If there’s one pattern you might notice emerging in my posts is that I like my dog, wine, and the ocean. It’s even better when I can combine all three (no, not the dog drinking wine by the ocean, but I wouldn’t put it past her).
So Mendocino County has become a regular destination for my birthdays in the past few years as it offers not only the trifecta above, but also peace and solitude–something sorely lacking in the bustling Bay Area. And there are a number of fido-friendly hotels, wineries, and restaurants–meaning no guilt for leaving the mutt at home, nor a need to budget in the cost for dog boarding.
If you’ve been, you know how gorgeous it is, but if you’ve never been, I highly recommended it. Just a few hours from San Francisco by car, it’s a great place for wine tasting, especially in the Anderson Valley (think Sonoma without the crowds and tasting fees), hiking and camping in parks like Van Damme State Park (no, not named after “The Muscles from Brussels”, but instead the son of Belgian settlers who came to the area in the 1800s), kayaking or paddle-boarding on the Big River or whale-watching from MacKerricher State Park. Also, it doesn’t really matter what time of year you visit–if the weather is bad, you can always snuggle inside by a cozy fire.
Lastly, I want to call out the brand new Wild Fish restaurant in Little River. This place is but a week old and the menu short, but choices like duck, sole and gumbo should please most. In addition, the Albion River Inn offers free happy hour appetizers along with the purchase of one of their wine and well drink specials. It’s a great place to nosh and watch the sunset before dinner. Otherwise, the old fashioned beach picnic is always a good option.