While skyrocketing tourism has turned Napa and Sonoma from humble farmland to playground for the rich, Mendocino County is charting a different path forward.
With a focus on locally grown and harvested food, organic wine and cannabis, and outdoor wellness experiences, Mendo enhances its good ecological fortune with modern sustainability and style.
Explore the best of the crunchy county, from the Art Deco design of the Bohemian Chemist’s estate-grown weed to the plant-based splendor of the Stanford Inn & Resort to the farmhouse-chic Cafe Beaujolais. Our weekend Mendocino County itinerary will help you pull it off.
Friday Afternoon: Road Trip Through the Anderson Valley
The Bohemian Chemist cannabis shop at the Madrones in Philo.
12pm: Disco Ranch
After a couple hours in the car, the first order of business in Mendo is to fuel up with local goodies. At Disco Ranch, which is neither a ranch nor a disco (for a fun story, ask owner Wendy Lamer how the name came to be), the shelves are packed to the gills with Mendo-grown bottles, cheeses, charcuterie, conservas, snacks, and so much more. If you’re feeling peckish, order a few freshly prepared plates of tasty tapas like piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese, dolmas, and sliders to nosh on the broad outdoor patio. When you’ve cleaned your plate, stock up for a proper picnic under the apple trees at Gowan’s (see below) and whatever else the weekend throws your way. // 14025 Hwy 128 (Boonville), discoranch.com
1pm: The Madrones
Tucked inside the Madrones, a Mediterranean villa just west of Boonville, are two tasting rooms and a cannabis apothecary with vintage charm that are worth a stop. At the Bohemian Chemist, organic estate- and Anderson Valley–grown flower and concentrates, along with other healing lotions, potions, and edibles, are displayed in Art Deco style. Grab some “giggle smokes” for later then pop into the Mendo outpost of the Napa farm and vineyards at Long Meadow Ranch for a taste of the pinot noirs, chardonnays, and pinot gris they sustainably-produce on 69 acres near the Navarro River. If you have a little more time to spend, consider spending the night in one of the Madrones’ stately guest rooms, especially during their monthly cannabis-infused dinner, a seven-course meal turbo-charged with microdoses of marijuana. // 9000 Hwy 128 (Philo), themadrones.com
3pm: Gowan’s Heirloom Ciders
A couple more miles down the road, belly up to the rustic bar or settle down with your Disco Ranch spread in California’s first cider tasting orchard. Gowan’s, a sixth-generation family farm nearly 150 years old, distills their heirloom and heritage apples into multiple award-winning ciders ranging from the crisp, refreshing gravenstein apple wine to the cinnamon-and-clove spiced apple cider, which you can get warm with a dollop of whipped cream. Do a full tasting or order a couple of bottles to wash down your picnic. And don’t forget the apple chutneys—they’re a great way to zhuzh up your cheese and charcuterie. // 6320 CA-128 (Philo), gowansheirloomcider.com
Friday Night: Plant-based Wellness at Stanford Inn & Resort
A top-floor executive king room at Stanford Inn.
(Courtesy of Stanford Inn)
5pm: Stanford Inn & Resort
Draped across a coastal hillside overlooking the bay is one of Mendocino’s most sustainable jewels, the Stanford Inn & Resort. After a day on the road, check in at this dog-friendly Shangri-la, just across the river from Mendo town, which is known for its blooming organic gardens, plant-based cuisine, and easygoing wellness offering. Wood paneling and fireplaces warm the cozy guest rooms while the pool, dry sauna, and hot tub take up residence beneath the glass ceiling of an oversized, light-filled greenhouse. Nearly everything at the Stanford is designed to reset, restore, and revitalize you inside and out, from daily yoga and pilates to classes in gardening and cooking to nature tours, mushroom walks, and massage treatments. The resort’s mini donkeys, llamas, and horses are the hoofed icing on the eco-friendly cake. // 44850 Comptche Ukiah Rd. (Mendocino), stanfordinn.com
7pm: Ravens Restaurant
Sit down to dinner at the Stanford’s Ravens Restaurant, which was a plant-based pioneer before plant-based was even a thing. The organic restaurant, which draws some of its produce and herbs from the gardens at its foot, has a menu that expertly weaves local and global flavors. Cruelty-free dishes like maple-tamari glazed tofu, local sea palm and root vegetable strudel in sesame phyllo, and Thai red curry with kabocha squash are hearty and full of flavor. Keep an eye out for special menus celebrating Mendocino’s seasonal bounty, like mid-November’s four-course mushroom-focused meal. // 44850 Comptche Ukiah Rd. (Mendocino), stanfordinn.com
Saturday: Big River + Mendocino Village
Catch a Canoe's dog-friendly outrigger on Big River.
(Courtesy of @vietmac)
11am: Catch a Canoe & Bicycles Too
On the banks of Big River at the edge of the Stanford Inn, Catch a Canoe rents outrigger boats to float through Mendocino’s serene, turquoise waters. Even if you’ve never canoed or kayaked, the sturdy vessels, which are steered by foot rudders instead of paddles, are easy to navigate through the channel and around resident harbor seals and herons. Reserve your outrigger in advance to spend a couple hours or a full day paddling. Order a to-go lunch at breakfast to bring along for the ride and don’t forget your pup—they’re welcome to join the trip. Prefer to keep the earth firmly under your feet? Reserve a bike, instead (free for guests of the inn). The 10-mile-long Big River Trail is just across the water from the shop. // 10051 S. Big River Rd. (Mendocino), catchacanoe.com
7pm: Cafe Beaujolais
It’s tempting not to leave the Stanford but, with quaint Mendocino just across the bridge, it would be criminal not to make a trip to town. Dinner is the perfect opportunity. Inside a historic Victorian farmhouse, you’ll find Cafe Beaujolais. This long-time village favorite serves exquisite dishes showcasing local ingredients—think wild mushroom risotto and an eight-hour fettuccine Bolognese—alongside a menu of local wines ideal for getting the flavor of the regional terroir. The property also houses two newer additions: The Brickery, a wood-fired brick oven pizza cafe (open for lunch only), and the Waiting Room, a cozy lounge that wakes up with artisan coffee and pastries and goes to bed with beer and wine. // 961 Ukiah St. (Mendocino), cafebeajolais.com
Sunday: Botanical Gardens, Wine + Cheese
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Ft. Bragg.
(Courtesy of @mendocinocoastbotanicalgardens)
10am: Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Whether the morning is moody with fog or sunny and bright, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens will take your breath away. Head to the 47-acre conservatory after breakfast (non-members must buy tickets online in advance) to stroll among ethereal mounds of heath and heather and plump blooms of fuchsia, dahlia, and begonia. As this is Mendocino, the gardens are also home to more than 160 species of mushroom, which you can learn about more in depth on weekly mushroom walks. Nights between Thanksgiving and December, the Festival of Lights illuminates the coastal estate with twinkling installations in vivid color. // 18220 N. Hwy 1 (Fort Bragg), gardenbythesea.org
12:30pm: Pennyroyal Farm
On your way back to the Bay, make a pitstop at Pennyroyal Farms in Boonville. Put the punctuation mark on your weekend with a final tasting of pinots and sauv blancs at the sister winery to Navarro Vineyards. In the farm shop, you can pick up wedges of cheese made at the onsite creamery, along with olive oil, dulce de leche, and a few pre-prepared frozen meals that will be thaw out just enough on the drive to pop in the oven when you get home. Don’t leave without saying hi to the goats! // 14930 Hwy 128 (Boonville), pennyroyalfarm.com