Mendocino: A great last-minute weekend getaway with your dog

Ace Vu
4 min readOct 26, 2019
Picture of me and Pixel on the flower field next to the Mendocino coast

As some of you know I’m on my years-long sabbatical trip, travelling around the world. I told myself before I publish any official post about my trip, I have to finish this article which has been long overdue. I’ll keep this short and sweet.

As always, I’m not sponsored or commissioned by any of the places I mentioned. You can trust that all information is purely from my experience.


If you’re looking for a 1 or 2-night weekend getaway with your dog (or kids) around the Bay Area, consider Mendocino.

Mendocino is a cute little town along the coast, located about 3 hours north of San Francisco. You can do many fun activities, or simply relax. I created a short 1 min video to give you a brief idea of the weekend I had with my dog, Pixel.

Video of different clips I recorded during our weekend trip, showing the hotel, beaches, downtown, and the lake.


There are 2 places that allow dogs in Mendocino, Standford Inn and Little River Inn. They both are very nice. We chose to stay at Little River Inn because it has a better ocean view and is more affordable for a last-minute booking than Standford Inn. Standford Inn has its own farm and you will get to see more green. Thus, where you choose to stay totally depends on your preference.

We literally booked this at 10 am on the same day and started driving at 12 pm. Little River Inn is actually in Little River city, a less than 5 minutes drive to Mendocino downtown.

Picture 1: Pixel and I are sitting in our hotel’s patio with the ocean view. Picture 2: Pixel and I are walking at the beach nearby before sunset

You can also camp at Van Damme State Park which is located across the beach. You can access the beach by just crossing the street from the camp. I think I will do this next time.


Most places in Mendocino close very early. Make sure you have a reservation. For dinner, we were lucky enough to dine at Wild Fish located right across from Little River Inn. It is a very cozy little place. They switch their menu very often and use local fresh catch. It was definitely a treasure find.

Picture 1 shows my dinner of grilled fish, smoked lamp and some appetizers. Picture 2 shows my desserts of Crème brûlée with cookies and mango ice cream

For brunch, check out Mendocino downtown. There are many cute boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants. Our favorite brunch and coffee spot is Good Life Cafe & Bakery. They have vegan, gluten-free, fresh juice, organic options. All the good stuff.


Mendocino coast is a good place to just relax, enjoy the ocean breeze, escape from the busy city life. There are a few things you can do and take things slowly at the same time.

Picture of me walking with Pixel down the stairway to the beach with green grass and flowers on the sides.

1. Explore downtown and the coast

Mendocino downtown has lots of interesting places you can check out, from garden shops to the wildflower field down the ocean outlook.

Picture 1: Pixel and I are walking in the middle of the road with the ocean behind us. Picture 2: Storefront of Fog Eater Cafe

2. Enjoy the beaches

Spend an hour or two with your companion friend at the beach. Your dog will love it.

3. Catch a canoe

This is a must-do activity. We rented it a canoe at Catch A Canoe and Bicycle Too located right next to Standford Inn. Canoeing is a family-friendly activity. You will get to explore the beautiful river with harbor seals, river otters, and birds along the way. Don’t miss this. It’s best to call and make a reservation beforehand. During peak season from May till November, this can get crowded.

Picture of me on a canoe with Pixel at a beautiful lake.
Pictures of Pixel on the canoe letting the wind blowing her ears.

4. Drive to Glass Beach

It’s about a 15-minutes drive from downtown Mendocino. You will find many colorful broken rounded glass pieces along the beach. It’s a great photo spot. It was cold when we got there so we didn’t want to go down. Plus we didn’t want to be late for the canoe reservation.

If you need to get gas, this is a place to get it since gas in Little River can be very expensive. I’m talking about $6 — $8 a gallon.

Breathe the fresh air and relax

Pixel and I hope you find these tips useful. Feel free to comment if you have other suggestions.



Ace Vu

Storyteller, UX Designer, Accessibility Advocate, and World’s Beauty Admirer