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Mendocino

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A charming seaside community, the Village of Mendocino possesses unique unsurpassed beauty. Steeped in foggy clouds mingling with clear blue skies, the village appears romantic and is a perfect place to stroll through, so you can see the bright colors of historic buildings stretching several blocks along Main Street that are occupied with shops, museums and restaurants to enjoy.

When strolling through the town, pay attention to the architecture and browse through the plenty of fantastic galleries and gift shops that sell unique items.

For handmade furniture, pottery and crafts work go to the Highlight Gallery, while the Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle’s Children’s Book offers a wonderful selection of books for children and adults. Another popular stop is Mendocino Jams & Preserves, where you can taste little bead chips with natural, locally made gourmet fruit spreads. In fact, gifts and food are not ordinary in Mendocino. McDonalds and other chain restaurants and shops are absent from the landscape filled with individually owned stores offering everything from deli pastries, fresh salads and healthy smoothies to Irish gifts.

Take a walk along the paths near the shops that overlook the ocean on Main Street. Edible berries grow wild along the grasses and trails. The walk is pleasant and the views are stunning. It only requires 15 minutes to escape city life and find beauty in the serene setting that unfolds before your eyes.

Art lovers will appreciate the unofficial headquarters of the town, the Mendocino Art Center, also known for its gardens, galleries and shops where you can see on display and buy local fine arts and crafts.

Wander the grounds of the Mendocino Presbyterian Church with its steeple and historic presence as the oldest Presbyterian church in continuous use in California, the building of which was constructed of redwood.

Having explored the town, walk out onto Mendocino Headlands State Park which stretches around the town and offers panoramic views of sea arches and hidden grottos, as well as three miles of trails winding through the park. The Mendocino Headlands State Park is home to many unique bird species, and in spring the beautiful wildflowers blanket the area, with blackberries growing beside the trails. Behind the Mendocino Presbyterian Church on Main Street, the trail leading to the stairs will take you down to a small, but picturesque beach.

On the Southern side of the town lies Big River Beach, which you can access from Highway 1 and is perfect for walking, sunbathing and having picnic. You can explore the Big River by renting a kayak, a canoe or outrigger, and, if you are lucky, you may come across osprey, blue herons, harbor seals, deer and wood ducks.

You can also rent a mountain bike and explore the nearby state parks on wheels. Besides The Mendocino Headlands State Park, there are also other state parks within a short drive or bike. For instance, Manchester State Park where the San Andreas Fault sweeps to the sea, then Jug Handle State Reserve featuring a 2.5 mile nature trail called the Ecological Staircase which explores five wave-cut terraces formed by glacier, sea and tectonic activity that built the coast range. And finally there is Van Damme State Park, offering a sheltered and easily accessible beach. You may have a voyage aboard the party boat or take a wale-watching tour. Lost Coast Kayaking, in Van Damme State Park, offers guided kayak tours of the multitude of sea caves on the coast and provides all the necessary equipment.

Just North of Mendocino is Russian Gulch State Park which is one of the most spectacular parks of the region. Here waves crash against the cliffs that protect the coastal redwoods of the park. The hottest attraction of the park is Punch Bowl, a collapsed sea cave forming a tunnel through which crashing waves create throaty echoes. Inland, there are numerous trails which are perfect for hiking, biking and horseback riding, including a gentle, well-maintained 3-mile long Waterfall Loop that winds past tall redwoods and damp green foliage and reaches a 36-foot high waterfall.

There are plenty of options where to stay in Mendocino. In the very heart of the town is Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites, evoking the times of the Golden Rush in California. The interior of the hotel will take you back to the 19th century: beveled-glass door opening into a Victorian-style lobby and parlor, antique furniture, Remington paintings, Persian carpets, and stained-glass lamps. Guest rooms feature hand-painted French porcelain sinks with floral designs, old-fashioned wallpaper and beds as well as old photographs and memorabilia of historic Mendocino. Many deluxe rooms feature fireplaces and modern bathrooms, and suites have an additional parlor, as well as fireplace or balcony.

Now the oldest B & B of Mendocino, Joshua Grindle Inn features redwood siding, a wraparound porch and emerald-green lawns. All rooms have well-lit, comfortable arranged sitting areas, some offer fireplaces. The Library Room has a New England feel, with its four-poster pine beds, floor-to-ceiling bookcase, and the 19th century tiles around the fireplace, depicting Aesop’s fables. Sherry, sweets and tea are served in the parlor in front of the fireplace, whereas breakfast is served in the dining room.

One of the top accommodations of Mendocino, MacCallum House Inn & Restaurant is a historic 1882 gingerbread Victorian mansion, featuring uniquely decorated guestrooms, furnished with many original pieces – a Franklin stove, a handmade quilt, a cushioned rocking chair, or a child’s cradle. All feature private bathrooms, many with claw-foot or spa tubs for two. The popular restaurant on the premises serves exquisite North Coast cuisine.