The combination of Victorian and New England-style wood frame homes and the setting on the bluffs at the mouth of the Big River is what put the town of Mendocino, above, on the National Register of Historic Places. Stroll its lanes and breathe the sea air and you won’t want to leave.
California’s golden cities—los
Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego—are celebrated around the world, and rightly so. But the Golden State boasts an engaging range of things to see and do in less-well-known locales, as well. In cities ranging in size from 900 inhabitants to nearly 500,000, a surprising, eclectic menu of food and drink, art and architecture, history and sports is available to visitors.
MENDOCINO: Victorian Wonderland
Claiming pride of place in hopelessly beautiful Mendocino County, the town of Mendocino is one of the best-loved destinations on California’s North Coast. The village of 900 people 130 miles north of San Francisco is stocked with historic B&BS, heritage hotels, clothing shops, art galleries and deeply delicious, locally owned restaurants. Settled in the mid-19th century by westwardho New Englanders, Portuguese fishers and Chinese immigrants, Mendocino boomed as a lumber town. It revived with mid-20th century back-to-the-landers and visiting travelers. Most of the town of Victorian cottages and restored wood-frame houses is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The village is situated on the bluffs of the Mendocino Headlands with splendid views of the Pacific Ocean and a network of public trails. The Mendocino Music Festival is held in July, while the Mendocino Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival takes place in November. A pleasant drive north on California Route 1 takes visitors to the teeming tide pools, hiking and camping of Russian Gulch State Park.