If you’ve always dreamed of going on an epic adventure on the road, why postpone it any longer? If you were waiting for a sign of encouragement, it’s this blog! Here, we’ll show you how fun and exciting a road trip from Los Angeles to Mendocino can be, with lots of tips and stops to make along the way. Get ready to take notes, add things to your bucket list, and remember to bring a camera along!
What can you do in our beautiful town of Mendocino? Download our free Vacation Guide and find out! This travel tool features all of our favorite recommendations for local restaurants, events, shops, museums, outdoor activities, and more!
Have the Adventure of a Lifetime Driving From Los Angeles to Mendocino
Before You Leave
The key to a successful trip is preparation. Don’t start driving blindly along the highway! Instead, take some time to sit down and map out your itinerary. The drive from Los Angeles to Mendocino takes a little less than nine hours, which can be pretty long for some people. It’s the reason why we advise you to make stops along the way. Not only will they provide you with some breaks, but they will also make your trip more enjoyable! Scroll down to see our favorite stops.
In the meantime, make sure your car is packed with indispensable road-trip items:
- Water bottles (in a cooler if possible)
- A great road-trip playlist
- Healthy snacks and a bag of candy for passengers with a sweet tooth
- Wear comfortable clothes as you will be sitting most of the time
- A map of California just in case your phone doesn’t get service
- Phone chargers and car adaptors
- First-aid kit (just in case)
Stop 1: Santa Barbara
The first stop we recommend making on your road trip from Los Angeles to Mendocino is the charming town of Santa Barbara. It’s about two hours north of L.A., which makes it the perfect lunch spot! The Bluewater Grill Restaurant offers a great view of the marina as well as delicious seafood. Did we mention its beautiful decor? After your meal, walk to the pier across the street and grab an ice-cream cone before heading back to your car.
Stop 2: San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is an hour and a half away from Santa Barbara and offers scenic views of the ocean as well as green rolling hills overlooking the shoreline. It’s home to the best farmland in the country, so don’t hesitate to check out the farmer’s market! You can take a walk around the downtown area and discover the various local artists’ easels. If you’re a surfer, why not even catch a few waves at Pismo Beach?
Stop 3: Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea
Drive another two and a half hours before taking a break in Monterey. You may be familiar with it via the novelist John Steinbeck. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, soak up the view at Pacific Grove, discover the lovely town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and experience Big Sur’s stunning views first-hand.
Stop 4: Spend the Night in San Francisco
After stopping in Monterey, we recommend driving up to the thriving city of San Francisco to spend the night. The whole point of this road trip is to live an unforgettable experience — not to burn you out from driving. This way, you’ll wake up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to continue your great California adventure. Take some time to walk around the streets of San Francisco, like the Haight Ashbury district or the Embarcadero, then be on your way! We recommend grabbing lunch at the Barrel House Tavern in the scenic town of Sausalito. Not only do you get to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, but you can also enjoy spectacular views of the city across the bay while eating delicious food.
San Francisco to Mendocino Via Highway 1
There are plenty of marvelous stops on the drive from San Francisco to Mendocino, especially along Highway 1. Did you know it’s one of the most scenic highways in the world? The drive is 169 miles long and takes about three hours, so take your time! Marvel at a real-life shipwreck at Point Reyes, dip your toes in the water at Bodega Bay or Bowling Ball Beach, and, as you get closer to Mendocino, explore the gorgeous Point Arena Lighthouse.
Rest and Relax in Mendocino at Sea Rock Inn
Once you reach your destination, it’s time to take a break from the steering wheel and breathe in the cool and fragrant air of the Pacific Ocean. Sea Rock Inn is known as one of the best B&Bs in Mendocino as well as a premier wellness destination in the whole state. Here, you can reconnect with nature and yourself, in splendid suites and cottages surrounded by lush forests, and, of course, gorgeous ocean views. Did we mention we have an on-site spa and serve a sumptuous, homemade breakfast every morning?