Mendocino is a town in Mendocino County, just north of Sonoma County. Geographically speaking, it's just a hair out of desirable driving range for most San Francisco locals (about four hours away) who are looking for weekend getaways — which is good in terms of keeping it a quieter location for you to explore. Its proximity to Sonoma County also makes it a good place to combine a lower North Coast itinerary with a visit to Wine Country. You can experience a little bit of the best of both worlds: gastronomy and nature.
The town of Mendocino is not that much bigger than the book in your hands, with fewer than 1,000 residents as of the most recent census. It's an artsy place that considers itself part of a broader community up and down the coast, where several small towns exist side-by-side, collectively offering an interesting place to visit.
Almost all of the episodes of the popular television series Murder, She Wrote were filmed in Mendocino. Dozens of local residents played background and small speaking roles, and actress Angela Lansbury was a familiar face on the town's streets from 1983 through 1995, when the final season was filmed. Her fictional home is a bed and breakfast called Blair House.
If you're not coming to the Mendocino area to visit local parks and hike or ride bicycles along the coast, then the odds are you'll be visiting for either water sports or a tour around historic Fort Bragg.
Fun on the Water
This isn't water-skiing territory, but it's heaven for swimmers and canoe and kayak lovers, at least during the warmer summer months. The Big River, which runs through the Mendocino Woodlands about ten miles from town, is the largest undeveloped, navigable estuary in northern California. The river boasts spectacular views of the forested canyon and its wildlife. Every once in a while, there's a swimming hole that looks like it's fresh off a postcard.
If you're interested in renting some gear and having it delivered (along with you) to the water, then get in touch with Catch-a-Canoe & Bicycles Too at
You might associate the name Fort Bragg with the home of the U.S. military's paratrooper and special operations forces. That's not the same place as historic Fort Bragg, which is a town in Mendocino County. It's known for its outdoor offerings, such as whale watching, hiking, and kayaking, but it also has an interesting historic side that includes a couple of quirky institutions. One of them, the Triangle Tattoo and Museum, is dedicated to the display of tattoo artifacts.
There are also a couple of art galleries in town, some focusing on wildlife art and others on seascapes of the local surroundings. You can find opera and theater performances depending on the dates of your visit. Learn more at