Road trip on California's Highway 1- Mendocino
Updated: Apr 1
One of the beautiful things about living in San Francisco is the easy access to panoramic Route 1 along the Pacific Coast. Either going South or North it's a guaranteed scenery that takes my breath away and makes it one of the best views in this world.
This time we headed North on H-1, crossing the Golden Gate bridge, making our way through Sonoma County and all the way to the Jenner coast.
Jenner is a small town on the mouth of the Russian River with great views, you can find many state parks nearby and walk on the beach. Like any other town on the California coast you can have foggy days and others sunny. Even in the summer so prepare for both.
It was a foggy early morning and started driving on the coast right at Jenner, as the road narrows and you see cliffs on your left side, you can't help but to wonder about the fall from that height, so this time I wasn't driving and got to enjoy the views.
Windy road along the coast and eventually the fog burned off so we could see more clearly the ocean, the redwood and oak tress lined up by the road and the spectacular 180 or more degrees from the road. Amazing.
On our way north we passed several towns that I hand't heard of before and even though small, they all have a strong character, personality and mostly that resilience of living on the edge of the world, where not one but many faults (San Andreas the most famous one) reside, and the tectonic plates meet between California and the Pacific Ocean. So yes, earthquakes in this area are common and that's why I find these small communities along the coast to be resilient and strong.
It is about a two-hour drive from Jenner to Mendocino and in between the towns of Gualala, Point Arena and Elk (among others) are the perfect intepretation of California beach towns. Small, quaint, with farmers markets, antique shops and other unique shops. It's worth stopping by them and grabbing food. We found the best organic-homemade berries jam and some freshly-baked bread and that was our snack on our way up.
You will know when you arrive to Mendocino. It's a hidden jewel in California that you don't hear much about and now I know why. Because they want to keep it low key, they don't want everyone from Bay Area to come, move and increase the real estate prices as it's happening everywhere in the state. However, locals were really friendly, there's no sense of traffic, rush, apps, and all this stuff that makes our lives so hectic.
Beautifully positioned on a plateau facing and contrasting the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Deep ocean with waves breaking against the rocks holding the ground of Mendocino. Blue skies as I can remember, green grass and flowers and a cool breeze flying through all parts of town. It was a perfect summer day.
There are so many inns and B&B's to pick from, for us it was the Bluedoor Inn that got us. Booked like two days in advance as it was a slow weekend and they have three properties in town. All three of them meticulously designed and decorated, with fresh cookies when you check-in and wine hour at 5.00pm. It felt like we were visiting an old friend with amazing taste in an old victorian home.
For meals you don't have to worry, there are many restaurants with all types of food but obvisously if you like seafood you should do that as it's fresh, catch of the day, local oysters, and all the things that you usually get at a fancy restaurant without its freshness. After all, the fishermen are catching it all in their backyard.
We also found a local market with a great selection of wines, bread and organic produce. So we decided to get a bootle (or two) of Rose and take with us on a hike along the coast. Once on the hike we found our perfect spot by the water and popped that bootle of Rose with some leftover bread and jam from Gualala. Cheap, unique and those views!
Spent about a day and a half there and on our way back we stopped by Boonville with is another trending spot inland with wineries and b&b's starting to pop more but at a much lower key than the rest of Sonoma and Napa for sure.
It was a very unique way and the first impression that Mendocino left in me will be hard to erase. I will always remember the blue skies and blue deep ocean with a cool breeze hitting my face and thinking how this beautiful coast was created millions of years ago and still we get to enjoy it now.
No matter where you live, if you come to visit California make the effort to go to Mendocino. It's not super easy to get there but that's part of its beauty, otherwise everyone would know of it and would visit. As for me, I will keep exploring more of the California coast. Priceless.