Stretching south of the town of
Mendocino, the Mendocino South Coast offers long wild
beaches, rivers winding to the sea. Think forests, and
wonderful vistas. Manchester State Beach lies between the
sleepy village of Manchester and Elk, an old mill town
with several significant Victorian buildings. This is
prime inn country.
Albion, the village at the mouth of
the Albion River, was founded in 1853 around another
Elk -- originally called Greenwood
-- sits 15 miles south of the town of Mendocino, with
miles of pristine ocean beach.
The village of Little River is a
mid-19th century vacation town with several fine parks
and unique inns. Little River's cove is a good spot for
diving and abalone gathering.
The town of Gualala -- pronounced
Wah-lah-lah, a Spanish version of the Pomo Indian word
Walali "meeting of the waters" -- is north of the county
line on the north shore of the Gualala River. It was a
redwood lumber town until the 1960s. The art center
stages its annual Art in the Redwoods and Summer Fair --
held in mid-August. Trails lead to the riverside beaches,
popular with steelhead anglers.
Van Damme State Park is a wonderful
natural area, with its 1,825 acres set on both sides of
the river -- around Fern Canyon. The canyon trail is a
popular walk, a five-mile round trip which crosses the
river eight times leading to several walk-in natural
campsites and a pygmy cypress forest.
Some of the finest small inns in the
country have sprung up in this natural setting. No modern
towns impede the appreciation of the natural beauty of
the Mendocino coast and the little towns there are
charmingly picturesque and entirely in keeping with the
rest of the landscape.
The south section is dominated by the
rivers that flow to the sea: Gualala, Garcia, Navarro,
Albion and Big. Each of these rivers has recreation
facilities at its mouth and for several miles inland.
Some of the best lodging in the northwest can be found in
Elk Cove Inn
Located 15 miles south of Mendocino, on a bluff
overlooking a mile of pristine ocean beach, the inn
offers six rooms in an 1883 Victorian mansion, plus four
cottage units on the bluff, and four new luxurious
oceanfront spa suites. The inn has a bar, serving beer
(including local microbrews), wine, and cocktails,
including 25 martinis.
Harbor House is one of the heritage buildings,
built in 1916 as a guest lodge for the Goodyear Redwood
Lumber Co. There are ten standard rooms plus four
cottages, with dinner and breakfast served.
Sandpiper House Inn was also built in 1916 on a
superb oceanfront site. Breakfast, afternoon tea and
evening cheer are served.
Greenwood Pier Inn has great service and
excellent food. The Inn has 11 rooms in cottages.
Albion River Inn has a magnificent location on
a bluff overlooking the sea, with lodge rooms and
cottages. Their dining room is renowned and reservations
are advised. Fensalden Inn on Navarro Ridge Rd. is
another atmospheric B & B with ocean views and
In Little River
The traditional place to stay is the Little River
Inn, almost 150 years old, with a fine dining room
and cozy accommodations in the lodge, annex and cottages.
Rates are higher than other lodges in the area but this
is a deluxe facility with an xcellent dining room.
The SeaFoam Lodge is a long-time Little River
resort. It's very pet friendly and traveling owners of
dogs will enjoy the spacious grounds and so will their
pets. A light continental breakfast is delivered to the
rooms. The muffins are highly praised by former visitors.
This inn is considerably less expensive than the Little
The Gualala Hotel is an old landmark on Highway 1 with
18 rooms, antique beds and an Italian restaurant with bar
and wine shop on the main floor.
The Gualala Country Inn has ocean views, fireplaces
At Point Arena
The Point Arena Lighthouse marks the most
westerly point in the lower 48 states. The town of Point
Arena is quiet and often shrouded in fog. It was a
lumbering and fishing town which now focuses on welcoming
tourists. Lodging in Pt. Arena includes Coast Guard
House (an historic life-saving station converted into
a B&B home, with six rooms and rental homes on the
site of the Point Arena Lighthouse.
Manchester State Beach has 650 acres of dunes,
meadows and trails. There's a KOA south of the park
Gualala River Park is an private RV park and
campground, with hookups, showers, propane and laundry,
south of town and east for 1 mile.
For information on the major Mendocino
county towns, go to Mendocino,
Fort Bragg, and