Insider's Guide to Fun & Affordable Eats
Our Favorite Burgers, Pizza, Sandwiches, Ice Cream, and More
Located in a turn of the century home in downtown Mendocino Village, Frankies has pizza by the slice or by the pie, organic salads, and features Cowlicks Homemade Ice Cream.
The Elk Store is a great place to get an amazing sandwich, snacks, and picnic supplies. Located on Highway 1 in downtown across from Greenwood State Park with picnic tables with incredible ocean views.
Navarro General Store
A small general store with sandwiches, espresso, ice cream and other necessities, located on Hwy 128 in Navarro Town.
Cowlick’s Hand Made Ice Cream
Cowlick’s is a great place to visit after a day at the beach. Featuring award winning icecream and many toppings in a great atmosphere in downtown Fort Bragg.
Jenny’s Giant Burger
A Fort Bragg favorite for decades, with reasonably priced Drive-In style burgers and shakes.
Little River Market & Deli
A local market with an ocean view, you can get a deli sandwich and a craft beer, head to the beach, and watch for whales.
Lemon’s Philo Market
A small country market on 128 in Philo, they have the best deli sandwich in the county in our opinion! Perfect stop on your way to the coast.
D’Aurelio’s and Sons Pizza
Known as having the best pizza pies, pasta, and salads in Fort Bragg for decades. Open only for Dinner!
Bernillo’s Pizzaria and Subs
A local favorite in downtown Fort Bragg with pizza by the slice or by the pie and Italian-style subs.
Gualala Pizza & Bakery
In the Sundstrom Mall in Gualala, the Gualala Pizza & Bakery has pizza, pastries, sandwiches, and ice cream.
Peg House – Leggett
Sea Pal Cove Restaurant
Sea Pal, located in Noyo Harbor, has good burger, fish & chips, and microbrews on tap. They only have a couple tables indoors and most of their seating is on the old dock on the Noyo Harbor, where you can watch fishing boats and harbor seals trolling the river.
Go Ocean and River Kayaking
Several companies offer guided ocean or river tours, including Kayak Mendocino, which does tours from Little River Cove and Liquid Fusion Kayaking which is based out of the Noyo Harbor. Catch-A-Canoe rents canoes and outriggers from the the south side of Big River, near Mendocino Village. The Navarro, Noyo, and Albion Rivers are all accessible for do-it-yourself kayakers and canoeists. Caspar Bay offers a protected harbor to kayak during the calm summer season.
Go Horseback Riding on the Beach
Ricochet Ridge Ranch, just north of Fort Bragg offers half day, full day, and multi-day horseback riding trips starting at MacKerricher State Park and following the beach north to the Ten Mile River and then up into the redwoods. Ross Ranch In Elk offers guided horseback riding trips from their large ranch along private headlands and beaches.
Go Hike to a Secluded Waterfall
There are two scenic and secluded waterfalls you should visit. The Russian Gulch Waterfall is accessed by hiking up Russian Gulch Creek in Russian Gulch State Park. The lessor known Chamberlain Creek Falls is a short but steep hike in Jackson State Forest, near Camp 20 on Highway 20 about 15 miles east of Fort Bragg.
Go Mountain Biking in the Redwoods
Mendocino is not known as a mountain biking haven, but Jackson State Forest and Big River State Park have miles of mountain biking trails to explore. Camp 1 off Highway 20 and Road 409 east of Caspar are the two main entry points for JSF and Big River Beach is the access for the Big River trails. Ask at Catch-A-Canoe in Mendocino, Fort Bragg Cyclery, or stop in at the Jackson State Forest headquarters on Main Street in Fort Bragg for a trail map and tips.
Go Salmon Fishing or Whale Watching from Noyo Harbor
During the annual Gray Whale migration during the winter months charter a boat from Noyo Harbor and head out to sea for a Whale Watching Adventure. During the calmer months, take a charter to fish for Salmon and other fish. There are several charters to choose from at Noyo Harbor including Telstar Charters, Anchor Charter Boats, and Captain Tuna.
Go Visit a Turn of the Century Lighthouse
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, on the headlands between Mendocino and Caspar, is a great place for a hike and to learn about the history of the area. Don’t miss Frolic Cove, to the north of the lighthouse and be sure to see the visitor center in the original lighthouse keepers home. Point Arena Lighthouse in Point Arena is the tallest lighthouse on the west coast that is open the public. You can climb to the top for amazing views up and down the coastline and visit the museum housing many of the original lighthouse equipment.
Go to the Beach or Walk the Coastal Trail
The Mendocino Coast has dozens of beaches to chose from, which are great for beachcombing, playing, or just relaxing. The most popular beaches are Gualala Point, Manchester Beach, Navarro Beach, Big River, Jug Handle, Noyo Harbor, MacKerricher Beaches, and Westport Beach to name a few. The Coastal Trail has many segments, but the most accessible are the MacKerricher Haul Road, Glass Beach Trail, and the new Noyo Headlands Trail in Fort Bragg.
Go Surfing, Boogie boarding, or Stand-up Paddling
The Mendocino Coast is a challenging and unforgiving place to surf. Caspar Bay is the place to go for mellow waves and you can hire a surfing instructor who will teach you to surf there. For the experienced surfer there are many well-known breaks including Point Arena Cove, Big River, Virgin Creek, and Hare Creek.
Go Beer Tasting: Boonville Beer Festival #MendoAleTrail
To kick off the summer, the legendary Boonville Beer Festival is held in Anderson Valley in May. Sponsored by Anderson Valley Brewing Company, the festival is held at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds. Camping at nearby Hendy Woods State Park is an option.
Men’s Journal: Gualala an “Outpost of Adventure Lifestyle”
“Men’s Journal magazine describes Gualala as an “outpost of adventure lifestyle” in their April 2006 edition of the magazine’s list of “50 Best Places to Live”. The magazine describes Gualala (pronounced wa-LA-la by locals) as one of the “below-the-radar places to a make a move on before the word gets out.” Gualala joined three other California communities on the magazine’s list: Santa Cruz, Mammoth Lakes and Bishop…”
Outside Magazine on Mountain Biking Big River:
“The haul road soon enters the woods, and I get only a few views of the river until the road runs right into it. This is the 8.3-mile mark that denotes the head of the Big River’s tidal range; to this point, ocean tides create its current. I ford the cool, shallow river and proceed on foot, again on an old logging road, about a mile into the deep woods that line 61-acre Big River Laguna, a marshy backwater where the mood shifts from scenic beauty to dark intrigue, with redwoods poking through the forest like gothic steeples…This is the Fritz Wonder Plot, some of the tallest second-growth redwoods in the preserve—up to 300 feet—and to me, its beating heart…The solitude is seductive; I have to pedal back in the last light and a brisk offshore headwind…”
Bike Magazine on Mountain Biking Jackson State Forest:
“This place is a mountain biker’s paradise, but at first glance you wouldn’t know it. For the most part, the 150-plus miles of single and doubletrack that stretch between the towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg see little recreational use–and even less fanfare. One might assume that the locals want to keep to themselves this paradise, which spans the Jackson Demonstration State Forest, Woodlands State Park and Big River State Park. But this is not the case…”
California Magazine on Mendocino’s “Wild North Coast”:
“With its dramatic ocean-bluff setting overlooking a steel-blue sea, this coastal hamlet is an obvious magnet for artists, romantics, and lovers of anything wild and untamed. The closest thing to a New England village in California, Mendocino lets you stroll past tidy saltbox cottages wrapped in roses and picket fences, wind chimes tinkling in the breeze…”
National Geographic Adventure on Surfing the Lost Coast:
“We’d been walking for hours on that vast Northern California beach, our feet sinking in the sand under our heavy packs and a 20-knot headwind pushing us backward, blowing our surfboards around like sails, when I finally saw them: three vague forms shimmering in the sun-dappled distance, rising and falling with the undulating dunes…”
Bark Magazine: Mendocino with Dogs
“Most of the Mendocino’s state parks have the six-foot-leash policy but if off-leash is what you need, hit Noyo Harbor Beach in Fort Bragg…Catch-a-Canoe and Bicycles Too, right up from the inn on Big River, welcomes dogs on most of their larger boats and provides dog lifejackets…”
Mendocino’s Stand-Up Paddling Scene
“Nearly ten percent of the county consists of water, and ten rivers flow one way or another through Mendocino. Eight of those reach the ocean. SUPers have it made in Mendocino, with majestic scenery along the craggy coastline as well as the redwood lined interior…”
Trailer Life: In Search of Giants
“Visitors come from all over the world to hike through California’s primeval forests and stand in awe beneath canopies of ancient redwoods and giant sequoias, the tallest trees on earth..”
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Mendocino’s World-Class Mountain Biking Trails
“Mendocino – well known for its quaint bed & breakfast inns, whale watching, art, and wine – is quickly becoming an epic world-class mountain biking destination…As mountain biking continues to grow in popularity, communities are rapidly discovering the many benefits of a healthy, sustainable trail system.”