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Mendocino, California: A Foggy Hike in this Gem of the North Coast

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

Summary: The town of Mendocino is a popular weekend getaway for those in the Bay Area. Located about 3 hours from San Francisco in the County of Mendocino, this tourist destination has approximately 850 residents with almost their entire economy centered around weekend travelers. Here, we hiked the Mendocino Headlands State Park trail and enjoyed some much-needed down time in our cozy Air BnB. Mendocino is a dog-friendly town with many dog-friendly trails, lodging, and dining options.

Where to Stay. Mendocino offers several boutique hotel experiences but all of them were more costly than we intended on spending for a weekend getaway. For a most cost sensitive option, we recommend the AirBnB we stayed in, which was located just down the road from the town of Mendocino. It is dog friendly and was more than suitable for our family of four.

Weather. We visited Mendocino on Labor Day weekend. Typically, late summer and early Fall is the best time of year to visit, in our opinion. You are more likely to get a sunny day but for us, we still ran into the typical morning weather of thick fog. That being said, the temperature was mild and we still enjoyed the day, even in the fog.

Hike Mendocino Headlands State Park. Our first morning in Mendocino started with a hike at Mendocino Headlands State Park. This is a 4-mile, flat hike that follows the ocean bluff. Dogs on leash are permitted. Even on a foggy day, the hike is quite beautiful.

Tidepools. In certain sections of the hike, you can carefully access the water to view tidepools. Be especially careful to watch out for waves that can sweep you off to sea in a blink of an eye. There are plenty of safe sections away from the water where, depending on the tide, you can view sea life.

Walking to the Town of Mendocino. The trail takes you to a picturesque viewpoint that combines the beauty of Northern California ocean bluffs, with the quant town of Mendocino. Here, there is water access where dogs can be found playing on the beach.

Dog-Friendly Town. One thing to note is that Mendocino is a super dog-friendly town. Everywhere we went, visitors walked with their furry friends. Many restaurants have outdoor seating with dogs allowed at the tables and many hotels allowed dogs. Our two, Buster and Bella, had a great time.

Town of Mendocino. One option is to skip the "back" of this "out and back" trail, and instead head into the town of Mendocino. From there, make your way back to the car on foot through the City streets. We did this and also stopped for lunch while were were at it. The town itself is super cute. It has your typical seaside tourist shops with clothes and chocolate but even if not particularly unique, it is a pleasure to see. The entire downtown is walkable in about ten minutes.

Where We Ate. The only downside to this popular town was just how busy all the restaurants were. Understanding that the post-pandemic world has led to a shortage of workers, we went into it with some patience. Even so, it did take a very very long time to grab lunch. We ended up at the Good Life Cafe and enjoyed a meal out on their outdoor patio.

After lunch we strolled back to our car and then enjoyed some much-needed downtime back at our AirBnB. That evening, we broke-out some games we brought and enjoyed a fun family game night.


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