With so much to see and do in Mendocino County, from touring remote vineyards to hiking through redwood forests, visitors sometimes overlook the simple joy of slowing down and hanging out. Why spend hours driving around the county when you can leave the car at the hotel and find everything you could want within strolling distance? Finding that bliss is easy in the idyllic coastal town of Mendocino.
If you haven’t visited recently, you’re in for a refreshing surprise. Not to worry—Mendocino’s vibe is as laidback as ever and old-favorite shops and restaurants remain, but there’s something different in the air. New shops, cafés, and inns have opened during the last few years and the town is now attracting a younger—dare we say hipper?—demographic. The result is a more vibrant Mendocino with something for everyone. To help you plan the perfect winter getaway, here are our picks for the best “next-generation” places to stay, eat, drink and shop.
Newly opened Nicholson House combines French Victorian and Art Deco design with clean lines and sleek, contemporary touches. Peter and Melissa Lopez, the owners of Café Beaujolais next door, purchased the 1880s family home in 2020 and transformed it into a stylish inn that includes four rooms in the main house and three luxurious stand-alone suites. To help guests truly relax and enjoy the Mendo vibe, turntables and groovy jazz records replace in-room TVs. If you’re up for a bit of a splurge, opt for a suite; each includes an outdoor sitting area, propane fireplace, and a gorgeous spa bathroom with heated floors. Details: 951 Ukiah Street, 707-937-0312, nicholsonhouse.com
The Waiting Room
True to its name, this is the waiting lounge for the adjacent and perpetually popular Café Beaujolais. Open from 7 a.m., The Waiting Room is also a cozy spot to enjoy morning coffee and delicious housemade pastries—we especially love the savory options—before heading off for the day’s adventures. In the afternoon or evening, grab a seat in a comfy armchair near the fireplace and play board games while sipping a local craft beer on draft or a glass of Mendocino County wine. Happy hour happens daily from 3 to 5 p.m. Details: 961 Ukiah Street, 707.937.5614, cafebeaujolais.com/waiting-room
Fog Eater Café and Fog Bottle Shop
This colorful women-owned café serves vegetarian California cuisine with a southern accent. On the plate, that translates to lip-smacking housemade pimento cheese, biscuit sliders stuffed with fried green tomatoes, pickled vegetables, hushpuppies, and wild chanterelle mushroom risotto—all vibrant and full of flavor. Fittingly, the Fog Eater drinks list is anything but typical, focusing on natural wines and low-alcohol cocktails. You’ll find many of the restaurant’s wine selections for sale at the Fog Bottle Shop retail annex, along with housemade snacks and picnic supplies. Details: 45104 Main Street, 707-397-1806, fogeatercafe.com
Loot & Lore
Everyone can use a little more magic in their lives, and Loot & Lore is just the place to get it. The shop, owned and run by jewelry designer and self-described witch Cyn Levesque, is set inside a picturesque water tower overlooking the ocean. Loot & Lore specializes in occult items such as “enchanted” jewelry, books, candles, tarot supplies and anything else the modern witch could want. For a peek into the future, book a tarot, oracle, or astrology reading. Details: 611 Albion Street, 707-397-1899, lootandlore.love
The Study Club
Globe-trotting boutique owner Erin Keller has a keen eye for beautiful things, so you’re sure to find something gorgeous at The Study Club. The upscale corner shop offers an aspirational selection of contemporary women’s clothing in soft, neutral tones and luxe fabrics, as well as artisan housewares, jewelry and accessories. Details: 10470 Lansing Street, 707-937-1777, thestudyclubmendocino.com
Meyer Family Cellars
Matt Meyer, the son of legendary Silver Oak winery founder Justin Meyer, is the winemaker and owner behind Meyer Family Cellars. The winery’s Mendocino tasting room is an offshoot of the main winery in nearby Yorkville Highlands. In downtown Mendocino, you’ll find a sleek, modern space and wine garden, offering tastes of Meyer’s Mendocino County and Napa Valley wines, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and a port-style dessert wine. Details: 45156 Main Street, 707-397-1406, meyerfamilycellars.com
Nahara Healing Arts
A visit to Mendocino should always include a little self care. After hiking around Mendocino Headlands State Park, beachcombing or just tooling around town, some spa love is definitely in order. Head to Nahara Healing Arts for organic spa treatments, massage, facials, body scrubs, wraps and all-around bliss. The spa also hosts weekday yoga and mat pilates classes in its onsite wellness studio. Details: 10481 Lansing Street, 707-357-6879, naharahealingarts.com