Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Mendocino County, CA

  • Published 2023/03/24

Mendocino County is an unspoiled destination in California that’s perfect for travelers looking for a serene retreat.

Located on the state’s north coast, the county is known for its exceptional scenery, including its Pacific ocean coastline, redwood forests, and wineries.

Its geographical area is divided into two parts—coastal and inland—with distinct attractions.

It also has several regions and towns, including Ukiah, Anderson Valley, Gualala, Fort Bragg, Legget, Philo, the Coast, and Westport.

Ukiah is the county seat and biggest city in Mendocino County.

Established in 1850, the county got its name from Cape Mendocino.

It is now home to 91,305 people as of the 2021 U.S. census.

Whether you want to explore water activities or enjoy a peaceful vacation close to the forest, the county has something for you.

Give Mendocino County a chance if you want to discover a new region of California.

Bookmark this list of the best things to do in Mendocino County, California!

Drive through the Chandelier Tree at Underwood Park

Daytime view of Chandelier Tree

Zack Frank /

Underwood Park is the home of the popular tourist spot in Mendocino County, the Chandelier Tree.

It is located at 67402 Drive Thru Tree Road in the community of Leggett.

The park is a privately-owned grove that the Underwood Family has been running since 1922.

The Chandelier Tree is a 315-foot tall coast redwood tree with a hole cut through its base to allow cars to pass.

A car passing through the Chandelier Tree

Nick Fox /

You’ll feel closer to nature as you explore the park, its plants, and wildlife.

Underwood Park also has picnic tables, parking spots, and restrooms for your convenience.

Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop and find memorabilia before leaving the park!

Signage of the Chandelier Tree

mountainlion /

Unwind at River’s Bend Retreat Center

Experience a full retreat surrounded by nature at River’s Bend Retreat Center.

It is at 18450 Ray’s Road in Philo.

The center was initially established as a family retreat place.

Today, it offers a cozy and inspirational sanctuary for people who want to experience country living.

The place has a schedule of retreats available to the public, so ask them before booking your stay.

You may choose from the available lodgings, including rustic cabins and tents.

If you’re looking for an escape from busy everyday life, you may want to consider staying at River’s Bend Retreat Center.

Visit the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House

Exterior of the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House

DreamArt123 /

You cannot pass up on the exceptional Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House when you visit the county.

You may reach the property at 431 South Main Street in Ukiah.

The museum features contemporary, historical, and native art.

Some permanent exhibits here are the Hart Gallery, the Person Gallery, and the Stone Gallery.

Seasonal galleries are also featured, so feel free to check the scheduled exhibits before your visit.

Porch of the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House

DreamArt123 /

The museum also hosts various events, including literary talks and art walks.

The Sun House, a 1911 redwood Craftsman-style bungalow, also stands on the museum property.

You may schedule a tour of the unique and charming house that also served as an art studio for its late owners, Grace and John Hudson.

The Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House is also home to the Wild Gardens, an outdoor educational event focusing on native Northern California plants and habitats.

Grounds of the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House

DreamArt123 /

Spend a Relaxing Day at Orr Hot Springs

Feel closer to nature while relaxing at Orr Hot Springs.

Located at 13201 Orr Springs Road in Ukiah City, the resort is surrounded by Mendocino Coastal Range’s rolling hills and forest.

The springs stretch 27 acres at the headwaters of Big River.

Some lodges and cabins were constructed in the 1930s using local redwood.

To this day, the establishment has preserved its period charm.

You may try the hot springs and the massage services to complete your day of relaxation at Orr Hot Springs.

Try Mindful Fitness Activities at Rise & Be Well

Keep your body active while relaxing at Rise and Be Well.

It is at 303 North Main Street, Suite C, in Fort Bragg.

The wellness center offers classes on fitness activities such as kickboxing, yoga, mindful movement, sun salutations, pilates, and Tibetan Rites.

You may also get a massage and reiki or try their sauna and tubs.

Sound, float, and light therapies are also among the wellness practices offered at Rise & Be Well.

There’s no better place to fully unwind and get in touch with your body and mind than in Mendocino County.

Check Out the Point Arena Lighthouse

Exterior of the Point Arena Lighthouse

Iv-olga /

The Point Arena Lighthouse is an iconic structure on the Pacific Coast.

It stands at 45500 Lighthouse Road in the small coastal city of Point Arena.

You can’t say you’ve explored Mendocino County’s coastal area without seeing the lighthouse.

View inside the Point Arena Lighthouse

travelview /

It is open for public tours, which are available daily.

Likewise, you can visit the Point Arena Light Station Indoor Museum and the Outdoor Museum on the lighthouse grounds.

Before leaving, drop by the Light Station Store and grab a souvenir reminding you of your trip to the Point Arena Lighthouse!

Far view of the Point Arena Lighthouse

picchu productions /

Sample Local Vegan Cuisine at Ravens Restaurant

Ravens Restaurant boasts award-winning vegan cuisine.

You may find the restaurant at Stanford Inn, located at 44850 Comptche-Ukiah Road, in the community of Mendocino.

The restaurant uses local harvest and bounty in its dishes, mostly from its organic farm.

Even if you’re not vegan, you will still appreciate the restaurant’s great plant-based menu.

Ravens Restaurant also has a full bar serving wine, beer, and other drinks in the evening.

Try organic and ethically prepared food while unwinding in the area.

Ride the Historic Skunk Train

Exterior of the Historic Skunk Train

photosgenius /

The Skunk Train, formally known as the California Western Railroad, is essential to local history.

You may ride one of the trains from the cities of Fort Bragg or Willits.

Trains departing from stations go through different scenic routes.

If you want an outdoor experience, you may also travel along the railroad through electric railbikes.

Body of the Historic Skunk Train

Cynthia Liang /

In the 1880s, the railroad significantly transported workers, families, and lumber, a primary industry in the area.

The transport railway was dubbed the “Skunk” in 1925 upon the introduction of motorcars which burned crude oil to keep train passengers warm.

The fumes of the trains that pass by create a strong odor, making people call them skunks.

If riding a Skunk Train is not yet on your bucket list, you should add it now!

Book a Therapeutic Stay at Mar Vista Farm + Cottages

Slow down and experience countryside living at Mar Vista Farm + Cottages.

It is situated at 35101 S. Highway 1 in the community of Gualala.

The place offers 11 cottages around the property where you can stay in peace.

A small farm is also located within the nine-acre grounds.

While here, you may find the time to explore the forests and the nearby beach.

You can also connect with nature and animals roaming the property.

Disconnect from the ever-bustling world and relax at Mar Vista Farm + Cottages.

Sip Organic Wine at Terra Savia Winery & Olive Mill

Terra Savia Winery & Olive Mill is a local producer of organic wine and olive oil through sustainable farming.

You may find the place at 14200 Mountain House Road in Hopland.

The place’s winemaker, Jim Milone, has made wine for over 40 years.

The winery features art collections in its tasting room, so you’ll have a satisfying drinking experience amid excellent art.

Don’t forget to take home some of Terra Savia Winery & Olive Mill’s premium olive oil, which began production in 1999.

Terra Savia also offers hospitality services in its guesthouses and peaceful spots for small gatherings in its estate.

Explore the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Vibrant dahlia at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

deakins83 /

Escape urban life and immerse in nature at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

You may find it at 18220 North Highway 1 in Fort Bragg City.

The gardens were founded in 1961 and opened to the public in 1966.

The place is known for growing rhododendrons, a plant species with the most fragrant blooms.

Succulents at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plant lovers will enjoy exploring the place, learning about various plant species, and seeing rare flora.

Bird watchers also frequent Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, with over 180 bird species visiting year-round.

Activities like guided tours, meditation, yoga, and art making, among others, are also held in the gardens.

Heather garden at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Tasting Room of Bee Hunter Wine

Bee Hunter Wine boasts world-class wines from grapes grown in “secret neighborhood gardens.”

The tasting room is located at 14251 CA-128 in Boonville.

They will also waive the tasting fee if you purchase wine.

Bee Hunter Wine makes premium wines from grapes the winemaker hand-picks.

Try the flavorful wine of Anderson Valley when you visit Mendocino County!

Enjoy the Outdoors at Russian Gulch State Park

The waters of Russian Gulch State Park

Shot-From-Above /

Visit the Russian Gulch State Park for an outdoor adventure.

It is located just two miles north of the Mendocino community.

The park consists of a green canyon that stretches up to three miles and headlands that lead to pristine beaches with rocky coastlines.

A trail at Russian Gulch State Park

Lucy Autrey Wilson /

From here, you may also find a 36-foot waterfall and a collapsed sea cave called the “Devil’s Punchbowl.”

You may also see the 100-foot-tall Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge.

Whether you want to go hiking or try water activities, Russian Gulch State Park is the perfect place.

Picnic tables at Russian Gulch State Park

Lucy Autrey Wilson /

Spend a Peaceful Weekend at Vichy Springs Resort & Inn

Go to Vichy Springs Resort & Inn to experience a one-of-a-kind spa day.

The hot spring resort has given guests a unique wellness experience since its establishment in 1854.

You may find it at 2605 Vichy Springs Road in Ukiah.

While staying here, you may have a relaxing massage or spa treatment, including the famous “champagne” Vichy Mineral Baths.

An Olympic-size swimming pool and a hot pool are also available depending on the season.

If you want to stay active, roam the area and explore the 700-acre walking and hiking trails.

Picnic tables are also available throughout the property for your enjoyment.

Visit Vichy Springs Resort & Inn to elevate your self-care rituals.

Hike at the Mendocino Headlands State Park

Hiking trail at Mendocino Headlands State Park

Ken Schulze /

Hikers of all skill levels will enjoy the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

The park stands on the lands surrounding the community of Mendocino.

It has various trails ranging from gentle to rugged coastlines, perfect for different types of hikers.

You may also find secluded beaches and historic spots in the surrounding community.

Scenic view from Mendocino Headlands State Park

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

You may easily reach the historic 1854 Ford House Visitor Center from the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

If you’re looking for spectacular views of grottos and sea arches, you may find them from the cliffs of Mendocino State Park.

Depending on the season, you may also come across the beautiful wildflowers that grow around the park and the migration of gray whales on the Pacific coast.

A hiker admiring the view from Mendocino Headlands State Park

Srishti Sethi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Mendocino County is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

Stepping into the county will feel like a complete escape from your regular life as it offers countless wellness experiences.

Bookmark this list of the best things to do in Mendocino County, California!

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