Magazine article Sunset

A Perfect Day in Mendocino

Magazine article Sunset

A Perfect Day in Mendocino

Article excerpt

Great eats, historic inns, stunning views. The only thing you won't find in this NorCal seaside town is cell service. And that's the point.

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In for the krill

The ocean bluffs of Mendocino Headlands State Park offer VIP viewing to the best show in town this month when migrating gray whales journey from Baja breeding grounds back to Alaska. "They stick fairly close to shore," says park ranger Dave Rodrigues, "and you'll sometimes see whole pods spouting less than a mile away." Catch a glimpse at the Mendocino Whale Festival (Mar 5-6), where you can take a docent-led whale-watch walk before sampling chowders and sipping Mendocino County wines. More of a landlubber? Farther inland, Van Damme State Park's Fern Canyon Scenic Trail runs 3.5 miles long, passing through lush redwood forest (home to five owl species) and crossing nine bridges as it follows a creek where river otters are known to frolic. Headlands State Park: parks. ca.gov/?page_id=442. Whale Festival: mendowhale.com. Van Damme State Park: $6/vehicle; parks.ca.gov/?page_id=433.

It takes a village to feed you

Cafe Beaujolais achieved near-legendary status after Margaret Fox took over the farmhouse turned restaurant back in 1977. Four decades and several owners later, its Cal-French mojo still works with dishes like pan-roasted California sturgeon with a truffle emulsion, and bouillabaisse brimming with fresh seafood. A few blocks away at Trillium Cafe, the menu might include grilled wild-mushroom flatbread, local albacore, and a creamy Meyer lemon tart. Two streets over, GoodLife Cafe and Bakery serves sweet treats but also a great selection of lunch dishes, from Cubano panini and pesto-spinach-mushroom quiche to soups like poblano-com chowder. Cafe Beaujolais: $$$; 961 Ukiah St.; cafebeaujolais.com.

Trillium: $$$; 10390 Kasten St.; trilliummendocino.com. GoodLife: $; 10483 Lansing St.; good lifecafemendo.com.

The path of history

Just how did Mendocino get from rip-roaring, 19th-century lumber town to a nationally designated historic preservation district? …

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