The charming and historic village of Mendocino is located on a rocky peninsula, jutting into the Pacific and allowing for picturesque views from almost anywhere in town. That’s because the three sides of the village that border the ocean are a state park and cannot be developed, unlike many, or even most, waterfront towns and cities.
Discover breathtaking ocean views, fresh salt air, dramatic rock arches, and beautiful sunsets on the three sides of the village of Mendocino that border the ocean
Instead of condos and high rises, Mendocino’s shoreline is home to Mendocino Headlands State Park, featuring miles of trails wending through coastal prairie, wildflowers, ice plants, and blackberry vines. You can walk out of the shops on Main Street and right into the park, a unique experience. The trails are easy to follow and adaptable for every fitness level. You can walk part of the trails, or all of them, it’s up to you.
Whichever path – or trail – you choose, you will be rewarded by breathtaking ocean views, fresh salt air, the distinctive cries of seagulls, and dramatic rock arches, as well as breathtakingly beautiful sunsets. Birdwatchers will enjoy the wide range of sea and shore birds, which may include ospreys and oystercatchers in addition to herons, ravens, ducks, seagulls, and hummingbirds. Forgot your binoculars? Just step across the street to Out of This World, where you’ll find a wide range of binoculars, telescopes, and amusing educational toys and games for kids of all ages.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take the wooden steps down to pretty, sandy Portuguese beach, a great spot for picnics or tide pooling. Note that there’s not much beach left at high tide! You can also extend your hike by taking the trail past the iconic Presbyterian Church on Main Street down to Big River Beach, where you can play on the beach, rent a canoe or kayak to explore the river, or meander down the scenic Haul Road.
Walking the headlands is a pleasure year round. The ocean is ever-changing and is beautiful in every mood, from winter’s storms to summer’s cool breezes. The trails are popular with hikers and runners, as well as painters and photographers. Dogs are welcome on leash. Be careful at the edges of the cliffs, particularly when accompanied by children. Dress in layers, since it can be breezy.
The Mendocino Headlands surround the village of Mendocino. Trails can be found starting at the Ford House Museum, which serves as the visitor center for the village and is located on Main Street, or at the northern end, trails start at Heeser Drive. In July, the headlands near the Ford House host the Mendocino Music Festival in its signature white tent, drawing artists and appreciative audiences from all over the country.