Exploring the Northern California Coast

They say time flies when you are having fun! So true, the older I get the quicker time seems to pass me by! A few weekends ago my husband Larry and I, celebrated our 20th year wedding anniversary. It seems like yesterday, that we got married! Since we both love exploring new places, we decided to take a long weekend trip and check out the Northern California coast.

We started our journey on Wednesday flying from Houston to San Francisco, got in our rented a car and made our way past the Golden Gate Bridge and onto Sonoma.

We had reservations at a quaint small hotel right in the heart of the Sonoma town square called El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen We got very lucky and found a parking spot right in front of the entrance. We loved the hotel, the location was superb, the staff extremely friendly and the room was clean, comfortable and decorated well. 

After we freshened up, we walked around the square, looking at the many quaint stores this town has to offer and dined at the Girl and the Fig. The restaurant was exquisite with impeccable service and wonderful ambiance, I highly recommend it. We started with a Cheese and Mano Formate Charcuterie Platter, a large platter of three selections of wonderful cheese, cured meats, condiments, spiced nuts and a fresh baguette. I had a Fig and Arugula salad, while Larry had Wild Flounder Meunière both pictured below. Of course, while in Sonoma we accompanied the meal with local wine!

The next morning, we visited Sonoma Market to pick up some snacks and local produce for our trip up the coast. Why is everything so beautiful in California? Even the parking lot was adorned with Drift Roses of every color in full bloom!

We decided to head to Mendocino via the coast road Highway 1. The drive from Sonoma was a little less than 3 hours. Mendocino County is a stunning area! Most of the road is windy terrain, going up and down mountains and cliffs with beautiful blue water crashing on them. While on the adjacent side the green wilderness makes it like no other place. The 130 mile drive is dotted with picturesque small seaside villages that showcase some of the most natural and stunning landscapes I have ever seen. Below Jenner, one of the first villages we came across.

Below, view from Timber Cove Resort

Cooks beach in the town of Gualala. This quaint little town deserves a stop as it is quite an art colony. We enjoyed visiting the art center and some of the many galleries in town

Elk, a sweet little town with epic views of the ocean, while on the other side green hillsides and rural land. Truly the best of both worlds!

Established in the 1850’s, Mendocino is the only town on the Californian Coast that is designated as a Historical Landmark. The architecture here reminded me of Maine– with its New England style Victorians and quaint Saltbox cottages. Apart from the gorgeous coastline; this peninsula is surrounded on three sides with wildflower covered bluffs. There is an abundance of flowers here and many of the Mendocino Inns and businesses have beautiful gardens to enjoy. Mendocino is a paradise set on a hill with crashing waves, sandy beaches, old-fashioned water towers, flower covered picket fences and sandy beaches amid a quintessential little town.

Some of the flowers of Mendocino

Below, the Goodlife Café & Bakery– an excellent location for breakfast. They serve fresh organic food with local quality ingredients. I highly recommend this place.

Larry and I stayed at a cottage called Applegate Cottage, just outside downtown Mendocino. The cottage was sweet and very comfortable situated on a 100 year old apple orchard that belongs to Mrs. Nancy Puder. She was a lovely tenant. If you want to have some peace and get away from it all, yet be close to downtown Mendocino this location is ideal. Nancy is also full of ideas and knowledge about Mendocino and the surrounding area. As an additional treat on the farm there are chickens and sheep, and Nancy supplied us daily with fresh eggs and home-made jam!

The view through our window

Larry feeding the sheep, he made friends with all the animals on the ranch!

Just north of Mendocino we visited Fort Braggs, here are the locals getting some sun!

Another beautiful area around Mendocino was travelling on route 128 to Boonville. From Route 1 just past the mouth of the Navarro River and the Pacific Ocean we got onto Route 128. This highway travels upriver through the coast Redwood Forest of the Navarro River Redwoods State Park.

Past the Redwood Forest we arrived at an area called Anderson Valley, beautiful land full or apple orchards and vineyards.

We stopped at Pennyroyal Farms a vineyard and farm committed to producing the finest goat/sheep cheeses from their own goats and sheep on the farm. These pampered animals feast on wild grasses and pennyroyal mint that blankets the sixty six acre farmstead and vineyard in Boonville.

They have a lovely restaurant and shop at the Farm, where you can either have lunch, or take your favorite cheeses and wines home! Larry and I indulged and did both.

Photo Credit: Pennyroyal Farms

Photo Credit: Pennyroyal Farms

The chicken coup at Pennyroyal farms –I love the idea of a chicken coup on wheels! e

Below, the lovely scenery around Ukiah

Our weekend getaway quickly came to an end! But, what a beautiful area we have discovered. We vow to be back again soon!

Below, saying goodbye to the huge Northern Californian sea-gulls!

Do you have any favorite destinations for a long weekend get-away?  Let me know in the comments!

Ciao Mardel


  1. Magali

    Wow!!! the Northern California coast seems beautiful! It’s funny how you don’t hear much about it! I’ve been to Carmel and Big Sur- but next visit I’m going to Mendocino! Great idea– thank you for sharing Mardel!

  2. Karen Rice

    I grew up in northern California. I miss the beauty of the coast and giant redwoods. Thank you for taking me back.

    • boxwoodandblooms

      Karen, you were so lucky to grow up there! I think it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in the US! I’ll definitely be going back!!!

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