California North Coast & The Stanford Inn

While the most iconic California road trip is the drive between San Francisco and LA, we had always been curious to explore the Pacific Coast Highway and beyond, north of San Francisco. Our cousin getting married in Napa Valley presented us with the perfect opportunity to extend a trip out to California, to do some exploring.

Our trip up the coast was from San Francisco to the Stanford Inn in Mendocino. We cranked through the ride in about 6 hours total. This included enough time to stop off at a bunch of places to enjoy the the scenic views, take pictures, and soak in the surroundings. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time for extended hikes or stop off points.

The fun begins with a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, you’ll want to hop onto the start of scenic highway 1 towards Stinson Beach. Once you reach the cost, the drive and the views are breathtaking.  Some of the most popular stopping points are the Point Reyes National Sea Shore, Bodega Bay, and Timber Cover. The biggest difference between this drive and the drive south from SF was that it felt significantly more remote and less touristy, but an equally impressive landscape.

After a packed day of sightseeing we reached our destination by sunset, The Stanford Inn. It was definitely one of the most unique places we’ve stayed at. Nestled in the foothills of the ocean along the Mendocino coast, the hotel delivers a completely eco-conscious experience, and amplifies the natural beauty of the landscape. We stayed in one of the suite rooms that was equipped with a fireplace, living room area, spacious bedroom/bathroom, and a deck with stunning views.

As impressive as the guest room was, the property itself was amazing. Speaking of eco-friendly, the Stanford cooks up organic plant-based meals at their Ravens restaurant, and most of the ingredients come from their gardens on site. Taking a stroll through the gardens was one of our favorite parts of the farm-to-table experience. In addition to the food and stay, the Stanford caters to a variety of activities.  The Catch a Canoe andBicycles Too! center features Redwood outrigger canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards, where guests can explore the Big River Estuary abutting the property. If you’re looking for more relaxation, be sure to check out their wellness center & spa.

From Mendocino, we headed south back towards Napa Valley. An alternative route to highway 1 is 128 which navigates inland through Navarro River Redwoods State Park. This was a majestic drive through 11 miles of windy redwood forest. At the end of the forest you end up in Anderson Valley, which is a famed wine region more off the beaten path than Napa Valley. We had just enough time to stop at Navarro Winery. The perfect weather, fall foliage on the vines, and delicious wine was the perfect capper to our Northern CA road trip.  

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