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Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

San Antonio, TX
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Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

We are going to go to Mendocino for one night from the Santa Rosa/Sebastopol area next month. We went to Mendocino from SF in Oct and got a little lost so we weren't able to take the advice we'd been given to not get on Hwy 1 until after Bodega Bay--turned out to be VERRRRY good advice. Don't want to waste a ton of time and unwarranted motion sickness again if Hwy 1 isn't "all that" from these two points. Is Hwy 1 beautiful and actually along the coast north of Bodega Bay? Or should we take 128 to just get to Mendocino as quickly as possible so we have more time there? We want to soak up as much scenery and California gorgeousness as we can in this short time and I'd like for Hwy 1 to be redeemed in our mind if possible, but we definitely feel like most of the time we were on it last visit was wasted. Thanks!

santa rosa, ca
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1. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

Taking Hwy. 1 from Santa Rosa via River Rd to Jenner and north to Mendocino is about 2 hrs and 40 minutes. The inland route, 101 north to Hwy. 128 west, is a bit shorter...about 2 hrs and 15 minutes. My suggestion is to go up by Route 1 and come home along 128. Both routes are very scenic, IMO, and offer lots of *California gorgeousness*. I hope you have a wonderful time!

San Jose, California
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2. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

I don't think you will go wrong either way. Hwy 1 is great - lots of gorgeous coastal views. It is definitely "all that". However, Hwy 128 is very scenic as well and even with that route, you will have several miles of Hwy 1 before you get to Mendocino. And of course, the coast right around Mendocino is wonderful.

The choice really comes down to whether you personally want to spend more time on the drive or the destination.

Napa, CA
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3. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

Welcome back, amc1217

I'm sorry you became "a little lost" last October. Did you take 128 both ways? Both Hwy 1 and 128 have their twisty sections. These can't be avoided but 128 may be the better route for you if the weather is inclement. When we go to Mendocino, we like to take hwy 1 one way and 128 the other. But, we wait until the day of our trip to decide which way to go based on the weather.

If you have good weather, I would take Hwy 1 in the northerly direction if you have any fear of heights since you will be hugging the inside lane rather than the one on the cliff side. This can be more important for the passenger than the driver.

If you take 1, just drive over to Bodega Bay and drive north. It's a great day trip to get to Mendocino. If it's a weekend, make sure you stop at Fort Ross State Park and see where the Russians had their operations back in the early 1800s.

Hwy 1 is slow going but it's not as bad as that part near Muir Beach and Stinson Beach that you took last year. Here's a picture of the road from the air taken just south of Fort Ross:

californiacoastline.org/cgi-bin/image.cgi…

You can play with the Northwest and Southwest buttons to move up and down the coast.

So, if you take Hwy 1 north, then you can come back via 128 through the redwoods and the beautiful Anderson Valley.

I hope you get decent weather and have a great trip!

Edit: Sorry for any redundancy. I was typing when the other posts were written.

Edited: 3:14 pm, April 03, 2012
Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

I agree that to get the best experience, driving both routes, Hwy 1 and Hwy 128, one up and the other back would be good. I might suggest driving Hwy 1 going north. 8 miles of the drive of Hwy 1 from Jenner rivals the drive up the Big Sur Coast, and if you are a little nervous on cliffs you would be driving on the inside. It is not really that bad, nor that long, just a beautiful drive with pullouts to stop and enjoy the views of the coast. It should not be missed.

On this route, Fort Ross State Park is a fort occupied by the Russians in the early 1800's to preserve their influence in the New World and where they had an otter fur trading post. The lovely little wooden Russian Orthodox chapel is a good photo op. Further up the coast, the town of Gualala is an art colony and its Arts Center is worth a visit.

Hwy 128 goes through vineyard country and passes several wineries. It, also, is a pretty drive.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

I, too, was typing while Supercilious was and got interrupted in the middle so I did not see his message until I posted. I think we are of the same mind, anyway.

(Oops, maybe Supercilious is a "she".)

Edited: 3:36 pm, April 03, 2012
Newberg, Oregon
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6. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

We've done this trip a few times and agree that Hwy 1 northbound and 128 south is the way to go. Hit a few of the wineries along 128, too.

San Antonio, TX
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7. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

Any suggestions on which winery or two is a must-do on 128? We might be able to hit one on our way down to Sonoma.

Newberg, Oregon
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8. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

Navarro makes a variety of excellent wines -- pinots and chardonnays at very reasonable (for California) prices and IMO the best gewurztraminer in the U.S. Yummy late-harvest dessert wines, too.

Roederer and Scharffenberger produce great sparkling wines -- Roederer is a little spendier and more widely know, but both are among our favorites.

Edited: 8:40 pm, May 02, 2012
Napa, CA
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9. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

Handley makes some really nice wines too including sparkling. It was one of the first wineries owned and managed by a woman.

http://www.handleycellars.com/index.jsp

Their Pinot Noir is superb.

Hendersonville, NC
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10. Re: Santa Rosa area to Mendocino--best route for a day trip

Sorry to hijack your thread, amc1217, but this is a great question that definitely applies to my road trip in September.

My question to the experts is: I'll be coming down from the Oregon coast and going south from Mendo to Santa Rosa en route to San Fran, so don't have the luxury of going both ways on a round trip. I was going to do the Highway 1 coastal route, making a brief stop to see Bodega Head and do a short hike, before cutting over to Santa Rosa. However, as someone who is afraid of heights (though it's something I'm going to try to conquer on this cross-country road trip), I'm a bit worried about those steep drop-off sections, especially in the southbound lane.

Is it bad enough that I'd be better off taking 128, in which I'd miss out on the gorgeous Jenner area and the beautiful stop at Bodega Head, but still have a really pretty drive without being completely terrified? It's a tough call, since most of my road trip is inland, so I wanted to maximize as much ocean time as I can.

Thanks!