Hike through this scenic park for its excellent views and beaches and browse the fascinating exhibits in the visitor center.
Mendocino Headlands State Park is a scenic coastal area covering 347 acres (140 hectares) of beaches, cliffs and historic houses. Arches, secluded grottos and other intriguing rock formations decorate the coast. Stroll along the gentle trails with the family to appreciate the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Arrive at the visitor center in the Historic Ford House in the southeastern part of the park. The 19th-century building contains a model of the town as it was in 1890. Watch videos on the migration of the gray whale, the logging period of the town and other historic moments. Examine the historic photos, tools and artifacts that chronicle the town’s history.
Hike along the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) Mendocino Headlands Trail with a guide for a better understanding of the local plants and wildlife. In spring, see wildflowers in blossom embellishing the sides of the trails. Blackberry and rose brambles are also common here. Spot the majestic gray whales migrating in winter.
Sunbathe on the sandy bay of Portuguese Beach at the western end of the state park. Descend the staircase to this isolated beach and enjoy the tranquility.
At the southern end of the park is the vast Big River Beach. Join the surfers and picnickers on this scenic stretch of sand, which often has a lagoon where the river meets the ocean. Explore the adjacent Big River Wetlands for its range of habitats. In July, the park hosts the Mendocino Music Festival, with orchestral and big band performances alongside jazz, blues and dance.
Make use of the park during the daylight hours. Bring layers of clothing, as the weather is particularly changeable here. Consider purchasing an annual pass to California’s state parks.
Mendocino Headlands State Park overlooks the Pacific Ocean on the northwestern side of Mendocino. Ride a bus to one of the stops bordering the park. Visit nearby attractions, such as the Mendocino Art Center, St. Anthony’s Hall and Friendship Park.