A stroll along Mendocino’s marquee bluffs is pretty much mandatory when you visit, and Mendocino Headlands State Park, which surrounds the charming hamlet of Mendocino, offers your best panoramic bet.
Trails leave right from town and curve along the dramatic coastal bluffs, leading to a blowhole, a beach, and unforgettable views. Catch a sunset here, when the waves are transformed into a tangerine oasis and the town behind you looks like an old postcard photo painted in perfect indigo light.
For a more off-the-beaten-path option, head just a few miles south of town to mystical Spring Ranch at Van Damme State Park, where you’ll find expansive headlands and a less-traveled trail system that slinks bluffside, passing rocky outcroppings that resemble a moonscape.
This setting is safe to travel on, but is exposed to the elements. About a mile along the trail you’ll come to a bench perched above sea stacks, crashing waves, and teeming tide pools that are out of reach from land. The bench makes a good turnaround point. Marquee Mendo stroll.
BONUS WINE: On your way back to the Bay Area, stop at Navarro Vineyards & Winery in Anderson Valley. Specializing in white wines like Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, Navarro’s outdoor patio is a nice place to take in the rolling scenery. The folks in the tasting room are super friendly, and so is the tasting fee: there isn’t one!