Things to Do in Mendocino, CA - Mendocino Attractions

Things to do in mendocino, tours in and around mendocino.

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Private Professional Vacation Photoshoot in Mendocino

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Redwoods Railbike Along Pudding Creek

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Skunk Train: Pudding Creek Express from Fort Bragg

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Skunk Train: Wolf Tree Turn from Willits

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Frenzy Scavenger Hunt in Fort Bragg

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Other Top Attractions around Mendocino

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How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Mendocino County in Northern California

This Northern California destination has 24 national and state parks and 90 miles of idyllic coastline.

Chelsee Lowe is a Los Angeles-based writer with an obsession with good eats and interesting stories. She regularly contributes to Travel + Leisure , TravelAge West , Ventura Blvd , and L.A. Parent , writing about food, family travel, and more.

What to Do in Mendocino

Where to eat and drink in mendocino, where to stay in mendocino county, how to get here.

Northern California’s Mendocino County is home to an inordinate number of natural treasures, and so few residents that you’re often completely alone when exploring them. This was the case when I visited the coastal region with my mom and young daughter during peak summer travel season. At Russian Gulch State Park, on the bluffs of Mendocino Headlands State Park, at nearly every stop we made, we were on our own, ramblers in a sea of quiet. 

That's how it should be in Mendocino County because so much of the area is protected. There are 24 state and national parks here, plus hundreds of miles of incredible hiking and biking trails and secluded shores.

alantobey/Getty Images

This is the ancestral land of the Pomo tribe, but European settlers arrived in the early 1800s and essentially pillaged it for timber. The Mendocino Lumber Company was founded in 1853, and it cut down trees here for almost a full century, until protections came into play. Stunning Hendy Woods State Park , for example, was established in 1958 to preserve old-growth redwood trees. Northern California’s coast is one of the few landscapes in the world where the magnificent redwood grows, and to walk among them is a spiritual experience — many have stood for more than 1,000 years, and they’ll be here long after those who gaze upon them.

Courtesy Visit Mendocino

For big trees, gorgeous coastal trails, and a peek at Golden State history, here’s how we suggest you explore Mendocino.

Visit Mendocino Headlands State Park

Brendan McGuigan 

Mendocino Headlands Trail, a 4.2-mile, out-and-back trek, skirts along the edge of a bluff, wild grasses and flowers swaying in the wind on either side of you. (The only other place I’ve seen such coastal beauty is actually 150 miles south, in Point Reyes .) Rock formations far below the cliff’s edge are gorgeous, but with mostly brush as your barrier, it’s best to watch your step and keep younger travelers close. Pack binoculars to get up-close looks at brown pelicans and egrets, and marvel at lupine and other wildflowers if you’re visiting in spring.

Hike Fern Canyon Loop.

Find this 6.2-mile loop trail in Russian Gulch State Park , which is just south of the town of Fort Bragg. You’ll get intimate with the landscape on this canyon trek, following a creek through dense forest with plenty of redwood trees. (Always check park websites before arriving, though, as storms can wash out trails and lead to temporary closures.) And before or after your trek, walk under the very pretty Russian Gulch Bridge to visit the shoreline here. We easily spent two hours here looking at sea birds, abalone, and other shells washed up on the sand. 

Ride the Skunk Train

Chelsea Loren/Travel + Leisure

Known as the Redwood Route, the tracks laid in this region date back to 1885, when trains carried logging workers and their families — and, of course, actual logs. Today, any route on the Skunk Train is a slow and easy ride kids and train enthusiasts will love. We bought the souvenir popcorn bucket on our 75-minute, round-trip ride from Fort Bragg to Pudding Creek Estuary, snacking and marveling at how close we were to the redwoods, their rough and red bark the ultimate shield, protecting them from fire and insects.

Visit Glass Beach

David Pu'u/Getty Images

The history of Glass Beach is among many a head-scratching California tale, and it goes something like this: for the first half of the 20th century, water dump sites were sanctioned, so residents disposed of all kinds of things right in these waters — appliances, everyday glass items, and more. They’d light it all on fire from time to time to reduce the rubbish, and then when the site got too full, they’d make a new one nearby. Glass Beach is the site of Mendocino’s third water dump. It stopped being used as such in 1967 (and the practice ended for good), but the now-smooth shards of all that trash continue to wash up in this rocky coastal nook. My mother is a collector at heart, a modern-day treasure hunter, and as she picked up bits of sea glass and fawned over her findings as if they were shells, I saw “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” in action. 

Visit another Mendocino beach.

Glass Beach isn’t representative of Mendocino’s shoreline, so leave time for another beach stop — the county has 90 miles of coastline and many accessible beaches to choose from. Note that even in July, the average high here is 66 degrees Fahrenheit. We suggest arriving in layers and pants you can roll up, then ditching your socks and shoes near your car and exploring barefoot. If you’re close to Fort Bragg, head to Jug Handle State Beach, where you’ll find tide pools (at low tide) and a kid-friendly lagoon to play in. If you’re in the southern part of the county, check out Bowling Ball Beach, named for the giant round formations that reveal themselves at low tide. Big River Beach is another favorite, and Van Damme State Park offers a great stretch of sand, too. 

Mendocino Village

“Downtown” would be an ill-fitting term for this charming stretch of shops and Victorian structures on a bluff, so “village” it is. It’s adorable and peaceful and simply relaxing to walk around here, the coastal wind whipping right up from the sea. We popped into a few cafes and coffee shops for snacks, and recommend you do the same. Good Life Cafe is likely the only place you’ll wait in any form of a line, because people are happy to wait for fresh baked pastries here. Try Fog Eater Cafe for plant-based Cali cuisine. And don't skip Cafe Beaujolais , a French spot in an 1893 Victorian farmhouse. If you don’t feel like a fine-dining experience, go midday, Wednesday to Sunday, for wood-fired pizza in the garden.

Anderson Valley

Courtesy Goldeneye Winery

If you spot rolling hills near California’s coast, it’s pretty safe to assume there’s great wine nearby. No surprise then that dozens of wineries dot Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, which is 10 to 20 miles from the shore, depending on where you’re coming from or headed. If you prefer to wine taste while snacking, book a private visit to Fathers + Daughters Cellars , where wine comes with charcuterie curated by Boonville market Disco Ranch , and guests enjoy the experience from atop vineyard hill. Other tasting rooms for your list are Lichen Estate , Toulouse Vineyards , and Goldeneye . Note that most require a timed reservation, so it’s best to plan your visit in advance.

An agenda-less day in a small town is a good day, and Boonville (pop. 1,035) checks all the boxes for me: diners, general stores full of snacks and local creations, antique shops, and more. Arrive hungry and thirsty so you can stop at Pennyroyal Farm for pinot and cheese, and/or a farmstead tour, and Disco Ranch market for provisions to go. If you’d like to stay right in town, check in at the one-of-a-kind Boonville Hotel and Restaurant . In between meals and wine flights, go antiquing at Your Money’s Worth, shop in Farmhouse Mercantile , and roam in Hendy Woods State Park, which is less than 10 miles north on Highway 128, past the teeny town of Philo. On hot summer days, you’ll see people swimming in cool pools along the Navarro River in the park. 

The Apple Farm in Philo

My grandmother was a religious farmstand shopper. No matter where we were driving in Northern California, she knew what unmarked dirt road hid the juiciest peaches in the state, the sweetest corn to toss on the fire. This is surely why a place like Philo Apple Farm catches my eye — a local grower working tirelessly to raise delicious fruit for the lucky few. The farmstand is open daily, so you can stock up on apples and pears for your hiking adventures. A list of seasonal apple options reads like poetry: Black Twig, Cherry Cox, Crimson Gold, Fireside, Fox Whelp, Cinnamon Spice, Fireside. If you find yourself wanting to linger, they have a few rooms for rent and Saturday Suppers in the summer. 

Noyo Harbor

If you’re cruising the Mendocino coast, you will undoubtedly stop in the city of Fort Bragg , and for a meal nearby, we point you to Noyo Harbor. The seafood here is as fresh as it gets, with commercial fishing operations coming right up the Noyo River and local restaurants prepping just-caught salmon, rockfish, tuna, halibut, steelhead, and more for delighted diners. Try Noyo Fish Company for fish and chips, fish tacos, and chowder; the woman-powered Princess Seafood Deli and Market ; and The Wharf , which has been serving locals and out-of-towners for decades. 

Little River Inn

Aubrie Pick

This Victorian-style, family-owned property has a great address, right on Highway One and with a rolling lawn in front that’s ideal for cartwheeling while you watch the sunset – which is exactly what my daughter did after our dinner here. Most rooms have sea views and fireplaces to cozy up next to, and some have their own hot tub. We were not overnight guests, but we thoroughly enjoyed our meal here, especially the chef’s incredible clam chowder and olallieberry cobbler à la mode. The energy of this space is too good, with locals and guests buzzing together at the adjacent Ole’s Whale Watch Bar, which, of course, has bar stools facing west to the sea. 

Thatcher Hotel

Set inland in the adorable town of Hopland (pop. 899), Thatcher Hotel has 18 simple-but-stylish rooms and is a great accommodation option if you’re planning to do some wine tasting in the area, or if you’re heading to a wine country wedding. The hotel was established in 1890, but its current look is the result of a somewhat recent renovation. Read a book in the first-floor library, have a cocktail at the incredible, saloon-like Bar Thatcher, and enjoy coffee and pastries from Cafe Poppy, also off the lobby. When I’m in town, I make sure to walk down the street to look for treasures at Country Porch Antiques and have a classic diner breakfast at Bluebird Cafe.

The Inn at Newport Ranch

Nick Z Photo

Back at the coast and just north of Fort Bragg, The Inn at Newport Ranch sits on more than 2,000 acres of private land, complete with a working farm and cattle ranch. The inn has just 10 rooms, making it a pretty incomparable private escape (one that’s sometimes booked out for wedding parties and such). I love all the wood paneling and furnishing in the rooms – seaside lodge vibes to calm the soul – as well as the 25-plus miles of on-property trails. The inn team will help you book adventures, too, like forest bathing and seasonal foraging excursions. They also plant a redwood tree for every guest – better yet, they’ll help you plant the seed yourself.

Mendocino Grove

For a glamping experience, consider Mendocino Grove . The site has 60 tents set up in well-spaced “neighborhoods,” as the resort calls them. Each tent is furnished with comfy beds, wool blankets, and a deck with leather butterfly chairs perfect for resting and redwood watching. There’s live music around the campfire on select summer nights, and a campfire cookout series, too.

The Stanford Inn

A rustic hilltop lodge with 41 rooms and suites, The Stanford Inn is just one mile from Mendocino Village, and it offers anything you might need for rest and relaxation, and/or play and adventure. Activities readily available for guests include yoga and tai chi classes, mushroom and kayak tours, garden tours and cooking classes, and guided meditation. Vegan breakfast at the on-site Ravens Restaurant is included in your stay, and the inn recently opened Catch A Canoe and Bicycles Too , a rental site right at Big River Estuary where travelers can book kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and bikes to explore the area. 

Mendocino is a year-round destination, with adventure options any season and a temperate climate. Winter is good for whale watching , with boat trips out of Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor — there’s even an annual whale festival celebrating the gray whale migration. Spring and summer bring wildflowers and myriad events worth a drive (or flight), including Mendocino Music Festival , Anderson Valley Pinot Festival , and a June urchin festival . Note that individual wineries curate their own calendars of events, too, so consider those as you’re planning your trip.

Mendocino is a long trek from San Francisco International Airport at 176 miles, but it’s an incredible road trip if you have the time, bringing you through Sonoma County towns, like Petaluma and Healdsburg, before plopping you on Highway 128. The highway pitches you left and right as you curve west through redwood forest. Stopping at Navarro River Redwood State Park is a must, and the aforementioned Boonville is here, too. You’ll still take this highway (and shorten your driving journey) if you fly into Sonoma County’s regional airport in Santa Rosa. From there, Mendocino Village is 95 miles away. 

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Photos by Fiona Chandra, Nicole LaMotte, Mar Vista Farm + Cottages, Visit Mendocino County

14 things to do on the mystical Mendocino coast — like ride a railbike in a redwood grove

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There will be no cell signal during most of your drive along the coast of Mendocino, and half the time, there won’t even be a radio station to tune in to. All you’re left to do is slow down and take in your surroundings.

Yet you won’t be complaining. This stretch of Highway 1 in Northern California is full of twists and turns, revealing a rocky shoreline on one side and giant redwoods on the other. The view is ever-changing, equally breathtaking when the sun is shining and when the coastal fog descends.

Mendocino coast starts from Gualala in the south, where it borders Sonoma County, and ends around Sinkyone Wilderness State Park in the north, bordering Humboldt County. The fastest way for Angelenos to get there is to fly to Santa Rosa Airport and drive two hours across the 101 Freeway (the new-ish budget airline Avelo flies from Burbank to Santa Rosa, starting from $44 each way).

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Upon your arrival to the coastal town, you might be surprised by the lack of modern Bay Area conveniences. But you’ll quickly forgive. This is a place where coast-to-table and farm-to-table dining is the norm because it’s easier than trying to get produce delivered. It’s a place lined with charming seaside villages, beaches that are hardly crowded and unique ecological wonders. Along this coast is evidence of how the strength of the ocean has shaped this land: lush pygmy forests, sandstone concretions shaped like bowling balls and sea caves arched over blue-green waters.

Some newer residents say they made their way to Mendocino coast for a visit and its natural beauty compelled them to stay. Husband-and-wife duo Victor Passalacqua and Melissa Boon took on jobs as innkeepers for Elk Cove Inn during the pandemic, thinking it would be a temporary move. They arrived late at night, hitching a ride on a truck after their van broke down near Navarro Bridge. But once Boon woke up to a view of the ocean waves crashing on Gunderson Rock, she didn’t want to leave. They’re now co-owners of the inn.

“You don’t find Elk, Elk finds you,” Boon said, remembering a saying about the tiny town that has stuck with her.

A bit of Mendocino County history: For millennia, the Pomo Indians lived in the area, catching fish and shellfish along the coast until their forcible removal in the mid-1800s. On the southern side of the coast in Point Arena, the Spaniards arrived in 1542 and used the area as a navigational site. But the turning point for settlements happened in 1850 when a trading ship called Frolic was returning from China to San Francisco and sank near Point Cabrillo, a few miles from what is now the town of Mendocino. This brought salvagers up to Mendocino and while they weren’t able to recover the ship’s cargo, they found another valuable discovery here: the redwood forest. This spurred the start of the lumber industry in the area and led to a boom in economy and population.

In recent years, Mendocino has faced challenges from extreme drought to careless visitors. (Fort Bragg, the biggest town on the coast, is famous for its Glass Beach, which sadly doesn’t have many glass pebbles left as tourists keep picking them as souvenirs.) But with the rains offering a reprieve, it’s a good time for an escape to this slice of coastline. In addition to dozens of hidden coves and secret beaches that would take months to explore, here are 14 things to do, see and eat.

trees sticking through a deck

Pygmy Forest Discovery Trail

Rail bikes in Fort Bragg.

The Skunk Train and railbikes in Fort Bragg

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse

a bridge over water

Russian Gulch State Park

Bowling Ball Beach

Bowling Ball Beach

interior of an art gallery

Mendocino Art Center

a person paddles in the blue sea

Kayak Mendocino

an old white house

Nicholson House

white buildings at an inn

Elk Cove Inn

a farmhouse with the ocean in the background

Mar Vista Farm + Cottages

three pieces of a dessert

Harbor House Inn

Japanese fried food

Izakaya Gama

Princess Seafood

Princess Seafood

a glass of beer on a bartop

New Museum Brewers + Blenders

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Top Things to Do in Ukiah, CA

Places to visit in ukiah, tours near ukiah.

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Skunk Train: Wolf Tree Turn from Willits

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Redwoods Railbike Along Pudding Creek

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Healdsburg Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour

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Sonoma Horseback-Riding Tour

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Guided Healdsburg Wine Country Bike and Wine Tasting Tour with lunch

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Healdsburg Wine and Food Pairing Guided Walking Tour

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Skunk Train: Pudding Creek Express from Fort Bragg

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Icon Wine & Food Pairing Experience at Williamson Wines in Healdsburg

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History Walking Tour of Healdsburg

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Russian River Kayak Tour at the Beautiful Sonoma Coast

Top attractions in ukiah.

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Other Top Attractions around Ukiah

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What travellers are saying


  • Montgomery Woods State Reserve
  • Nelson Family Vineyards
  • Grace Hudson Museum
  • The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
  • The Mendocino Tree
  • Lake Mendocino
  • Low Gap Park

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In order to support our stakeholders, generate economic activity for County residents through tourism, and inspire our visitors, Visit Mendocino County …

  • Consistently markets the entire County and its assets.
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Visit Mendocino County values Transparency by fostering trust through openness and integrity.

We value Accountability as we are outcome-oriented and professional.

We value Partnerships by creating alignments through inclusive and meaningful relationships.

We value Community by contributing to the fabric of Mendocino County.

We value Innovation with our creativity that reflects the uniqueness of our cultures and landscapes.

As a leader we motivate and facilitate the tourism community.  We welcome, and are responsive to, input from our community members and stakeholders. We actively seek engagement and collaboration with our stakeholders and partners.  We are bold and deliver on smart, effective and forward thinking ideas.

Magic is Real. We are Visit Mendocino County.

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The Eager Traveler

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  • June 5, 2023

13 Things To Do In Mendocino, California

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

Growing up in Northern California, I visited Mendocino just once. It was really Big Sur (on the Central California Coast) that had my heart. I recently however re-discovered Mendocino on a three hour drive from San Francisco and was completely blown away by this quaint seaside town.

So what’s the big deal about Mendocino? In fact, I feel like it’s often overshadowed by Big Sur in Central California and I’m not entirely sure why. Mendocino’s rugged coastline is home to Victorian villages, Redwoods, glass beaches, and the only oceanfront botanical garden in the US. At times I felt like I was in Ireland, the cliffs were that green. In this blog I’ll share 15 marvelous things to do in Mendocino including a place to stay that will blow your mind away!

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Things to do in Mendocino

Here are 13 things to do in Mendocino on your weekend getaway.

Hike Russian Gulch State Park

I love waterfalls so I chose to hike the Russian Gulch Waterfall trail at the Russian Gulch State Park. Entry into the park is $8 and you can drive in all the way to the very end (until you come to a gate) to find parking for the waterfall trailhead. From here you walk straight past the gate on a gravel path through lush surroundings with ferns all over. It’s honestly quite beautiful….and quiet. I hardly saw another soul but I also went during the weekday. The trail is fairly maintained.

You’ll soon come to a fork, stay left and soon after you’ll climb a set of stairs toward the gushing falls. The sound of the falling water was so soothing. The Russian Gulch Waterfall is 36 feet tall and is stunning when the water is flowing. I went right after a series of storms in April 2023. You can also walk down to the falls or sit on the bench at the top and take in the scene. I walked back the way same way I came because I wanted to explore more of Mendocino that afternoon. This hike was about 3.5 miles roundtrip and is a must if you love the outdoors.

Hiking to the waterfall

Walk Downtown Mendocino

Strolling downtown Mendocino is one of the things to do in Mendocino because this area is just so utterly charming. The Victorian village of Mendocino is perched on a bluff on the ocean side of California Highway 1. The streets are lined with cute boutique shops and art galleries that are fun to pop in. My favorites are Village Toy Store, Mendocino Jams & Preserves , Village Sock Shop , Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books (even comes with a cat) , and the Garden Bakery .

Explore Mendocino Headlands State Park

Don’t have the budget or time for Ireland? No problem, just head to Mendocino Headlands State Park ! Walking on the cliffs transported me to another world and I felt like I was in Ireland! There are miles of easy trails along the bluffs, allowing for magnificent photo ops of the ocean and the sea caves and arches along the coastline. This is a must on your list of things to do in Mendocino.

Ford House Museum

When you visit Mendocino, the Ford House museum is nice to visit as it also serves as the visitor center. The historic house was built in 1854 by Jerome Ford, the superintendent of the first sawmill in Mendocino, for himself and his bride Martha.

Step inside to see a scale model of Mendocino as it was in 1890, built by a local craftsman, Len Peterson. You can view videos on a number of topics, and browse the exhibits, which include historical photos and other artifacts that document the town’s past.

If a docent-led tour or talk is being offered when you visit, join to learn a great deal about local history, the natural features of the region, and flora and fauna. Contact staff in advance if you are interested in a tour.

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Hike the 5-mile out and back Ecological Staircase Trail, which will take you up from the bluffs and through redwoods along a series of three terraces into the pygmy forest, where the stunted trees are actually very old.

Get ready to see Bolander pine, dwarf manzanita, and pygmy cypress, among many other species of plants. There is also a staircase that leads down to the beach, where you can walk at low tide but know that the waves can be rough and swimming is not encouraged. There are also tables by the parking area if you decide to do a picnic lunch here!

Kayak Big River

I would highly recommend a redwood outrigger canoe with Catch a Canoe. These canoes are noted for their stability so if you’re afraid of tipping, don’t be. The outrigger floats, or the twin hulls of the catamaran, provide a measure of stability not found in other canoes or kayaks. In addition, the narrow, efficient hull and float  design reduces the amount of effort typically needed for canoe propulsion.

They are available in different sizes, and handcrafted from wood repurposed from old redwood barns. This is a unique way to enjoy Mendocino on the river!

The Big River estuary in Mendocino Headlands State Park is one of those best of both worlds scenarios where dense Redwood forest and fresh, lazy river water meet rocky beaches and the mighty Pacific. Canoe up the river and pull over to explore the Redwood forest – there are plenty of small trails winding on either side of the river. About a half mile up the river there are some cool islands and channels to paddle around. Definitely an activity to add to your list of things to do in Mendocino!

Visit the Cabrillo Light House

This State Historic Park occupies a spectacular headland extending out into the Pacific. There is a parking area inside the gate off Point Cabrillo Drive, adjacent to the restored Kearn farmhouse. It’s a half mile downhill walk to the Light Station buildings.

There are two paths to the Station. The dirt path begins at the north end of the parking lot and takes you through the introduced grassland and coastal prairie. The paved access road to the south is an easier walk. Please use established trails and keep dogs leashed and under control at all times.

The main floor of the Lighthouse, the 1st Assistant Lightkeeper’s House and the Marine Science Exhibit are open to the public from 11am to 4pm year-round. The State Historic Park is open from sunrise to sunset daily. For those of you that have dogs, the main floor of the Lighthouse is dog-friendly.

Van Damme State Park

Three miles south of Mendocino on Highway One, Van Damme State Park is all about a scenic beach, a lush fern-filled forest, and year-round camping. The highway runs through the park, separating the campground and the Fern Canyon trail head to the east from the beach and parking lot to the west. You can even launch a kayak in a protected cove or explore a pygmy forest, hike the Fern Canyon Scenic Trail beside Little River. 

Of all the park system’s units along the Mendocino coast, Van Damme is perhaps the richest in terms of historical resources connected with the redwood lumber industry. Its story is a prime example of the struggles and eventual failures of a small, independent lumber operation. 

Dogs are allowed in the campground, beach and Spring Ranch but they aren’t allowed on Fern Canyon Trail, Old Logging Road Trail, or Pygmy Forest Trail

You can’t visit Mendocino and not stop by Fort Bragg ! The biggest city on the Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg is home to the world-famous Skunk Train, the extraordinary Glass Beach, and the spectacular Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. I walked around Fort Bragg one afternoon and it’s such a cute town just within walking distance from the Skunk Train which is a bucketlist activity in Mendocino.

Ten Mile Beach Dunes has a southern, middle, and top access point where you can go and explore the sand dunes. These are easy to access, and just a short walk from any of the parking places you might pick. Access is also free and it’s cool to see sand dunes unexpectedly in Mendocino. MacKerricher State Park is also great for abalone shells, and you may even see seals out on the rocks.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

What’s unique about this botanical garden is that it’s one of the few that gardens that front an ocean shore. Visiting hours are Monday through Thursday 9am to 5pm, and Friday through Sunday 9am to 6pm. The gardens are absolutely a joy to wander through especially on the ocean view trail. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rhododendron collection and I highly encourage you to stop by this beautiful place . The on-site store has some wonderful souvenirs for purchase. Tip: On the ocean view trail, be sure to stop by the Cliff House. It provides a cozy place to view the bluffs and ocean through large picture windows and is super cute!

Ride the Skunk Train

This HAS to be on your list of things to do in Mendocino. To book, click this link . Imagine stepping back in time for a magical ride through the redwoods on a historic train . Since 1885 the Skunk train has made its way through old-growth redwood groves, over scenic trestle bridges, through spectacular tunnels, and into the heart of the Noyo River canyon. I enjoyed the same pristine views that have remained largely unchanged for well over a century on my ride through the groves. You can either ride in the open carriage or take a seat inside. Tip: The train has snacks and drinks for purchase so save your appetite.

I chose the Pudding Creek Express ride . This ride involves a scenic 7-mile round trip along the beautiful Pudding Creek Estuary – home to blue herons, ospreys, egrets, and more. You drive to the Fort Bragg depot, park in the parking lot, grab your tickets from the station, and embark on a one hour 15 minute round trip, with a 20-35 minute stop at the very charming Glen Blair Junction. During the stop you can relax or take a small hike to The Glen.

Taking the train ride through Pudding Creek Express

Ride the Pudding Creek Railbikes

If you don’t want to ride the train and are looking for an alternate or more active way to experience the redwood groves, I highly recommend the railbikes ! The two person railbikes also depart from the Fort Bragg depot and is 7 miles with the same stopover at the Glen Blair Junction. This is such a fun ride and you can either choose to pedal the entire time or just let the electric bike do the work as you enjoy the spectacular nature around you.

Riding the railbikes through the redwood groves

Sunset at Glass Beach

End your trip with sunset at the most unique beach in California – Glass Beach. Yes the beach is actually strewn with glass! This might be the most searched beach in California! This site was once a trash dump and the broken bottles from garbage cans of local residents have been transformed into little treasures to be found and photographed. It is illegal to remove any glass from Glass Beach, but this hasn’t stopped people from taking what seems like a harmless amount. Over the years visitors have pilfered it piece by piece and depleted the beach of its namesake glass. Sea glass is still abundant, but nothing like it used to be. I still had a wonderful time enjoying the remaining glass and strolling along the different coves. Sunset here hits differently and is absolutely magical.

Glass Beach at sunset

Where to Stay in Mendocino

On your visit to Mendocino you must add the Elk Forest Retreat to your list of things to do in Mendocino. It is one of the most magical places to stay. This retreat is nestled among redwood trees a few miles from the Pacific Ocean in the town of Elk, CA , a short coastal drive from the historic village of Mendocino .

You can choose from three accommodations that include the Forest Camping Hut, Camper Hide Out or a Water Tower Retreat. My recommendation is the incredible Forest Camping Hut, a cozy cabin located in the middle of the forest. There is a plush queen-size bed with soft beddings and a wonderful propane heater to keep things nice and warm if you’re going in winter. The BEST part about this place is its unique private outdoor bathtub with shower. This is absolutely magical and you have to experience it for yourself. There is a private outdoors toilet and small kitchen space as well to make basic food as well as tea/coffee (which are provided).

A weekend stay at the Elk Forest Retreat

Where to Eat in Mendocino

Little river inn restaurant.

This restaurant is located inside the charming Little River Inn and you can even see the ocean from their dining room. The menu is top notch and includes the Smoked Cod Rillettes, Bouillabaisse with Lobster-Saffron Broth, and Lemon Caper Petrale Sole. I’d also recommend the Flat Iron Steak. My favorites included the Beets with Goat Cheese in the small plates, the Roasted Squash Bisque, and the whole fried Rock Cod which was incredible.

The restaurant also has wines from Mendocino County in nearby Anderson Valley!

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Mendocino Cafe

This restaurant is in the heart of Mendocino village and has cute outdoor seating with heaters. The restaurant prides itself in serving “organic ingredients healthy for the planet and our customers.” I loved the casual ambience and enjoyed the Healing Bowl and Asian Stir Fry so very much that I came back twice to eat here during my visit.

Trillium Cafe

Also located in Mendocino village, this cafe is known for its seafood. Travel and Leisure said “…this restaurant is beloved for its quintessential California cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood.” I have to agree! Dining in their garden is like dining someplace romantic in Paris.

If you’re looking for a place in the village to enjoy drinks and appetizers or dinner during sunset, look no further then Flow’s patio. On a good sunny day, there is nothing more charming than sipping a glass of Prosecco and dining at Flow. Check out the place and…go with the flow!

GoodLife Cafe & Bakery

One of my favorite stops here, the homemade goodies are incredible! Definitely stop by for a bite, lunch or even just a coffee! You won’t regret it.

Mendocino totally took me by surprise and I’ve already planned my second and third visit back this summer! It’s an easy getaway from the Bay Area and offers an unspoiled, quieter yet charming alternative to Big Sur on the Central California Coast. Next time you’re looking for a coastal getaway, think Mendocino and let it wow you. Drop me a line if you end up going or have any questions!

Hi, I’m Preethi,

I help women overcome their fears, limited beliefs, and generational trauma so they can adventure outdoors with confidence and enjoy the benefits of nature

I help women overcome their fears, limited beliefs, and generational trauma so they can adventure outdoors with confidence and enjoy the benefits of nature

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Travelodge Ukiah, 707-462-5745, 1720 n state street, ukiah, ca, 95482.

This straightforward hotel off U.S. Highway 101 is close to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas community and monastery and the Grace Hudson Museum. The casual rooms have bright decor, free Wi-Fi, and desks, plus mini-fridges, microwaves, and coffeemakers. Suites add whirlpool tubs. Kids 17 and under stay free with an adult. Amenities include free continental breakfast, parking, and a local shuttle, as well as an outdoor pool and a hot tub. There’s also meeting space, and pets are accepted.

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Mendocino County history: A long time ago in Ukiah

B orn in Ukiah in 1936, Bob Dempel remembers going to Ukiah regularly with his mother from their ranch north of Hopland when he was about 6 or 7.

“We went to town and she would shop for our weekly groceries. There were three five-and-dime stores and Frega’s Hardware Store. If I was good, she would give me 10 cents to buy something.”

He was allowed to walk around town and go to the Palace Hotel where she would meet him when she was done shopping.

“The Palace was a safe zone because Walter Sandelin was always right there in the lobby…impeccably dressed with a suit and a tie.”

Dempel hung out in those big overstuffed chairs in the lobby and rode the Otis elevator —probably one of the only elevators in town — up and down. If someone was checking in on the first or second floors, the bellboy/clerk would take their luggage, put it in the elevator and take them up. Dempel rode with them.

Sandelin would always say hello and call him Bobby, one of the few allowed to use that moniker.

“You could go down the hall to the west and use the men’s restroom. It was the first men’s room I ever saw that required you to pay to use the stalls. The urinals were free but you needed a nickel for more.”

In 1954, a group of sophomore schoolgirls organized an invitation-only night dance at the Palace Hotel. He and his girlfriend were the happy recipients of those special invitations.

“It was a swanky affair for Ukiah and the invitation list was kind of like a Who’s Who at that time in high school.”

After graduating from high school, Dempel, his girlfriend and his parents attended a cast-off party put on by Sandelin on the Lurline, a Matson Lines ship, setting sail from San Francisco to Hawaii with Walter and his wife, Cora, and a large group of mostly elderly women.

Sandelin would purchase birthday cards regularly and Dempel was one of the lucky people to be on his list of birthday-wish recipients. Every year for at least 40 years he received a card with a short, personalized, handwritten note.

Somewhere along Dempel’s 50th, the card said ‘Happy Birthday and many more.’

“That was Walter’s way of saying this was the last card.”

And indeed, it was; he died soon after in 1984.

Dempel’s grandmother, Jessie Crawford, lived on the third floor, on the southwest corner of State and Smith streets from 1965 up until 1970 when she passed away. It was a suite with a little dinette and a bedroom, a front room combination. The family furnished the small apartment from their home.

“When I visited her, we would go downstairs to the Palace Hotel Coffee Shop and she would treat me to lunch for 85 cents. She would always have a little nip upstairs before we came down.”

“The connection I had with Walter was through the Masonic Lodge. He was a very active member; I went in when I was 21.

“We attended their monthly dinners at the Masonic Hall on School and Standley streets on the first Friday of every month. There were about 60 of us who met regularly up on the second floor.”

Dempel remembers Sandelin’s daughter Irene was quoted as saying the reason she married more than once was because she couldn’t find anybody who was as good as her father.

After his grandmother died in 1970, they removed the furniture; it was the last time Dempel was in the Palace.

He remembers the shops and rooms in the hotel in the late 1950s.

Bob Sandelin’s Ukiah Tour and Travel was on the southeast corner of Smith and School Streets; one store to the east on Smith Street was Mrs. Del Tully’s Beauty Shop; east of that was the 1891 room where Rotary met and east of that was the Black Bart Room, where you could get a highball for 50 cents. The rest of the Smith Street side to State Street was the Palace Hotel Coffee Shop.

On the School Street side, Mr. Sandkulla’s barbershop was tucked in next to Ukiah Tour and Travel and south of that was Berman’s Men’s Shop that later became Empire Office Supply and after that the Mendocino Book Company.

On State Street, south of the lobby, Suzie Cox had the Palace Dress Shop.

“My heart breaks when I look at the Palace Hotel and how it looks today… I think about all of the possibilities that the building and property could have become.”

This story comes from my visit and interview with Bob Dempel and from an article he wrote for the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Bob Dempel on his ranch off Highway 101 between Ukiah and Hopland. (Photo by Karen Rifkin)

The Ukiah Daily Journal

Ukiah hosts first electric vehicle showcase at…

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Ukiah hosts first electric vehicle showcase at todd grove park.

Electric car

In 2020, Ukiah City Councilwoman Susan Sher traded up from a Prius hybrid car to an all-electric 2019 Kia Niro.

“The reason is very simple.  I wanted to walk the talk.  I could criticize fossil fuel use or do something about it.  I had a hybrid but I was still buying gas and I didn’t want to support the petroleum industry anymore,” she said.

Sher and two other members of Ukiah City Council who own electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles—Juan Orozco and Mari Rodin—will bring their cars to the City of Ukiah’s first Electric Vehicle Showcase at Todd Grove Park on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  Electric vehicle owners are invited to bring their cars and join the line-up, which includes a wide selection of EVs and plug-ins ranging from small models like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt to midsize Tesla, Hyundai Ionic, and VW ID-4, to larger cars like Rivian and the bold new Tesla Cybertruck.

“Anyone who is considering an electric vehicle can take a look at the models on display at the showcase and talk to their owners,” said Eileen Mitro, coordinator of Climate Action Mendocino.  “Owners are perhaps the best source of information about all things EVs, including cost, range, charging, trip planning, quirks and benefits.”

Electric Car

The EV Showcase is part of the City’s annual Earth Day celebration at Todd Grove Park, and cars will be shown on the west side near the summer stage.  Co-organizers of the EV Showcase are Climate Action Mendocino and North Bay Electric Auto Association, both of which will provide handout information about EVs and incentives.

Nearly 1.2 million new EVs were sold in the U.S. last year, and California passed the tipping point of early adoption in 2019 when seven percent of new cars sold were electric, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a recent Washington Post article.   Bloomberg’s senior associate Corey Cantor said that once sales top five percent, the trend is toward strong growth in sales as electric vehicle adoption becomes mainstream.  From seven percent in 2019, California sales of EVs rocketed to 25 percent of all new car sales in the first half of 2023, according to reported state data, though sales were weaker in rural areas. In Mendocino County, 4,000 to 5,000 new EVs were registered to residents in the 2022-2023 time period.

Noting that “electric vehicles are rapidly becoming a standard choice for new and used car buyers,” the City of Ukiah developed a webpage of information and tools to help residents understand charging costs and incentives.

“The City Electric Department has been planning for the adoption of EVs for years,” said Electric Utility Director Cindy Sauers.  “We’ve made significant upgrades to our system to ensure we have the capacity and flexibility to add your new EV!”

Ukiah currently has 27 EV chargers shown on, not all of them publicly available such as those for motel customers or Tesla owners.  Ukiah is evaluating new locations for a fast-charger and several level-2 chargers compatible with most if not all EVs.

Sher took advantage of a City of Ukiah rebate to install a home charger.  The City offers rebates of between $400 and $4,000 on Level 2 chargers, depending upon whether they are intended for home or public use.

Ukiah City Councilman Juan Orozco plugs his 2020 Nissan Leaf into a typical 110-volt household electric socket and charges his car overnight during off-peak hours, which helps smooth electricity demand on the grid.  He uses the family hybrid car on weekends so the Leaf can stay plugged in for a full charge.  Orozco doesn’t notice an increase in his monthly electricity bill, he said, and it is cheaper to charge at home than at a public charger.

City Utility Director Sauers concurs.  City electric rates are “significantly lower” than rates charged by neighboring utilities, she said, so using city rebates to install a convenient charger at home “is a huge win for local EV owners.”

Orozco acknowledged that new car prices on EVs may seem high.  And most Americans, studies show, buy used cars.  Auto dealers Fowler Auto Center and Thurston Auto Plaza in Ukiah both have used EVs on the lot for sale.

Prices on used EVs have come down, partly because Tesla, the nation’s number one manufacturer of EVs, slashed prices on its new cars last year, and car rental company Hertz sold off 20,000 Teslas at steep discounts.  Couple lower prices with a $4,000 federal tax credit and state incentives, and the cost of purchasing a used EV can be a winner. Once the EV is purchased, owners can wave goodbye to high gas prices and most maintenance costs.

But price isn’t everything, said Orozco, who points out that EVs are a solution to curtail pollution from transportation, the number one source of climate-warming emissions in the U.S. Switching, he said, can literally save lives.

“I think people should be thinking about other types of energy other than fossil fuels,” said Orozco.  “I’ll say this to our local Hispanic community and all citizens of Ukiah, don’t be afraid to explore other options.  You don’t have to be burning fossil fuels.”

For more information about EVs on the City Electric Utility website, visit  To learn about the City of Ukiah’s rebates for EV chargers, visit, scroll down and click the rebate menu.

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1920s Springtime Soirée: Historical Society of…

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1920s springtime soirée: historical society of mendocino county preparing for fundraiser.

Tim Buckner and Alyssa Ballard

The Historical Society of Mendocino County will be holding its first annual fundraiser, a 1920s Springtime Soirée, at Barra of Mendocino on May 18, from 5-9 p.m., with a 1920s-inspired dinner catered by Garbocci Gourmet Catering, music from the era and a live and silent auction.

So, shake out your Gatsby pleated skirts, tubular dresses, beads and sequins, cloche hats, high waisted Oxford bags, suspenders, vests, herringbone tweeds, fedoras and flat caps — or not — and join in the celebration for the upcoming opening of the Held-Poage Memorial Home Museum.

crêpe paper flowers

The Mendocino County Historical Society (currently the Historical Society of Mendocino County) was first established in February, 1956, through the enterprise of Marion Marvin and George Ward. Their first meeting was held at the Ukiah Public Library with a follow-up in May at the Palace Hotel, firmly establishing the organization with its elected officers, by laws and district directors.

In 1970, William P. Held, eldest child of William Daniel Louis Held and Ethel Poage, deeded 603 W. Perkins St. — the home in which he grew up and in which his newly-wedded parents moved to in 1903 — to the MCHS for use as their headquarters on behalf of his parents. That same year, the dedication of the Held-Poage Memorial Home took place on the front lawn with 250 in attendance.

The Memorial Home, and research library, housed all the county’s local history and archival materials with additional storage in outbuildings on the property.

With the completion of the 4,400-square-foot William J. and Molly Toney Archive in 2016, the collections were moved into the archival building with temperature-controlled rooms, fire and UV protection and heavy insulation fully protecting all historical documents and articles in the facility. The furnishings were put in temporary storage.

The Toney Archive serves as the headquarters and offices for the HSMC with a research room and collections of approximately 2 million pages of documents, 20,000 photos, thousands of rolls of microfilm, glass plate negatives from the late 1800s on up and contemporary collections of photographs, documents, maps, art, newspapers, county records and oral histories pertaining to the social, political, geographic and cultural history of Mendocino County.

In addition to special collections, they maintain a large reference collection filled with compiled research and books on various topics within Mendocino County which are available to the public for personal use and commercial use in films, books, articles and other media. The Archive is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1-4 p.m., free to the public, and research by appointment can be arranged by telephone or email.

The HSMC is currently cataloging and digitizing its collection from the ground up — less handling of fragile items, greatly prolonging their life, and increased accessibility to the collection.

Part of the proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward work on this long-term project.

Historian and Archivist Alyssa Ballard explains that money raised from the fundraiser will be used for operational needs of the HSMC as well as for the restoration of the Held-Poage Memorial Home Museum begun in 2019.

“We’re hoping to be able to open it up to the public later this year,” she says.

The original house, built in 1903, underwent a major renovation in 1924. The old kitchen was converted into a bedroom for the Helds’ daughter, and a modern kitchen was added on the southeast corner of the building. Already equipped with electricity, the house was plumbed and hot water radiators replaced the wood stoves.

The1920s theme for the event was chosen as a way of highlighting the year 1927, the last year all of the children were in the house before leaving home for college or marriage.

Once the house was cleared, wallpaper was removed layer by layer, carefully documented each as they went; the dining room had five layers in some areas.

“We’ve selected various patterns; we’ll need as many as six for all the rooms, those we believe would have been there in the ’20s. We’ve spent a long time trying to get as close as we can in finding reproduction wallpaper.”

It’s been a bit of a struggle; not only are they looking for the time period of the 1910s and 1920s but also for those that reflect the rural setting of Ukiah at the time — not quite so fancy.

Although many companies do reproductions, they are done on printers and do not have the right qualities, the right texture.

“We’ve found some promising silk screen reproductions but those are expensive and we’re going to need to raise money for them.”

“We are striving for authenticity to the greatest extent possible,” adds Executive Director Tim Buckner.

They are planning on doing a Fund and Need auction during the event specifically for the wallpaper.

Paint has been scraped off the walls, also layer by layer, documenting as they go, and they now know what colors were in each of the rooms.

All of the woodwork in the house had originally been painted with a faux wood grain, a kind of golden oak style over the redwood.

Their painter developed a technique in which he recreated the effect of what had been there by putting on an entirely new layer without having to remove the old paint — a very time-consuming process.

Painting of the outside of the house is almost complete. The second story still needs to be done, and it has been restored to the white it has been for over 100 years while the green has been changed to what it was in the 1920s.

“Someday when we need a new roof, it will go back to the original green,” says Ballard.

The original furniture is back in the home, much of it blanket-wrapped; the kitchen still has its built-in ice box; a late, 1910s, wood burning cook stove was acquired from Lou Martinelli; and Ballard found an era-appropriate clothes washing machine a while ago on the side of the road with a $20 price tag on it that she wheeled home. The Eastern pine floors have been refinished.

“We have some original pieces from the family and other pieces that the Historical Society has acquired over the years. We’re going to do a big call out to the public for specific pieces from specific eras. We’d really like to get those that have Mendocino County history behind them — 1927 or earlier.”

Festivities for the fundraiser will include a social hour, dinner crafted from a 1920s menu; a silent auction and a live auction that will include a 10-person, 1920s dinner party hosted by Dennis and Madelyn Yeo in their historic Victorian home at 612 W. Smith St. in Ukiah, and a Fort Bragg experience package for four with an overnight stay, an excursion on the Skunk Train railbikes and dinner at the North Coast Brewing Company.

DJ Jerry Schultz will spin sounds from the period; a Mendocino County silent film of the era will be playing in the background; and members from the Ukiah Players Theatre will be in costume and in character, adding to the authenticity.

Ballard and fundraising committee members Roberta Hurt, Mirabel Anderson, Philip Gary, Holly Rodgers, David Poma, Gary Nix, Tim Buckner and Marvin Talso are modeling their event from a garden cabaret party inside the pages of a Dennison’s Party Magazine from the summer of 1927.

“There’re a lot of instructions on how to make your own decorations, crêpe paper flowers, streamers and lanterns, and we’re making many of them ourselves.”

In fact, Ballard has already begun making the 250 crêpe paper flowers for the 20 table arrangements, delicately and carefully articulating the brightly-colored leaves, petals, stamens and pistils — each flower a work of art on its own.

“The committee has offered to help if I start to run out of steam.”

This is their first of many annual events and, as those who are dedicated to preserving the past as genuinely as possible, they are striving to create a truly authentic experience.

Tickets are on sale until April 26: $100 per person or $1,000 for a table of eight (includes extras). For tickets, go to: ; call 707-462-6969 or contact: [email protected].

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  21. Ukiah hosts first electric vehicle showcase at Todd Grove Park

    In 2020, Ukiah City Councilwoman Susan Sher traded up from a Prius hybrid car to an all-electric 2019 Kia Niro. "The reason is very simple. I wanted to walk the talk. I could criticize fossil fue…

  22. Mendocino Flavors: New crêperie opens in Ukiah, replacing Lili Pad; new

    Mendocino County and California primary election results updated (updated 3/6 9:30 a.m.) Mendocino County Featured Pet: Blizzard ; The Mendocino Setlist: April 8-14 (updated 9:30 a.m.) O'Neill: A big breakfast on a snowy morning (column) State Parks reopens MacKerricher road on Easter Sunday, in addition to other storm-closed parks

  23. 1920s Springtime Soirée: Historical Society of Mendocino County

    The Historical Society of Mendocino County will be holding its first annual fundraiser, a 1920s Springtime Soirée, at Barra of Mendocino on May 18, from 5-9 p.m., with a 1920s-inspired dinner catered by Garbocci Gourmet Catering, music from the era and a live and silent auction.

  24. 403 E Perkins St, Ukiah, CA 95482

    Special Purpose property for sale at 403 E Perkins St, Ukiah, CA 95482. Visit to read property details & contact the listing broker. - The Commercial Real Estate Exchange ... 2700 Mendocino Ave Santa Rosa, CA 95403 View OM. $433,000. 245 N 7th Street. Special Purpose . 245 N 7th Street Williams, CA 95987 View Flyer ...