Mendocino, a little quaint town in the foggy hills north of San Francisco is unlike any other town in California. I have visited several towns in California having lived here for over twelve years, but Mendocino was unique. The gushing water, foggy mistiness amidst the very beautiful hills, Mendocino seemed like a quaint, untarnished town away from the hustle and bustle that defines California.

We decided to visit Mendocino for a weekend. We rarely go away for the weekend, and this was perhaps the second time we drove somewhere for the weekend. On a warm August afternoon, we embarked on our 3 hr and 30 min drive to Mendocino, California. Anyone who has drove in California knows Friday traffic can be a complete nightmare. There was some traffic, but once we passed San Francisco, the traffic God’s were good to us.  We reached the windy roads to Mendocino with two lanes, one up the hill and the other downhill and we knew this journey was going to be forever. It took us over 6 hrs to reach Mendocino, and the higher we got on the hills the more beautiful the scenery got.

We reached Sea Rock Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast overlooking the water. They have individual villas and regular hotel rooms. We had a villa waiting for us when we got there. I grew up in homes with porches back in India, and the picture of the villa online showed a porch with chairs. I was sold! It was my weekend to experience the nostalgia of my childhood again, even if it was in California and not India. The instant we got out of our car, we knew Mendocino was special. I instantly fell in love with Mendocino.

The ladies at Sea Rock were beyond hospitable. They made us comfortable, and ensured we knew the restaurants nearby for food. We were famished and really needed food after hours of driving. We went to Patterson’s Pub, a restaurant close to our hotel. We had to wait for a while before we got seated. I was famished and regular fries felt like the greatest fries ever!

Our next day began with an organic breakfast at Sea Rock Inn. We decided to sit out for breakfast with mist falling on us, and the water gushing in the background. Nature played perfect hosts as we enjoyed our breakfast in the tranquility. We decided to go to the Mendocino Botanical gardens for our first stop. The gardens were big and beautiful. There were flowers and plants everywhere. I am not a big plant person, so the gardens seemed like every other I had visited before but it is still a good place to visit.

Our next stop was the famous glass beach, before which we decided to stop for our lunch at Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg was town with numerous shops and restaurants. Glass beach had tons of sea glass created from the garbage that was dumped in the nearby coastline years ago. We saw people trying to pick glass, and in some areas there were lots of glass. We were planning to pick some as well, and bum out on the beach. We might have walked the beach too had it not started pouring. We decided to head back to our hotel for cover from the rain. On our way back, we saw the Skunk train, which was another one of the Mendocino must do’s. We were late for the Skunk train on that specific day and we were returning back the next day. So Skunk train is on my agenda for the next Mendocino weekend. We ended our night with French cuisine and it was fabulous. The escargot (snails) was amazing, and it was perfect end to a great weekend.

We were leaving the next morning. We soaked in the natural beauty around as we ate our breakfast. After checking out, we walked the downtown area where there were numerous shops. We walked around planning not to shop until we saw a chocolate shop. Mendocino went up on my favorite place list at that point. They had real Belgian chocolates, and my “no shopping” pact went out the window. I went overboard and bought lots of chocolates. They were planning to have a chocolate festival in November, and I promised to be back.

The ride up the mountains to Mendocino was tedious for someone like me who has battled motion sickness my entire life. Mendocino was everything I did not expect it to be. I thought it was going to be like the other Californian towns but was sweetly surprised. The chill air, fog, the gushing waters- Mendocino had my heart from the instant I got there. Mendocino is California’s little secret, and my favorite spot in California.

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