the office just past the dining room. Walking on the deck to the door we enter to find a spacious room with vaulted ceilings, a cozy fireplace and furniture perfectly placed to take in the stunning ocean view from the room’s large windows. A large bathroom with a double vanity and steam shower complements the space.

The stunning view from the porch and Little River Inn.
The stunning view from the porch and Little River Inn.

We had dinner in the dining room. It’s a nice space, you walk through the bar that overlooks the ocean (at the right time of year you might even see whales, hence the name “Ole’s Whale Watch bar“) The dining feels high-end but still remains a casual homey feel. The food was very good! Especially the bread, pretty sure I will have dreams about that bread. We also had a dessert featuring Olallieberries, which I had never heard of. We spent the rest of the night enjoying the sunset from the comfort of our room. 

Ole’s Whale Watch bar, Little River Inn
Ole’s Whale Watch bar

In the morning we had breakfast in the dining room. The fresh-squeezed juice was so good and the meals were cooked to perfection. After breakfast we toured the golf course, we sadly didn’t have time to play around ourselves. After exploring the rest of the Inn and grabbing a selfie with Ole’ we headed out to Ft. Bragg. 

Little River Inn is the perfect place for a Mendocino weekend getaway, read more about our stay at The Little River Inn.

Sun setting at Little River Inn

Fort Bragg and the Skunk Train

The Skunk Train

We had tickets for the 1 pm skunk train in Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg is the bigger of the cities we visited. That does not, however, mean that it is in fact, big. It is big enough for a Starbucks! We stopped in for a drink with my discount. All of the main things in the town are right along HWY 1 so you don’t have to worry about finding anything.

The Skunk Train Station

The train is midway through town, the station is also a gift shop, the ticket counters are inside, you board the train just outside. They really try to maintain the history of the train. The conductor and the other employees wear traditional uniforms and they even loudly announce “all aboard”. The train has 3 cars, two with seating, one with a concession stand (that is cash only BTW) and one open car in the middle that allows you to stand and see the views along the way.

The Skunk Train, A must do on the a Mendocino Weekend Getaway

The trip lasts about an hour and goes 7 miles so it’s not a fast train. The leisurely ride gives you plenty of history of the train and the area and views of the redwoods. A musician plays train-themed music and a photographer captures the train goers. 

A musician sings train themed music on the skunk train.

The Skunk Train was a fun top on our Mendocino weekend getaway. Read more about our journey and for more information on the Skunk Train.

Fort Bragg

After the train ride, we still had a few hours before we could check-in at the Brewery Gulch so we opted to explore Fort Bragg a little more.

North Coast Brewery

Sharing the parking lot with the train station is North Coast Brewery. David being the beer connoisseur he is was excited to see the brewery so we walked over and had a look. They don’t currently offer brewery tours so we just went to the shop where David was able to get some beers he hadn’t tried yet for much cheaper than the store. There is a taproom across the way but opted to skip a tasting since it was still a bit early in the day. 

North Coast Brewery, Fort Bragg Mendocino County

Cowlick Ice Cream

We instead walked over to an ice cream shop that I saw on Yelp, Cowlick. The name caught my attention because it was cute. It also has great reviews. Since it is just a couple of blocks from the train station we just walked.

Cowlick's Ice Cream in Fort Bragg Mendocino County

It’s a fairly large place, we lucked out and just missed the rush that we didn’t know was about to happen. David got the Skunk train sundae in honor of us just riding the train. I got Hokey Pokey ice cream. It may have been the best Ice cream flavor I have had, If not the best it’s on the top 5 for sure. I should have gotten a bigger cone…

Cowlicks hokey pokey ice cream
Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Glass Beach

The last stop in Fort Bragg was Glass Beach. Glass Beach is an interesting and unique beach, it is called glass beach because of all the sea glass that is mixed into the sand. While very pretty and shiny there is something also very sad about it.

View from glass beach, Fort Bragg, Mendocino

Sea glass is glass that has been broken and smoothed by the waves, which means is litter, we polluted so much glass into the ocean that mother earth made a whole beach of it. Nonetheless, it’s a very nice beach with lovely views of the ocean so go check it out. 

Up close look at the sea glass at Glass Beach Fort Bragg, Mendocino
Up close look at the sea glass at Glass Beach Fort Bragg

It was just about check-in time so we headed to Mendocino. Brewery Gulch Inn is just outside of this town. We opted to stop in town on the way for some chocolate from a local shop. There were so many cute local shops that we couldn’t stop snacking at all of them. This place had all sorts of chocolates and goodies. We got a bear paw and some raspberry bark. Both good. 

chocolates at Papa Bears, Mendocino
Yummy chocolates at Papa Bears

Brewery Gulch Inn

When we arrived at Brewery Gulch Inn we were both taken aback. It is just nestled on the side of the hill, hidden from the main road. The building is made of wood and looks so natural amongst the trees. The plants and trees are mature and well maintained. It feels like a cabin in the woods. We were greeted by a friendly front desk attendant. He showed us around the main space and then took us to our room where he showed us the room and its amenities.

Brewery Gulch Inn, a great place to stop on a Mendocino Weekend Getaway

There is a sense of community here which we loved. There is plenty to do in the main areas, including board games and books. Dinner and breakfast are served in this area too.

Dinner at the Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino

Dinner is a fixed “light” dinner. It was a full meal with salad, a main course with steak, noodles and vegetables then wine poached pears for dessert. Beer and wine were included too.

View from the Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino. The perfect getaway

We went to our room to enjoy the sunset from our room. The view of the cove was stunning from our balcony. Champagne came with the room, and it was actually good! I don’t usually like champagne at all.

Trail at Brewery Gulch, Mendocino

In the morning, we got breakfast, there is a small menu to order from and there is a special too. After breakfast, we walked down the trail that leads down into the property. There is a cute pond then the path leads down to the main road where you can walk Brewery Gulch road and get even more views of the cove. 

Brewery Gulch is the perfect place for a Mendocino weekend getaway.

The Road Home from Mendocino Via HWY1.

Unfortunately, We had obligations that made us have to keep the trip short so after our walk, we headed back down to San Diego. We took the 1 down to Santa Cruz, where we had friends we were going to visit there. As stunning as it is it did add quite a bit of time to our already long trip back. We did, however, find a couple of worthy places to stop along the way. 

A view from highway 1, on the road home from Mendocino after our weekend getaway

First stop is just 45 minutes south of Mendocino. It’s called Franny’s cup and saucer. It’s a tiny little bakery with tasty treats (heads up, cash only). We got a couple cookies for the road. 

Frannies cup and saucer just 45 minute from Mendocino

Point Reyes

From there we headed out to Point Reyes, a recommendation from the nice couple we met at the winery. We got a glass of Mead at Heidron Meadery and took a bottle of later, then we grabbed half of a chicken for lunch at the Side Street Cafe. Lastly, we took a stroll through the Cowgirl Creamery, it was too busy to sample the cheeses on our time constraint but I would recommend doing so if you have the time. 

Heidron Meadery, point reyes, california. A stop on our Mendocino weekend getaway

We made a dinner stop in Santa Cruz to see our friends and then finished off the journey back to San Diego. 

I began this trip with little knowledge of Mendocino, I left after these two short days charmed by the place and wishing I had more time to spend there. I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Mendocino and a stay at Little River Inn or Brewery Gulch is the perfect place to do it. 

If you have more time for your weekend getaway in Mendocino

As I mentioned, we had prior obligations at shorted the amount of time that it would be able to spend in Mendocino. Should you have more time there is several things you can do, here are just a few we would have added to our stay for a longer Mendocino weekend getaway:

Stop at the Swiss village just north of Bakersfield 

Stay an extra night in Little River to play a round of golf. 

Ride the Skunk Trail rails by bike instead.

Take a hike. There are tons of parks in the area and tons of hikes through the beautiful forest. We would have done the Russian Gulch hike to the waterfall. 

Want to see more from our trip? Check out this fun video!

So, there you have it our Mendocino weekend getaway. Have you been? Do you want to? Let’s chat in the comments!

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Show 22 Comments


  1. I’ve never heard of Mendocino. The area is lovely, and I would love to make a trip there. Granny’s Cup and Saucer is adorable, and the locally-owned wineries look so cool! What a charming place!

  2. Pam

    What a fun weekend – I love exploring towns, checking out delicious places to eat and tasting good wine! Sounds perfect.

  3. This trip looks fantastic! I think my kids would enjoy the Skunk train and the Hokey Pokey ice cream for sure 🙂

  4. So darling!This is a great idea for a get-away. The ice cream looks yummy, and that view of the cove is to die for!

  5. Lisa

    What a cute town! I love the sea glass. Is it near the redwoods?

  6. kmf

    Love everything in this post…and that sea glass is so pretty!

  7. I love quaint small towns. So much charm! I have never been to a glass beach, but I want to go. So beautiful.

  8. I had no idea it was so far north either. It looks like a fun little city to visit, perhaps on my next trip to California!

  9. I’ve heard of Mendocino but have never been. I love NorCal and know there’s so much more to see and do beyond North of Napa. Great post

  10. What a great trip. I absolutely love finding little hidden gems like this. Thanks for sharing your fun adventure!

  11. alison

    I’ve never heard of this town which just confirms there is so much I need to explore in this country. Looks like a great stay and love the train ride especially with a band. How fun. Great getaway and it’s funny so many people don’t realize just how big California is, hence the 10 hour drive.

    • Yes! There is so much to see here it’s true. And yes. Even I didn’t fully realize how big it was. After all of that driving we still were hours way from the border to the next state!

  12. Lisa

    Mendocino looks so charming and quaint. I will need to stop by the next time I’m in California.

  13. We would enjoy visiting the winery. Love learning about the history of the winery.

  14. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Appreciate it

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