California’s winding coastline and seemingly endless scenic adventures are the dream fodder of local, domestic and international travelers alike. The Golden State’s mild climate and Instagram-ready West Coast sunsets reel in wanderers year round, and with so much on offer, nailing down those travel itineraries can involve some tough decisions (like where to find the best vacation rental Mendocino can provide!). Whether you're short on time and escaping the daily grind for a weekend away, or flying in for an extended vacation, the 3-hour drive from San Francisco to Mendocino along the winding Pacific Coast Highway is one you won’t easily forget. Here’s our guide on what to see, where to stop, and why you’ll love it. Be sure to read to the end for our tips on vacation rentals you'll keep coming back to.
Any respectable road trip from San Francisco begins at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The 1.7-mile-long architectural marvel spans the Golden Gate, a 1-mile-wide straight that connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Take a boat tour around the bay, join the bike riders as they cross the bridge, or take a historical tour of nearby Alcatraz prison, before packing up the picnic baskets and hitting the road.
A short 20-minute drive north brings you to Muir Beach. Stroll the 450-foot-long pedestrian bridge from the parking lot down to the sand, sit back, and watch the waves roll in. In autumn, you may be lucky enough to spot one of the thousands of orange and black Monarch butterflies that migrate to the California Coast and rest in surrounding Monterey Pines. Take the winding staircase down the cliff face to the Overlook and snap some selfies for the Gram or, for the more daring, visit the northernmost end of Muir beach where clothing is optional for that all-over tan!
Just over 40 minutes up the CA-1 N on route to your vacation rental Mendocino you’ll hit the Point Reyes National Seashore. Now, this natural sanctuary is a destination in itself, so if you have time to spare you may want to make a day of it. Swim the area's many beaches, hike its trails, and bask in the natural beauty of nearby Alamere Falls, before bunking down at the campgrounds if you need to stay the night. There are park rangers onsite to give you the history of the area, and we guarantee you won’t regret the stop.
At this point, you’re probably hankering for a snack! Only 15 minutes up the highway from Point Reyes, you’ll find the small town of Marshall tucked into the shores of Tomales Bay. Marshall’s Hog Island Oyster Company is THE place to stop. Shuck your own or enjoy pre-prepared varieties at picnic tables along the bay as you take in the views and soak up those fisherman’s village vibes. If you're making more than a day trip of your drive to Mendocino, there are a number of killer vacation rentals in and around Marshall in which to spend the night.
While this is a coastal drive, the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is well worth the detour. Located about an hour up the coast from Marshall and 15 minutes inland, Redwoods in the area have been known to survive up to 2000 years and grow to 350 feet. Even the slightly smaller examples of the species are a sight to behold, so take one of the walking trails or sit back and breathe in the zen.
By this time you are probably exhausted and itching to relax in your vacation rental Mendocino, but we have one more stop for you on the way. Point Arena lighthouse is one of the Pacific Coast Highway’s most famous. Take a guided tour for a minimal fee, visit the indoor or outdoor museums, and stock up on souvenirs and refreshments at the lighthouse store before embarking on the last leg of your journey.
As you pull into Mendocino, immediate relaxation awaits! This tiny artists' colony boasts a temperate, Mediterranean climate, meaning you’ll experience temperatures in the 50s and 60s year-round. The town’s local population is less than 1000, and its people are warm, friendly, and accustomed to the tourist influx. Home to smaller boutique hotels, quaint BnBs, and an impressive catalog of luxury vacation rentals Mendocino has just what you are looking for when escaping the daily grind is a must.
So where to stay? When Googling vacation rentals here, there, or anywhere, the options are almost always overwhelming. If you want to do Mendocino right, you can’t beat the stunning Chateau Frolic. The vacation rental Mendocino loves to brag about boasts 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, sleeping a total of 8 people and making it the perfect place for a romantic getaway, weekend retreat, or intimate celebration. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame jaw-dropping ocean views, which can be enjoyed (cocktail in hand) from the villa’s observation decks. A hot tub, media room, and chef’s kitchen will have you wanting to hibernate, but don’t miss out on the nearby Anderson and Napa wineries. And, when in Mendocino… visit the Mendocino Chocolate Company! It’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious and you’ll want to pack a supply for the trip back.
They say it's the journey and not the destination. However you plan to travel the Californian coast, this is one road trip we are sure you'll remember. Welcome to Mendocino, where Chateau Frolic awaits!
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