If a road trip along California’s famous Highway 1 isn’t on your bucket list, it will be by the end of this blog. Highway 1 is the most beloved drive on the Golden Coast, and for good reason; it features all of the beautiful landscapes in our state! On your journey, discover the culture and history of San Francisco, taste delicious wines in Napa Valley, and reconnect with nature in our lovely town of Mendocino. Let the rolling fog from the cliffs and the towering redwood forests wash away your stress on the adventure of a lifetime! Read on to learn more about this fabulous Northern California road trip and start planning today. Then, download our free Vacation Guide to get more recommendations for the Mendocino area!
Discover 3 Sides of Our State On Your Northern California Road Trip
Day Trips In the City: San Francisco
The best place to start your adventure in Northern California is the city of San Francisco. Fly into the San Francisco International Airport and take a couple of days to explore the city. Ride the cable car system, picnic at Dolores Park, stroll from China Town to the iconic City Lights Bookstore, and stop at the equally famous Vesuvio Cafe next door to grab a beer. Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and poets like Allan Ginsberg used to frequent this bar back in the 1960s.
For lunch, head over to Pier 39 and taste the delicious clam chowder at Chowders. You may even spot some sea lions by the pier! You can also discover the hippie area of Haight Ashbury while in San Francisco. Taste some of the best crepes in town at Crepes On Cole, walk by The Grateful Dead house (710 Ashbury Street), and shop at the eclectic stores along Haight Street.
Before you drive up to Napa, stop for a scenic dinner in the quaint coastal town of Sausalito. The Barrel House Tavern offers a gorgeous view of the entire city of San Francisco!
Day Trips In the Country: Napa
Leave the San Francisco Bay Area and head toward Napa Valley. It’s here that you’ll find some of the most prestigious wines in the world, as well as lush landscapes reminiscent of Scotland. Napa is a quaint little town that has plenty of restaurants and wineries to explore. Stop by the Oxbow Public Market to shop fresh and unique products, and grab a burger next door at Gott’s Roadside. (They serve wine with your meal!) For the rest of the day, tour famous wineries as you drive along Napa’s scenic countryside. The Castillo di Amorosa is the most impressive of all, with its large castle and medieval, European atmosphere.
Day Trips Along the Ocean: Mendocino
Mendocino is the perfect place to meander through nature. It offers a wide variety of activities to enjoy during your stay. Here are some nearby day trip you can easily make from Sea Rock Inn during your visit.
An adventure in the California Redwood Forest is a must during your visit. Lace up your hiking shoes and go for a soothing walk through the majestic trees. They are the most iconic landmarks of a Northern California road trip and make for the perfect Instagram picture! The Avenue of Giants, for example, is a 2-hour drive from Mendocino, but it’s oh-so worth it. There are more than 51,000 acres of forest to explore, so we highly suggest you map out your visit beforehand. Humboldt Redwoods State Park is one of the most popular spots for hiking through the Redwoods. There are many trails to choose from and they are listed in order from easy to difficult. Some even go over 13 miles!
Montgomery Woods State Reserve
Do you want to keep exploring the gorgeous nature surrounding Mendocino? Then head over to the Montgomery Woods State Reserve. Take a closer look at the different species of Redwood trees, including the Sierra Redwood, which is also called “Big Tree”. This one doesn’t tend to grow as tall as some others, but it’s definitely the biggest. The Coast Redwood, on the other hand, is taller and only grows in a very specific area on the coast of California and into Oregon. We recommend bringing a tree guide with you! The hiking trail is an easy 3-mile loop, so no need to be an experienced hiker!
Big River Estuary
Another fun way to experience Mendocino’s natural wonders is to get out on the water! We know an exquisite experience you cannot miss during your stay at Sea Rock Inn, and it all starts at Catch a Canoe and Bicycle, Too! This local company offers great outings on the Big River Estuary. You can either go for a ride on one of their Polynesian Redwood outriggers or simply rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard. You’ll love gliding on the water, listening to the birds singing and spotting the rich wildlife! Be on the lookout for the river otters—they’re adorable!
Hit the Best Spots Along the Coast
If you’d rather stay along the coast and soak in gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, Mendocino is your perfect basecamp. After enjoying our delicious, homemade breakfast, hop in your car and follow our coastal itinerary. Awaken your body and spirit at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, go on a journey at Headland State Park, see the mesmerizing Glass Beach, and explore some sea caves!
Once you emerge from the forest, don’t miss the chance to explore the splendid dark cliffs that dot the mesmerizing shoreline. Take a moment to rejoice in the peaceful Pacific Ocean views and listen closely to the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the sand. It’s the perfect outing if you seek to reflect and unwind from your stressful routine. Some of our favorite Mendocino beaches include Ten Mile Beach and Bowling Ball Beach.
Enjoy a Scenic Stay in Mendocino’s Best B&B
Sea Rock Inn is the perfect place to end your Northern California road trip and relax for a few days. As soon as you arrive at our inn, you’ll experience the magic of the coast with jaw-dropping views from our lush gardens and balconies.
Whether you prefer to stay in one of our suites or cottages, you’ll leave Sea Rock Inn feeling as refreshed as ever. Relax with a glass of wine in Cottage 4 and reminisce about your exciting day. Then, take a warm shower and slip into a comfortable robe by the fireplace! You’ll love falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing in the distance. When you wake up in the morning, join us in the dining room where a delicious, homemade breakfast awaits you. We have a feeling you’ll love our pastries and jams.