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. 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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 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.
After the train ride, we still had a few hours before we could
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, there you have it our Mendocino weekend getaway. Have you been? Do you want to? Let’s chat in the comments!