Taking a cue from Mother Nature, Mendocino County bursts into a riot of color and life in springtime. This is the place where good times are always ahead so plan your road trip and visit Mendocino County!
Mendo Beer Trail
Come and take a road trip with us… Brews are top of the pops in Mendocino County! On top of our verdant valleys, towering trees and incomparable coastline, the county is endowed with craft beers of extraordinary variety and quality. We like it so much that we created a handy Beer Trail Map to the county so you can plan your visit around sampling some really great suds. Come and take a road trip with us…
We couldn’t have named it better! Its moniker comes from the town’s original mission — growing and drying hops to flavor beer. That endeavor ended when a disease wiped out the plants in the 1950s but the beer lives on! Visit an oast house (hop kiln), which now houses Milano Winery and find wild hops growing in unexpected places around town. Belly up to the bar at Hopland Tap for an epic pint pulled by owner Ron Lindenbusch whose pedigree includes a long stint at Lagunitas Brewing Company. The building was home to the storied suds, Red Tail Ale, and Mendocino Brewing Company, the first brewpub to open in California following prohibition. At Stock Farm Hopland (Campovida), order up a killer pizza and accompanying pint to enjoy around the fire pit under a moonlit sky.
Hike up Highway 101…
to Ukiah Brewing Company, the first organic brewery in the US, where Brewmaster Scott Jones keeps a watchful eye on the lively list of ales and lagers that changes with the seasons and menu selections. Try a flight to figure out your favorite and, as they say at the brewery, “Make Beer, Not War”! Just one block over, Pint Night is every other Thursday at Cultivo, home of delicious wood-fired pizzas and an impressive line-up of beers on tap. This place gets packed so make a reservation, meet the brewmasters, try the ales, and keep the logoed glass. Willits has a new kid in town at Northspur Brewing Company on downtown’s Main Street. Founder Jakob Foley thought opening up a brewery sounded like a lot of fun… so he did. Stop in for a pint of IPA or a seasonal ale on your way through the county. A long-time fixture in Willits is Shanachie Pub where the conversation, music and beer flow equally freely! Go for the Wednesday mic night but stay for the beer and you’ll meet plenty of interesting locals! One of the last outposts of northern Mendocino County is the community of Laytonville, known for its annual Kate Wolf Festival that brings music and music-lovers together every summer. It’s also renowned for the Big Chief and Draft Punk po’boy sandwich shop and all-things-fermented brewhouse. If it can be fermented, it’s on the menu… beer, kombucha, cider and much more! It’s well worth a stop along the Beer Trail Highway.
Fort Bragg or Bust!
Although there are other ways to get to Fort Bragg, taking the Branscomb Road is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience with its double-ess curves and breathtakingly tall redwood trees in Admiral Standley SRA. The road ends at Highway 1 just north of the enclave of Westport. Take in the dramatic ocean vistas before heading south on the next leg of your “Ale Adventure” to Fort Bragg, which is home to a venerable giant among craft breweries. Founded in 1988, North Coast Brewing Company has set a standard for aspiring brewmasters with such masterworks as Red Seal Ale and Thelonious Abbey Ale among other fine North Coast brands. We salute their mission to “Make the World a Better Place, One Pint at a Time”. Brews with almost a view are on tap at Overtime Brewing on Elm Street. Picture two seventeen-year-olds, brewing beer on the sly with the idea of opening their own pub someday in the future… Well, the future arrived and Overtime was the result. Chow down on a home-cooked sammie to pair with your perfect pint. There’s pizza, and then there’s adult pizza, which is the only type of pie served at Piaci Pub & Pizzeria located just off the main drag. Take a seat at the bar and prepare to be regaled with seafaring stories from the salty dogs who make this place their home away from home. Owner Stephen Duerr knows exactly how to treat good beer, and that’s with care and attention in every glass.
Carry On to Caspar
The Caspar Inn was the stuff of music legends with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and other famed names occasionally gracing its stage. For some years, this former rock ‘n roll roadhouse gathered dust until in the fall of 2019, Jaye and Danny Ramirez recognized its potential and opened the Caspar Pub House. Based on the English pub model, the welcoming space serves up proper English pub grub and a great selection of hearty UK brews. Bring the kids for an early dinner… all ages welcome!
Meander to Mendocino
Riddle me this. What’s the connection between fine dining and craft beer? The unexpected answer lies in Café Beaujolais where Chef Julian Lopez pays homage to the hop with a craft beer list that’s longer than the wine list! For the beer aficionado this is manna in a glass with brews from Japan to Sardinia, and Belgium to Athens… that’s Athens Ohio. Make your dinner selection from the food menu and then request the perfect pour to pair. Twenty-eight beers are proudly poured at Patterson’s Pub, the epitome of an Irish pub housed in a former rectory. The food is great, the service outstanding and the beers are the bomb! Plus Patterson’s has the latest opening hours of any place in Mendocino.
Beer… in Boonville?
Yes, the rumors are true… creative brewing is alive and well and living in Boonville. Anderson Valley Brewing Company is a solar-powered facility that pumps out some of the best beers around. Year-round releases like Poleeko Pale Ale mingle with the Mendonesia series of brews and ales and a tasty selection of Goses, that tickle the tastebuds with their fruity sweet-tart profiles. Take a brewery tour, play disc golf or just kick back and enjoy the scenery and the resident herd of goats. Bahl hornin’!
We’re Wild for Wildflowers
From the inland hills and lakeshores to the coastal headlands and highways, springtime is flowering in Mendocino County. At Lake Mendocino, located just northeast of Ukiah, take any of the trails that wind along the lakeside to spot deep pink shooting stars that carpet banks dotted with Mule Ears and Hound’s Tongue. It’s a riot of color when Mariposa lilies cross paths with Firecracker Lilies!
Staying inland, Low Gap Park has two trails that offer lots of wildflower opportunities. In the spring and very early summer, and when conditions allow, there’s a vernal pool on City View Trail. Vernal—or ephemeral— pools are very fragile environments that teem with life and color. Hike up through the grasslands to the forested areas and on the way see Ithuriel’s Spear, Larkspur, Hound’s Tongue, Mission Bells, and Monkeyflowers. Combine City View and Canyon Creek trails for a 4+ mile loop with spectacular views of the Ukiah Valley.
The winding back roads of Mendocino County offer many opportunities for wildflower spotting. Madrones and manzanitas are distributed throughout Mendocino County and are easy to locate, with their distinctive bark and blooms. Montgomery Woods, on Orr Springs Road, is home to Trillium, Iris, and Wake Robins, all of which relish the damp and shady conditions. Calypso and Leopard Orchids are signs of spring and can be found along Orr Springs Road and in the Fern Canyon at Russian Gulch.
Growing abundantly on the cliffs and headlands north of Fort Bragg and near Manchester State Park, seaside daisies produces waves of lavender blooms offset against the coastal grasses. Hike along the Haul Road north of Fort Bragg to see coastal buckwheat and stunning displays of Mendocino Paintbrush, considered an endangered plant. Yellow and blue lupines dot the coastal meadows as do the bright fields of poppies which, due to the coastal environment, display a variety of shapes and colors. Hike the canyons of Russian Gulch and Van Damme State Parks to seek out the flora and fauna that punctuate the parks’ wilder places. And, while technically not wildflowers, the rhododendrons at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens burst into bloom with showy displays of shades of reds, purples, pinks, whites, and more! Later in the year, visit the Dahlia Garden with blooms as big as dinner plates.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Plan your trip to visit Mendocino County and see what all the talk is about!