Romance in Mendocino
Where to go and what to do to fan the flame of love
Spring is fully upon us. Ah, spring, that season when we all get a little bit twitterpated, as the good old Owl in Bambi would say. Maybe it’s that particularly soft glow in the air as the days continue to lengthen. Maybe it’s the quickening sense of life in the plants that surround us. Or maybe it’s the welcome warmth that takes us out of the winter chill. Whatever the reason, right now is indeed the season for love!
We were chatting recently with several local friends about this romance that fills our senses, and we came up with a list of the best places to go for those looking to fan a little flame.
Russian Gulch State Park: Topping the list of local favorites for romantic spots in Mendocino, this park’s main trail is 5-8 miles round trip, with a lovely waterfall at the turn around. Nearer the park entrance, you can also go out onto the headlands for a sweeping panoramic view of the ocean. Take a picnic for the full experience!
Lover’s Bench: Another local favorite, this picturesque oversized wooden bench on the Mendocino Headlands off the end of Main Street is forever filled with couples holding hands as they gaze out at the surging waves. Recently, it was the scene of the most tender of sunset proposals. Go take a seat and enjoy the view together.
Spring Ranch: Usually pretty quiet, this secluded bit of coastal trail has the perfect balance of rugged cliffs, fresh spring flowers, and open skies. We suggested it to some guests not too long ago who were looking for a romantic walk, and they came back engaged! Stroll the peaceful cliff-top trail hand-in-hand, and take a break on the cozy bench near the southern end.
The Cypress Grove: Once wedding season hits its stride come summer, we can’t seem to visit this natural chapel by the sea without finding freshly strewn rice or rose petals every time – evidence of the many small wedding ceremonies that take advantage of its charming view. We ourselves have performed many sweet elopements under those arching cypress trees. Stop for a moment to soak in the majesty of this grove’s vista and listen to the wind in the trees overhead.
Big River Beach: Always a favorite with locals, this beach is the perfect spot for watching the sun rise over the hills and for dreamy moonlight strolls with your toes in the sand. And since those tend to be fairly chilly times of day here, they’re the perfect excuse for walking wrapped in each other’s arms! Take beach blankets and cozy up as you stop to appreciate the peace of the moment.
Greenwood State Beach: This little gem of a beach is tucked away at the end of a trail that meanders down from the hamlet of Elk - it’s a veritable retreat from the general hustle and bustle of life. Local couples love settling down by one of the many driftwood logs in this idyllic cove, where they feel like the only people in the world. Grab a delicious picnic from the Elk Store across the street, and celebrate life together with a bottle of Mendocino wine as you watch the waves swirling in to shore.
Pacific Star Winery: One of Guy’s favorite spots on the coast, this winery has absolutely stunning views. With plenty of picnic benches, it gives ample opportunity for visitors to simply stop and take in the glories of the ocean. Pick up a bottle of wine from their tasting room and watch for whales together.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: For all flower lovers, these gardens are an absolute must. In spring, their forest of rhododendrons is a riot of sweet colors and scents. And in late summer and early fall, the dahlia garden is in high demand as a wedding venue. Stroll through the many verdant paths, relax on a bench as you pick out your favorite flowers, and breathe deeply of the fresh green air.
And of course, as one recently married couple we know said, “You can’t underestimate how powerfully simple walks through the charming village of Mendocino can deepen your love! They were absolutely key in the development of our relationship, and we will cherish them forever.”
Written by Laura Hockett