The Anderson Valley is a rural area, about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Timber was the first resource in the area to be exploited. Sheep farming and ranching ensued and apples and hops were planted. Boontling, a local folk language developed. There was a brief boom in the region when roads opened up access to the forests. By the 1960s, the redwoods had been decimated and the timber industry declined. Sheep and apple farming suffered similar fates. The wine industry filled the gap and is now the leading economic driver of the region. There are also a number of micro breweries selling more than 200 different beers. Artists, musicians, writers and craftspeople have brought an aesthetic appeal to the area.
1.Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
The 47 acre botanical gardens are situated between Highway 1 and the Pacific coast, in former homestead territory. In 1893, David and Sarah Parish built their farmhouse on their allotment with the intention of raising potatoes and peas. The house has been refurbished and is now the Conservation and Education Center. Among the collections in the gardens are roses, magnolias, mushrooms, heathers and succulents. Docent-led walks take place all year round. Drought tolerant and deer resistant plants are sold at the nursery and during the spring and autumn plant sales. The Garden Shop sells gifts, books and garden accessories. The restaurant is open in summer only.
18220 North Highway, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, Phone: 707-964-4352
2.Anderson Valley Historical Museum
This museum is a half a mile from Boonville. Exhibits in four historic buildings depict the Native American heritage and culture, and the daily lives of the early settlers. The Little Red Schoolhouse was in operation from 1891 to 1979. The economic activities of the area are highlighted. These include farming, ranching, the lumber industry and fruit growing. The Anderson Valley's own language, Boontling, is explained. The shop sells books about the valley, prints, branded apparel and bags. Museum staff participate in the Boonville Beer festival, handing out mementos and free water and soda.
12340 Hwy 128, Boonville CA, Phone: 707-895-3207
3.Bates & Mailliard Farmhouse Mercantile
In the fall of 2005, the owners of The Apple Farm joined forces with Sandy Mailliard to open this general store. It was intended to be a gathering place and a showcase of local talent and resources, including repurposed materials. Luxuries for the home, jewelry and art reflect the history, traditions and craftsmanship of the area. There are also collectibles from the region and around the world. It is housed in the old Farrer building across the street from the Boonville Hotel and is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily.
14111 Hwy 128, Boonville, Phone: 707-895-3996
4.Catch-A-Canoe and Bicycles, Too
As the name suggests, this enterprise rents boats and bicycles. It was formerly known as The Mendocino Yacht and Canoe Club and is situated on the coast at the Big River Estuary. The Big River starts 55 miles to the east. The tide flows into the last eight miles, ensuring a year round depth sufficient for boating. Catch-A-Canoe also offers guided tours of the estuary in redwood outriggers, canoes and kayaks. They operate from the 7500 acre eco-resort which includes the Stanford Inn by the Sea. In the inn, there are exhibits of the river and the Native American history of the area.
1 S Big River Road, Mendocino, California 95460, Phone: 707-937-0273
5.Ford House Museum & Visitor Center
The house was built by Jerome Ford for his bride, Martha, in 1854. He was the superintendent of the first mill in the area and thought to be a founder of Mendocino. The house is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It is situated in the main street of Mendocino and also serves as the Information Center for the Mendocino Headlands State Park. A scale model of Mendocino, circa 1890, is one of the permanent exhibits. Artifacts belonging to the Pomo Indians and tools used in the logging trade on display. Seasonal displays depict the wildlife and mushrooms found in the area.
45035 Main Street, Mendocino, Phone: 707-937-5397
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The Duckhorn family have a long history as winemakers. They had success in the 1980s with Bordeaux varieties. In the 1990s, they looked for an area in which to expand their range to include Pinot Noir wines. They decided on the Anderson Valley with its cooling, coastal fogs and clay soil. They bought an 80 acre ranched, planted 12 acres of vineyard and established a small winery. The vineyard produces 7 tons of grapes annually, enough for 375 cases of wine. The Duckhorns also produce Gewürtzraminer, Pinot Gris and Brut Rosé wines. Tastings can be paired with food, or caviar, on occasion. Special events include Harvest Dinners and international wine-tasting tours.
9200 Highway 128, Philo, CA 95466, Phone: 866-367-9945
7.Hendy Woods State Park
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There are two groves of towering redwoods in the park, Big Hendy and Little Hendy. Many of the trees are over 300 foot tall and estimated to be more than 1000 years old. Five miles of trails have been laid out through the fern-filled forests and riverside meadows. The Discovery Trail is 0.6 miles long and is wheelchair accessible. The Hermit Trail passes some the makeshift shelters used by a Russian immigrant that inhabited the area for 18 years. One of his homes was in a downed redwood. Popular seasonal activities include swimming in summer and canoeing and kayaking in late winter and early spring.
18599 Philo Greenwood Rd, Philo, CA 95466, Phone: 707-895-3141
Situated on the Mendocino coast, this company specializes in sea cave tours by kayak. Tours into the caves operate twice daily, entering narrow coves and two dark chambers. The towering sandstone cliffs are spectacular. The tours are suitable for all ages and skill levels. Overnight tours include starry nights, camping for a night or more on secluded beaches, dinner and continental breakfast. The company also offers stand-up paddling excursions on the Albion River.
Van Damme Beach State Park CA-1, Little River, CA 95456, Phone: 707-813-7117
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9.Kelley House Museum
© Kelley House Museum
William Henry Kelley, his wife Elizabeth and their four children occupied this house in the latter half of the 19th century. It has an ocean view and period furniture dating back to the late 1800s. The three upstairs rooms are furnished and decorated as they were when the Kelleys lived there. The story of the Frolic shipwreck, the most significant on the west coast, is told here. Other exhibits include 'Then and Now' photographs and the history of the local Native Americans. Guided tours of the museum and the town of Mendocino are available. Alternatively, visitors can rent a tablet and do a self-guided tour.
45007 Albion Street Mendocino, CA 95460, Phone: 707-937-5791
10.Mendocino Wine Tours and Tasting
McCallum House is a boutique hotel and restaurant that offers wine tasting tours in the Anderson Valley and along the Mendocino coast. The tours typically last six hours, from 10 am to 4 pm. Guests can choose private or group tours, in an SUV or limousine. The artisanal wineries produce Gewürtzraminer, Chardonnays and Pinot Noir, for which the area is becoming renowned. The tour travels through rolling hills, beautiful winelands and giant redwood forests. At the various stops, guests have opportunities to taste the various wines and possibly meet the winemakers. A picnic lunch is enjoyed en route.
45020 Albion Street, Mendocino, California 95460, Phone: 707-937-0289
11.Mendocino Art Center
The art center is situated on the grounds of the former Preston mansion, at the top of the headlands overlooking the ocean. The mansion featured in the film, East of Eden, starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. When it burnt down in 1957, Bill Zacha acquired the property with a $50 deposit. The carriage house was converted into the art center and various outbuildings became artists' studios and classrooms. There are 12 apartments for students and instructors in residence. More than 150 workshops are conducted each year in various art forms. The gardens are beautifully landscaped and showcase the Zacha Sculpture Garden.
45200 Little Lake Street at Kasten Street, Mendocino, Phone: 707-937-4625
12.Anderson Valley Brewing Company
The AVBC was launched in Boonville, the day after Christmas in 1987. The micro brewery was one of only 20 in the country and had the capacity to brew 10 barrels. By 1996, demand had grown such that they expanded to their current premises, a 100 barrel brewery, tasting room and beer garden, on 26 acres outside the town. In 2011, they started aging beer in barrels. One of their community initiatives is the Hall of Foam. Inductees need to collect more than 50 of the 200 unique bottle caps from beer brewed in the Anderson Valley.
17700 Highway 253, Boonville, CA 95415
13.Mendocino Headlands State Park
This 7400 acre wildlife corridor links coastal and inland biomes. It was established in 1974 and the Big River wetlands were added in 2002. Gentle trails take visitors along the rugged coastline to secluded beaches. Each season has its delights. Spring brings the wild flowers, summers are cool and in fall the air is crisp and clear. In winter, whales can be seen migrating. The scenic nature attracts painters and photographers. The park is also used for swimming, fishing, surfing and hiking. For more than 20 years, the park has hosted the annual Mendocino Music Festival in July, which features big bands and the festival orchestra.
Mendocino, CA 95460, Phone: 707-937-5804
14.Navarro Point Preserve and Scenic Trail
The preserve is 56 acres of wildflowers and rare plants on steep bluffs, above the Navarro River. The coastal trail is a 1.2 mile loop which is suitable for all ages and skill levels. Because of the steepness of the cliffs, it is advised that trail users stay on the path at all times. Dogs are allowed on leads. There are several vantage points for whale watching. Orcas, Humpback and Minke whales have been spotted, as well as dolphins, porpoises, seals and deer. The preserve is popular with birdwatchers. A driftwood bench has been constructed in memory of Deborak Bove, a former California Coastal Commissioner.
15.Navarro River Swimming Hole
On the western side of the charming old single-span arched Philo-Greenwood bridge, in Hendy Woods State Park, is one of the area's best swimming holes. The hole is accessible from the road at marker 3.66 on the Navarro River. Swimming conditions are dependent on recent rains and are best in a wet year.
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16.Navarro Vineyards & Winery
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Despite being small, this winery has received several accolades and awards. It was established in 1974 and produces 21 different wines in small batches, most of which are sold at the winery. The vineyard has its seasonal attractions with new life on the vines in spring, colorful beneficial insects in summer and a multi-colored patchwork of foliage in fall. The winery has a green policy which uses a chicken tractor and sheep to fertilize the land and eliminate pests and weeds. There are cheese and meats for sale in the deli but visitors are welcome to bring their own refreshments to enjoy on site.
5601 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466, Phone: 800-537-9463
© Pennyroyal Farm
This 100 acre former hay field, named after a wild mint, has been transformed into a winery and creamery. The creamery processes cheeses daily from the milk of the resident sheep and goats. Windows afford visitors a view into the milking parlor and creamery. Names from the local language, Boontling, have been chosen for the cheeses which can be bought at the shop. At the farmstead, vegetables are grown according to organic and holistic farming practices. The vegetables are used for Wine and Food pairing evenings and 'grab and go' snacks. There are 23 acres of vineyards and a tasting room on the farm.
14930 Highway 128, Boonville, Ca 95415, Phone: 707-895-2410
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18.Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
The light station is situated on a headland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was established in 1909 when increased shipping traffic meant regular shipwrecks. The station consists of the lighthouse and attached fog signal building, parts of which have been converted into a museum and gift shop. The first assistant keeper's house is a museum depicting life at the station in the 1930s. The former blacksmith and carpentry work space houses a 240 gallon aquarium stocked with local sea life. The light keeper's cottage and three other dwellings are available as overnight accommodation. The park is open all year round.
12301 N. Highway 1, Box 1, Mendocino CA 95460, Phone: 707-937-6122
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19.Russian Gulch State Park
This state park is two miles north of Mendocino. Features of the park include a three mile long leafy canyon, more than a mile of ocean shore, a rocky coastline, windswept headlands and pristine beaches. The climate is temperate most of the year but changeable. Mornings could be misty, summer brings fog at any time and rain clouds are common in winter. The trail along the coast to the collapsed sea cave takes approximately an hour. Inland, the trail to the 36 foot waterfall takes half a day. It would take a full day to see the canyon and the headlands. Some trails are suitable for biking.
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The Italianate complex at the Madrones, near Philo, was originally a design center and creative think tank. The cloistered rural homestead, with its courtyards, arcades and kitchen garden, has received awards for architectural design. There are three distinctly different tasting rooms on the property, representing Drew, Smith-Story and Long Meadow Ranch wineries. The shop sells antiques, stationery, curios and gift items. There are a range of options for overnight accommodation at the Madrones, from family suites to cabins among the redwoods. Guests need to stay for a minimum of two nights. A schedule of garden tours and artisan workshops is advertised locally.
9000 Highway 128, Philo, CA 95466, Phone: 707-895-2955
21.The Temple of Kwan Tai
The first Chinese immigrants landed in the area in the 1850s. By 1860, there 500-700 resident Chinese in Mondocino. Lee Sing John purchased land in 1871 and established the temple which is dedicated to the Chinese god of war. Four generations of his family have preserved it since then. The small temple was built on a south facing hill above Albion Street. The redwood used in its construction cost $12. It remained intact until 2001 when it was completely refurbished. It was declared a California Registered Historic Landmark in 1979. The temple is open to the public and there are annual fundraisers on the Chinese New Year.
45160 Albion Street, Mendocino
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22.Van Damme State Park
The Van Damme State Park is three miles south of Mendocino on Highway 1. It offers year round camping, hiking, biking and angling. It is one of the richest parks in the area, in terms of historical resources connected with the lumber industry. Several stunted trees inhabit the pygmy forest. A quarter mile on a boardwalk to this part of the fern-filled woodlands is accessible for wheelchairs and takes approximately an hour to complete. A half-day excursion starting at the pygmy forest, encompasses the Fern Canyon Trail and the Old Logging Road Trail. Camping is available all year round. Nine 'primitive' campsites lie deep in the redwood forest.
8001 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456, Phone: 707-937-5804
23.Witching Stick Wines
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The land belonging to Van and Anne Williamson is a coastal ridge near Philo, 1200 feet above sea level. The fertile soil, good drainage and height above the mist have combined to create ideal conditions for producing their Zinfandel estate grapes. This cultivar is uncommon in the Anderson Valley area. The wine is matured into several flavors – a rich berry, continental classic and late harvest. The small, niche winery also produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and port wines. They market their wines through special events such as Winemakers' Dinners, barrel tasting and a multi-tiered wine club membership.
8627 CA-128, Philo, CA 95466, Phone: 707-895-3454
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23 Best Things to Do in Anderson Valley, CA
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Photo: Melastmohican/stock.adobe.com
- Anderson Valley Historical Museum, Photo: breakingthewalls/stock.adobe.com
- Bates & Mailliard Farmhouse Mercantile, Photo: mnimage/stock.adobe.com
- Catch-A-Canoe and Bicycles, Too, Photo: yossarian6/stock.adobe.com
- Ford House Museum & Visitor Center, Photo: sergign/stock.adobe.com
- Goldeneye Winery, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Hendy Woods State Park, Photo: Drobot Dean/stock.adobe.com
- Kayak Mendocino, Photo: yossarian6/stock.adobe.com
- Kelley House Museum, Photo: Kelley House Museum
- Mendocino Wine Tours and Tasting, Photo: wolf1984/stock.adobe.com
- Mendocino Art Center, Photo: zinkevych/stock.adobe.com
- Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Photo: lordn/stock.adobe.com
- Mendocino Headlands State Park, Photo: Melastmohican/stock.adobe.com
- Navarro Point Preserve and Scenic Trail, Photo: EdNurg/stock.adobe.com
- Navarro River Swimming Hole, Photo: AlivePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Navarro Vineyards & Winery, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- Pennyroyal Farm, Photo: Pennyroyal Farm
- Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, Photo: lucky-photo/stock.adobe.com
- Russian Gulch State Park, Photo: Nicholas/stock.adobe.com
- The Madrones, Photo: Allen.G/stock.adobe.com
- The Temple of Kwan Tai, Photo: gracethang/stock.adobe.com
- Van Damme State Park, Photo: DreamArtist/stock.adobe.com
- Witching Stick Wines, Photo: Maria Kasimova/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Thomas Barrat/stock.adobe.com