My wife and I aren’t really the types to plan our weekends well in advance, and actually prefer to make spontaneous, last-minute plans. So halfway through the week prior to the 3-day MLK weekend in January, we decided that it’d be fun to drive up to Mendocino for a couple nights.
Despite having both lived in Northern California for essentially our entire lives, neither of us had been to Mendocino before, but we’d heard that the drive along the California coast was something that everyone needed to do at least once. Given that it was January, the weather wouldn’t be ideal, but we were fine with the gloom as long as there wasn’t constant rain.
After some research, we settled on the Brewery Gulch Inn which is a well-known Bed & Breakfast with just 11 rooms. As is the case with B&B’s, you typically book an exact room in advance, and we were happy just to be able to snag the Madrone room which was the very last one available. We didn’t give it much thought at the time but this turned out to be a poor choice (more on that later).
The drive from the San Francisco Bay Area takes about 3-4 hours and takes you up past Sonoma wine country, through the beautiful redwood forest, and ultimately to Highway 1 along the breathtaking California coastline. For those that get car sick, make sure to prepare ahead of time as this is one of the windiest roads you’ll find.
We turned off the highway and followed the dirt driveway leading up to the inn.
We immediately felt relaxed as we entered, and were surrounded by the rush of warmth from the large fireplace in the middle of the lobby. The check-in process only takes a couple minutes since we were one of just a handful of people checking-in that day and everything had been organized and arranged ahead of time.
We were shown to the Madrone room on the 1st floor and got settled in. There was a large king bed along with a box of caramels waiting for us on the nightstand.
The living room featured a couple huge, comfortable chairs facing our own gas fireplace.
And the bathroom had a large jacuzzi tub that doubled as the shower.
The living room had doors that opened up to our own private patio, but we didn’t utilize this space at all due to the cold weather.
At booking we didn’t think much of our room selection, but as I mentioned above it turned out to be a huge disappointment in terms of the noise. Either there was an elephant staying in the room above us, or the inn just does not have adequate sound insulation as we heard every step, every cough, and every word spoken by the couple above us. As a light sleeper and even with earplugs, I was only able to get a few hours of sleep each night. So if you’re planning a trip to the Brewery Gulch Inn, I’d recommend ONLY staying on the 2nd floor.
The good news is that for the most part, other than sleeping, we didn’t really spend that much time in the room. Most of the time spent at the inn was in the lobby where there was always an assortment of snacks and beverages that were continuously refreshed throughout the day. This included one of the best pecan pies I’ve ever had.
In addition to the food, the lobby had a wide array of inn-style entertainment options including newspapers, magazines and a large library with plenty of books and DVD’s to choose from.
Oh, and of course board games!
Each night there is a light dinner served at 5pm at the inn, and when we called to inquire about it, were told that most guests used this as their primary meal. As a big eater, the word “light” scared me, so we ended up making dinner reservations for both nights in advance. But after seeing the dinner spread on the first night, we ended up canceling all of our reservations since this was more than enough food, and best of all was really, really good.
Sample menus from our two nights are shown below, my understanding is that the menu changes daily.
Night #1 featured a delicious caprese salad and parmesan chicken slathered in marinara sauce.
And the next night had crab-avocado rolls, amazingly tender coconut curried beef, and berries Romanoff for dessert.
I noticed that there were several people with dietary restrictions who received personalized meals at both breakfast and dinner, and from what I could tell the inn was very accommodating.
Speaking of breakfast, as expected at a B&B, breakfast was included in the room rate and was absolutely fantastic.
There was coffee and muffins to start.
And a choice of entree from the menu, including some daily specials such as crab eggs benedict, which likely was a special with all the leftover crab from the night before.
The next day I opted for the classic breakfast, which included the inn’s signature “Millionaire’s bacon” which was a thick cut of bacon slathered in brown sugar and pepper, and incredibly delicious.
Outside the inn there is so much do see and do around Mendocino. We really enjoyed the coastal trail which had amazing views all along the coast, and loved exploring the downtown area which is just so different than anything we’d experienced before.
We drove up to Ft. Bragg and stopped by the Point Cabrillo lighthouse on the way, and also made a stop at the the Pygmy Forest.
But the highlight of the sightseeing, at least for me, was the Point Arena lighthouse located about an hour south of Mendocino. We didn’t pay the entrance fee to visit the actual lighthouse, as the views from outside were more than sufficient. It was a mesmerizing sight to just sit and watch the water froth up along the rocks.
Overall, we had an amazing time in Mendocino and would definitely stay at the Brewery Gulch Inn again, albeit in a room on the 2nd floor. While we’ve done weekend getaways to Napa and Sonoma wine country before, this was a completely different experience and certainly worth the additional 1-2 hour drive north.