Everyone loves Mendocino County — there’s fun for the entire family!
Not just a couples’ destination, Mendocino County has a multitude of activities and accommodations for the entire family, including your four-footed friends!
This is just the place to nix the screen time and get the family outside for hikes, bike rides, train rides, kayaking, and beach adventures. No need to leave the grandparents behind: bring everyone! And that means your pets too. The family dog is welcome to accompany you on all sorts of adventures (and into many businesses) in the county.
Here’s a quick look at top family destinations and activities in Mendocino County.
Take a trip on the world famous Skunk Train, which departs from both Fort Bragg and Willits, and meanders through majestic redwood forests. During the holidays, parents and little ones will love the Christmas Skunk Train ride, featuring music, hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit with Santa.
Explore the rivers and oceans with a kayak trip through the sea caves at Van Damme State Park, bring Fido along on for a ride up Big River on one of Catch-A-Canoe’s outrigger canoes, or drift up the gentle Noyo River for wildlife viewing.
Hit the trails at the Point Arena-Stornetta National Monument with its dramatic geology and coastline. While you’re on the south coast, Gualala Point County Park has a variety of terrains ranging from beaches to coastal prairies and forests. Travel to the Pygmy Forest across five marine terraces and 500,000 years at Jug Handle State Natural Reserve or hike the Fern Canyon trail at Van Damme State Park. Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve has a criss-cross of trails set among the giant redwoods. Or go tide-pooling and bird watching at Spring Ranch Preserve.
Have a whale of time watching the harbor seals and sea lions frolic in Noyo Harbor or spy passing whales from any clifftop location—spring and fall bring the gray whale migrations!
Go fish at Lake Mendocino or launch a whale or crabbing excursion from Noyo Harbor.
Everyone, including Fido, will enjoy the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, a floral wonderland in any season. Saddle up at Ricochet Ridge Ranch and take a guided horseback ride on the beach and through the forest trails.
Mesmerizing Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is one of the most unusual beaches on the West Coast, if not the world. This former city dumpsite was transformed by crashing waves into a sea glass-covered wonderland. All the beaches are now accessible via a paved trail along the bluffs. Just head to Elm Street in Fort Bragg and take a stroll!
For over a decade, B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena has been actively committed to the breeding and preservation of endangered African hoof stock. Today, children and parents alike can watch zebra, giraffe, and antelope freely roam in a natural environment.
At Hopland’s Solar Living Institute, generate some electricity, get hands on with the interactive exhibits and enjoy a picnic by the pond.
Try out the family camping weekends at the amazing Camp Navarro deep in the heart of the redwoods in Anderson Valley. Camping weekends are Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day – three days and two nights having fun, playing games, and singing around the campfire. Book early… these dates sell out fast!
Putter around the course at Emerald Dolphin Mini Golf or throw a round of disc golf at courses throughout the county. Bowl everyone over at Yokayo Bowling Center in Ukiah, a family favorite.
The home of “Mystery, Fun, and Family Entertainment,” Confusion Hill features the world-famous Gravity House, Redwood Shoe House, the world’s largest free standing redwood chainsaw carving, and a unique miniature Mountain Train Ride. On your way, take a detour through the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree.
Mendocino County is a family shopping paradise. Village Toy Store in Mendocino specializes in old-fashioned toys such as wooden blocks, Raggedy Ann Dolls, Lincoln Logs, and the largest inventory of kites north of San Francisco. For the readers in the family, Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books in Mendocino and Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah offer the chance to unplug in comfortable silence while turning the pages of a favored book. Out of this World in Mendocino features binoculars, telescopes, science kits, and gadgets for the curious and adventurous to take on their travels.
Other family-friendly activities include trying unique, Mendocino-inspired flavors of ice cream at Cowlick’s in Fort Bragg or Frankie’s in Mendocino.
JULY: Enjoy the wacky July 4 parade in Mendocino; fireworks and fun at Todd Point Park in Fort Bragg, and hit rodeo central at Willits Frontier Days.
AUGUST: Experience all the fun of the fair with rides, carnival games, and sideshows at the Redwood Empire Fair in Ukiah. Lumberjacks, an ugly dog contest, firemen’s water fight and more are featured at the annual Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg!
SEPTEMBER: The Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show in Boonville is a fun country fair with animals, rides, music and more.
OCTOBER: Smashing Pumpkins…? Yes, at Ukiah’s PumpkinFest with its scarecrow contest, pumpkin smashing, booths and a parade.
DECEMBER: The Festival of Lights in Fort Bragg brings a winter wonderland of lights throughout the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.