It’s that time of year! With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to decide where to celebrate that seasonal cheer. Picture this. You’re knee-deep in research for your upcoming getaway, on the hunt for luxury vacation rentals, and planning your family’s time away. It’s becoming a little overwhelming and you’re no closer to locking down your final destination. Consider us your personal travel connoisseurs and allow us to introduce you to the majestic Anderson Valley. Renowned for its unparalleled scenery (think towering roadside Redwoods), world-class wineries, and boutique cider breweries, the Anderson Valley is en route to one of our very own premium vacation rentals, Chateau Frolic. But exactly where is Anderson Valley? Put on your seatbelt and we’ll take you there.
Where is Anderson Valley?
The Anderson Valley is situated approximately 110 miles from the thriving San Francisco Bay Area, along the scenic drive between Santa Rosa and the Mendocino Coast. Formed where the Anderson Creek joins the Navarro River, the valley spans 15 miles and boasts impressive landscapes. It’s comprised of 4 villages, the largest of which is Boonville. To the east you’ll find the ranches and farms of Yorkville and, to the west, the folksy villages of Philo and Navarro. The Anderson Valley is about irresistible wines, unforgettable farm-to-table dining experiences, and lazy drives through Mother Nature.
One of Mendocino County’s favorite gems, the Anderson Valley is the perfect destination for local Californian residents looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life in the big city. Domestic and international visitors will touch down at the San Francisco International Airport, and resident San Franciscans can pack their bags, load their trunks, and begin their Mendocino road trip heading North on California’s famous Highway 101. About an hour up the road, you’ll pass the wealthy and eclectic city of Santa Rosa (we recommend stopping for gourmet coffee!). Continue to head north and exit at Highway 128 en route to Anderson Valley. About 30 minutes up the road you’ll be welcomed to Boonville, and have officially entered the remarkable Anderson Valley wine region. Here’s what you can do while exploring the area!
Go Wine Tasting and Wander the Vineyards
No Mendocino travel guide would be complete without a shoutout to the Anderson Valley’s award-winning wines, expert local winemakers, and sprawling vineyards. The area’s incoming coastal fogs and cool, consistent climate make it perfect for grape cultivation, and while the Pinot Noir variety is more prominent in the region, Chardonnay and other varieties also thrive in certain areas. Many Mendocino wineries are boutique, family-owned operations, and this is particularly true of the Anderson Valley.
In the town of Philo, we love the Maggy Hawk Wine Tasting Room. Sip pinot noir indoors or out, and have some fun on the patio’s bocce ball court. Grab a bottle, pick up a gourmet sandwich at one of the local stores, and make the 15-minute drive to their nearby vineyard. Take a seat at a picnic table and revel in panoramic views that are truly a photographer’s dream.
If you’re a big wine lover and staying at our luxury vacation rental Mendocino, Chateau Frolic, our travel experts can arrange private tours and day trips to all the best tasting rooms and vineyards the Anderson Valley has to offer.
Experience Local Markets
If you are researching things to do in Mendocino, you can’t go past the Anderson Valley’s local markets and artisanal stores. Just a few minutes from the Maggie Hawk Tasting Room you’ll find one of our favorites, the Bewildered Pig. Here, the vibe is “cozy cabin in the woods meets mystical, candlelit apothecary”. The market sells a range of local beers, wines, and edibles, as well as natural remedies, skincare items, and a full range of mushroom-related products. It’s the perfect stop for that holiday gift or souvenir.
Back in Boonville, lovers of wine and specialty foods will adore the Disco Ranch. Created by industry expert Wendy Lamer, this is a one-stop shop for those hosting a fancy get-together or simply exploring the area. Local and imported wines (and French champagnes!), gourmet cheeses, and charcuterie sit alongside pasta, marmalades, and pestos. Grab and go, or pop a bottle and snack on the market’s cozy patio. Well worth the stop!
Roam the Redwoods
Mendocino hiking trails are some of California’s favorites, and just a 5-minute drive from Disco Ranch you’ll come to Hendy Woods State Park. A small entry fee is charged at the entrance and we recommend requesting a map when paying, as some of the park’s areas can be difficult to navigate.
If you are already a few glasses in, enjoy some of that cheese and cold cuts from Disco Ranch at a picnic table beneath towering Coastal Redwoods and snap some pics for the Gram. Those ready for something a little more active can take one of the various hiking trails that wind through some of the park’s 80 acres of glory. Poke your head into ancient downed Redwoods, enjoy a canoe or kayak ride, or take a summer dip in cool water beneath an impressive canopy of foliage. Fun fact? The park was once home to the Hendy Hermit, a Russian immigrant who lived in makeshift shelters for 18 years in the middle of the 20th century. You can learn more about this interesting character on a half-day, organized hiking experience. For more info on the park’s rules and safety regulations, visit the website here.
It’s a Foodie’s Paradise
Some of the most praised Mendocino restaurants call the Anderson Valley home. In what is a true hybrid of traditional fine dining and the authentic farm-to-table experience, there is no shortage of places to wine and dine while experiencing Anderson Valley cuisine at its finest.
One of our favorite stops is the Boonville Hotel, established in the late 1800s and considered the historic heart of the town. The hotel has a cozy bed-and-breakfast vibe, and its onsite restaurant is a celebrity in itself. With Michelin Star award-winning chef Perry Hoffman at the helm, this diner’s delight serves scrumptious, prix fixe menus that change seasonally. Ingredients are sourced both locally and from the hotel’s cultivated gardens. Enjoy your meal at sunset at a garden table, or visit Memorial Day through mid-October for Paella Sundays in the outdoor bar. What we love most about this gem is its ever-evolving nature, and while prices can be high, the experience is well worth the extra dollars.
You might also want to check out Wickson Restaurant back in Philo, whose concept is relatively simple. Fresh flavors and locally sourced ingredients are woodfire-grilled to perfection and delivered to your table for the ultimate dining pleasure. Chef Jason Azevedo puts a distinctly North Californian flare on any dish, and an extensive menu of local and international wines and beers has been carefully cultivated to cater to every palette.
Where to stay while away.
After a long day spent exploring the many wonders the Anderson Valley has to offer, what better place to rest your head than at Chateau Frolic, an example of luxury Mendocino accommodations at their finest? Surrounded by rugged cliffs and sporting unparalleled views of the north California coastline, the 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom masterpiece sleeps 8 and features a cozy onsite library and a barbeque area designed for family fun. Sip your Anderson Valley wine in style by the outdoor hot tub, enjoy private chef-prepared gourmet meals on the outdoor terraces, or peruse fine art in Chateau Frolic’s very own gallery. And a private driver is available to help you on the short drive back to Anderson Valley should a little more wine tasting be on the itinerary the following day.
At Destinations in Paradise, we are here to make your Mendocino road trip through Anderson Valley an experience you won’t easily forget. Contact us today and let’s plan your getaway!