Mendocino Village Provides a Scenic Trip Back in Time

With its very well preserved 19th century New England-style Victorian buildings Mendocino looks like we had just stepped into a page in a history book.

Just a three hour drive north from San Francisco through some of the most diverse landscape including gnarled oak trees, vineyards, rustic farmhouses, the most beautiful large Redwoods and some of the best ocean views on the west coast is Mendocino, California  the beautiful, serene village that dates back to the California gold rush days.

Mendocino Village-Photo by Gary Steman

Mendocino Village-Photo by Gary Steman

One look at The Sea Rock Inn a Bed and Breakfast on the north end of town and it is clear they are the ultimate romantic getaway that they promise to be on their website; what may not be as clear at first glance is how much more this sea-side village has to offer its visitors.

Headland State Park And Its Path System Allowed Us To Explore the Rugged Headlands

The cozy cottage inn is surrounded in the great smells of wide green lawns and beautifully landscaped flower gardens that were contrasted by the backdrop of ancient cypress trees. The view from the suites looks across the street to the spectacular panoramic view of the rugged cliffs of the Mendocino Headlands that drop over 45 meters or 150 feet to the Pacific Ocean below. The scene has inspired many filmmakers and can be spotted in movies and television programs including “The Russians Are Coming”, “The Summer of ’42”, “Same Time Next Year”, “Dying Young”, “Overboard” and “The Majestic”. The television series “Murder, She Wrote” was filmed in the town of Mendocino and one of the homes on Little Lake Street was used as Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove home.

After a relaxing continental breakfast, included in the price of the room and served in the main area at a very casual, romantic table that looked out over the headlands and the ocean below, the intricate path system of the Headlands State Park is waiting to be discovered. You could spend hours winding your way through the beautiful wildflowers of the Park across the top of the great cliffs, where the ocean crashing and throwing itself over the top of the rocks provides great photo opportunities.

The History of this Logging Community That Looks Like A Page Out Of The History Books Dates Back to 1850

Mendocino Village, by G sterman

Mendocino Village, by G sterman

When you’re ready for a break from the fresh air and exercise a walk into town is a must.  Mendocino was once a prosperous logging community founded in 1850 and originally named Meiggsville after entrepreneur Henry Meiggs who sold lumber to several businesses along the pacific coast from his home in Catskill, New York.  Meiggs relocated to San Francisco when he discovered gold on one of his lumber delivery trips. The town’s name was later changed to Mendocino in honour of Don Antonio de Mendoza, the patron saint of the voyageur and the first Viceroy of New Spain or Mexico.

This eclectic village features some great artisan stores, art galleries, a haunted hotel, some of the best restaurants and the local watering hole, Dick’s on the beach, a great little pub full of photos and collectables that told the history of this great town.

The Mendocino Hotel is the only hotel that remains from a time when Mendocino was a booming port full of lodgings for the workers in the logging trade. The original structure dates back to 1878 and was originally opened as a “Temperance House” in a time when the town reportedly had 19 saloons.

If You Stop In Maybe You Will Get A Visit From The Hotel’s Ghost

R.O. Peterson purchased the run-down hotel in 1975, and with the assistance of brilliant designers and local artisans and craftsmen he had it authentically restored to include period wallpaper by Schumacher, a rug custom designed and woven to simulate a piece from the era, period mirrors, original oil paintings an enormous sideboard purchased in England, and a 1920s coffee machine. There are rumors that the Hotel has a ghost, a Victorian lady who haunts tables number six and eight in the dining room and has been seen in one of the lobby mirrors. Front Desk workers have also apparently heard their names being spoken in the middle of the night and when they turn around to answer… no one is there.

Both the economy and the population of Mendocino declined after 1940, and it became a somewhat isolated village until artist Bill Zacha founded the Mendocino Art Center and revitalized it in the 1950s. Today, the vibrant town’s calendar of events is limited only by visitors’ imaginations. The Arts and Crafts Fair, held in July each year hosts more than sixty arts and crafts booths with unique handmade artwork. The annual Mendocino Whale Festival allows visitors in the first week of March to watch as some 20,000 gray whales make their way north from Mexico to their Alaskan summer home.  In June, The Mendocino Film Festival showcases independent filmmakers and their work and the Music Festival, a musically diverse concert series held through two weeks in July on Main Street in the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

I have no doubt that your stay in this beautiful village, like the two days I spent there, will be a rare experience and a cherished memory to hold forever.


The facts that helped me tell this story of a beautiful Pacific Ocean Village were found using the following resources:

  • Information about the beautiful Sea Rock Inn on their website,
  • Information on the scenic area of Mendocino County found in the Mendocino Coast and Wine Country Guide published by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce,
  • Information on Mendocino found at “Sally’s Place” on her website
  • Information about the attractions in and around the village at the website
  • Information on the history of the Mendocino Hotel found at

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