AFter much research on TA and Fodors, I thought it time to contribute back to the community! My husband and 2 year old toddler drove up from SF to Mendocino/Ft. Bragg and spent 3 idyllic nights at Little River Inn. We loved Mendocino and Ft. Bragg!
So a few highlights...
1) driving on 128 after a lunch pit stop in healdsburg was really beautiful. no wine for us since we just flew in and wanted to check in. healdsburg was a must stop for lunch. i kinda was thinking mendocino would be like healdsburg but healdsburg is way more upscale than mendocino. beautiful shopping/wine tasting and art galleries, but honestly, we just enjoyed our oakville grocery sandwiches and half bottle.
2) little river inn-- thank you TA for the reviews, i'll be sure to post our review, we're so grateful to have stayed there with the incredible views and friendly staff. my toddler would have tore up any B&B...and we can't enjoy fancy dinners anymore...
3) explore ft. bragg and the mendocino botanical gardens which was wonderful. loved the restaurant options in ft. bragg and glass beach-- particularly on the far end, sand was silky, great walk along the ocean (great for strollers/wheelchairs) especially loved the coffee and friendly local crowd at the hillside? coffee shop in ft. bragg. we ran into everyone we had met including fellow travelers and bartender from Little River Inn! oh and this coffee shop was incredibly kid friendly with lots of books, toys for a wiggly kid!
4) explored noyo harbor which looked really run down but enjoyed a lovely non alchoholic lunch on herons by the sea. really great fish and chips for 9.99. quite gourmet for the price and again, super kid friendly with friendly seagulls, big painted rowboat. don't let the junky drive down to the harbor scare you from very good eats!
5) did the obligatory van damn fern canyon trail, but we're from seattle, so all the ferns, and creek trails were pretty old hat for us. i did enjoy the visitors center and learning about abalone fishing, which i hope to do w/ our family when the kid gets older
6) hit the wineries with a vengeance! definitely loved navarro and bought 2 bottles of pinot noir. loved the family, consumer focus. beautiful outside picnic/dining options and really enjoyed the wine which for $30 (for the methode ancienne) was $10-$15 dollars cheaper for what i thought were comparable wines. big caveat, i am NOT a wine expert, i just know what I like...
7) next visited roederer where they were quite snobby (i tried to call for a last minute tour and got a lecture) but whatever...the champagne was tasty and met someone else who recommended toulouse
8) hit toulouse and met vern, the winemaker. super super friendly and delicious wines. the kid loved the talking parrot and friendly dogs while mum was really starting to enjoy the wines.
9) went to philips hill because we learned that toby from phillips hill bought grapes from toulouse and that he was an artist who designed his labels. philips tasting room is quite modern and next door libby's smelled great but i was anxious to try the boonville hotel for lunch on our way back to SF
10) boonville hotel closed! so tried Lauren's which had a great ambience and food, and loved the artwork.
we had a wonderful time and of course after all this, guess what i saw on the WSJ?!?
Happy Labor Day Weekend!