The Mendocino Coastline is a visual feast and a prime spot for adventurers and romantics alike. Come to think of it, aren't they one and the same? Some suggestions below.
Where to stay: St. Orres in Gualala is an onion-domed fantasy right on Highway One. Nothing stuffy here, though, just easy livin' on the coastal trail. The food? Fantastic. (707) 884-3303. Rates are $60-$180 for a double room. The Joshua Grindle Inn in Mendocino has ten quaint rooms, all with private bath. Breakfast here is tops, and you can do it all again once you get home if you take their "Mendocino Mornings" cookbook with you. The inn is on Little Lake Road; rates are $110-$195 double occupancy. The Whitegate Inn is every girl's dream, but then dreamy girls do make their boys pretty happy. The seven rooms at this splendid hostelry feature a private bath, fireplace and color TV, while the inn's garden is a flower festival. And yes, there is a white gate. The Whitegate Inn is right off Ukiah Street in the Mendocino town center. Rates are $129-$249 for a double room.
Where to eat : Cafe Beaujolais has been a destination restaurant for years, and that's still the case. Don't leave town without a meal here. Start with the seared day boat scallops with coconut milk and black chanterelles and continue with the Niman Ranch veal marinated with garlic and Beaujolais herbs and served with a port wine jus, saffron risotto and spring vegetables. Yum! Plenty more choices, too. Cafe Beaujolais is at 961 Ukiah Street in downtown Mendocino. Dinner only seven nights; reservations essential. Count on $100 for two with wine. Mendo Burgers is also worth a visit while in Mendocino. So what if it's a little greasy? Carnivores will be in heaven.
What to do: The coast, both from highway level and down at surf's side, is the main reason why you're here. Look for signs that say "Coastal Access" and head for the beach. It may be too cold for a swim, but with any luck, the sun will be shining and you can engage in assorted other beach-y pursuits (in case you're stumped, that means reading, sunning, flying a kite or throwing the ol' frisbee.) Hiking on the many area trails is also good fun -- consider the Mendocino Hiking and Equestrian Trail off Little Lake Road. Strolling around the town of Mendocino is a blast from the past, at least if you grew up in a certain era. The New-England like setting reeks of charm and will put a smile on anyone's face. Popping into Mendocino Jams and Preserves (they always have samples available) and the Gallery Bookshop are musts; the Mendocino Hat Company is de rigueur for a new chapeau.
A little bit more : Be sure to head for the grassy point at the end of Main Street in Mendocino. It's windy, but the views are spectacular. Watch kayakers as they try to negotiate the blowhole below. Finally, savor every twist and turn along Highway One from Bodega Bay (south) to Leggett (north), where Highway One meets U.S. 101. You'll get everything from coastal views to the redwood empire along this stretch of road.
There's a lot more to do along the Mendocino coast but you'll have to read the story to find out!
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