The coast of Northern California is full of beautiful scenery, including stunning forests and delicious wines. It is highly recommended that you take a scenic drive up to Mendocino, California. Listed below are some of the top attractions and destinations that lie north of San Francisco.
But before you travel, it’s important to map out your itinerary to ensure you don’t miss a thing. We’ve put together a free Itinerary of all the best places to eat, hike, shop, and watch the sunset in Mendocino so you don’t have to worry about missing a thing!
Is It Expensive to Live in San Francisco?
San Francisco, California has a 76% higher cost of living than the U.S. average and a 25% higher cost of living than the rest of the state.
San Francisco, California has housing that is 202% more expensive than the national average, and utilities that are about 33% more expensive.
Why San Francisco is So Costly?
The cost of a home in San Francisco is higher than in any other American city. One reason is a lack of available land: the city sits on a small peninsula, making it difficult to expand outward like Los Angeles, and it’s also in an earthquake-prone region, making it difficult to build upward like Manhattan.
Which is More Expensive LA or SF?
Even though Los Angeles is a costly city, it pales in comparison. When comparing the cost of living in Los Angeles and San Francisco, you’ll quickly realize that the latter is much more reasonable. San Francisco has a 35% higher cost of living than Los Angeles.
What is the Most Famous Area in San Francisco?
Tours of “The Rock,” a former lighthouse station that was transformed into a military prison and then a federal prison in 1934, are extremely popular and often sell out weeks in advance.
Best Places to Visit North of San Francisco
Here are the places you shouldn’t miss on this exciting journey!
1. The National Park Service’s Point Reyes
We begin our journey about an hour north of San Francisco. A lot of people from the Bay Area travel to this beautiful beach and park. The towering cliffs serve as a stunning gateway to the vast regions of the state’s north.
Sadly, I rarely get the chance to enjoy one of Southern California’s dramatic cliffs. As an aside, I think I may have gotten too much of a gothic romance fix when I was younger. If it’s not too foggy, you should check out the Point Reyes Lighthouse, whose beacon has been guiding ships into safe harbor since the 1870s.
2. Fort Ross
On Highway 1, about two hours north of Point Reyes, you’ll find Fort Ross. Location of the southernmost Russian fort in North America; now a residential neighborhood in the tiny town of Jenner.
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It came as a shock to me and later as an embarrassment to admit that I had forgotten that there were Russian settlements on the West Coast until I learned about this fort. The Russian-American Company sold the fur-trading and ship-building center of Fort Ross to an immigrant named Johann Sutter in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Can you recommend any tourist attractions in Gualala? In all candor, not very much. The Trinks cafe is fantastic, though, so that’s the only reason I’d recommend a detour here.
A cold rain fell as I drove up. I arrived in Gualala, a town about 45 minutes north of Fort Ross. I hung out at Trinks for a couple of hours, devouring a fantastic bowl of soup and some beautiful pastries.
4. State Park Beach of Greenwood
The stretch of Highway 1 between Gualala and Mendocino passes through several small unincorporated communities, state preserves, and secluded beaches. Greenwood State Beach in Elk, about 45 minutes north of Gualala, is a great option if you want to visit a beach.
A (fairly clean) restroom and a map of the area are accessible from the parking lot. Down on the driftwood-strewn beach, you can take a pleasant and quick stroll. The Pacific Ocean could be all to yourself and the only company you have.
5. Retail Therapy in Downtown Mendocino
On the edge of the dramatic bluffs known as the Mendocino headlands is where you’ll find the cute, artsy town of Mendocino. Travelers staying the night on their way to or from San Francisco often choose this picturesque town as their destination because the 101 route from Marin County is quicker than the coastal route.
From glass otter artwork to beard balms, you can find it all in the city’s curio shops. Mendocino Country Store and Gallery Bookshop, where I met Catsby, the wonderfully unimpressed store cat, were two of my favorite shops.
6. In Fort Bragg, Glass Beach
One hour north of Mendocino, you’ll find Fort Bragg, which reminded me of Mendocino’s working-class, grungy second cousin. It’s where the Skunk Train, a vintage train that runs on a track through the Redwoods, departs for its scenic round-trip journey.
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It also is home to the North Coast Brewing Company, an excellent California microbrewery. However, for your road trip stop, I recommend visiting the well-known Glass Beach at the north end of town. Glass Beach, located in MacKerricher State Park, was a former dump site for the community.
7. Breweries of Humboldt County
Humboldt County, from its former timber roots, has developed thriving industries in marijuana growing and beer brewing.
Whatever your predilection, you should try out some of the local offerings. I’m more of a beer person myself. Close by Highway 101, you’ll find Eel River Brewing, Mad River, and the large Lost Coast Brewery.
North of San Francisco, California expands dramatically. Once you leave Marin and Napa and enter the vast, forested true Northern California, you will notice a rapid decline in traffic and commercial establishments.
The low population density and stunning scenery make it easy to enjoy time outside without having to deal with other people. Flags for Jefferson, the proposed breakaway state that would comprise much of northern California and some counties in southern Oregon, could start to appear among the redwoods and rocky beaches up here.