2 Day Road Trip From Point Reyes to Mendocino, CA

2 Day Road Trip From Point Reyes to Mendocino, CA Claimed

2 Days | Fall 2023

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Trip Overview

Road Trip from Point Reyes to Mendocito, Ca

Full Itinerary

How, as a California native, had I not done this spectacular drive before??? The California coastal area between Point Reyes and Mendocino is breathtaking, and a couple of days trip allows you to explore this beautiful coastal area of Northern California (and a 3-4 day trip would allow you to get even more in-depth on all it has to offer, or it could be combined with a Sonoma wine country trip).  Just a stone’s throw from San Francisco and the Bay Area, it seems a world away. 


Here is a two-day fall itinerary. Fall was a perfect time to visit with the colors changing, the beautiful sunsets, and the lack of crowds. And FYI cell service is spotty along this route. Download a map of Point Reyes trail hikes ahead of time if you plan to do some hiking, as well as those of any other parks you plan to visit/hike at.

Day 1: Bay Area – Point Reyes – Jenner

Drive from the Bay Area to Point Reyes Station (the town at Point Reyes). Point Reyes Station is approximately 1-hour drive north of San Francisco. You can take the slightly longer drive up the coast if you want to stop at Stinson Beach (Park Side Cafe is great for breakfast or lunch) or Bolinas (nice museum) en route. 

Point Reyes Station:

This really cute town has a small-town feel, but enough restaurants, shops, etc to wander around for an hour or two (more if you stay for a meal). Worth a stop, even if just picking up some sandwiches for a hike in the park.


Toby’s Coffee ‘Counter’, next door to the Post Office

The Station House restaurant

The Farmer’s Wife – Supposedly the best sandwich you’ll ever have…and yes they are around $25! But supposedly they are big enough to feed three people. 

Brickmaiden Breads – for great baked goods and sandwiches (they do sell out so grab early if possible)


Toby’s general store  – for gifts, picnic items

Palace Market – for all your grocery or picnic needs

Vita – for beautifully curated Homewares, Gifts, Clothing

Coyuchi – Outlet for the fancy upscale bedding brand

Monk Estate– well curated home goods and antique jewelry (plus gallery in back)

Lunch in Olema:

Olema is just a 5-10 minute drive south and there is a supercharger at Tavern X Market, where you can also grab a sandwich, or a meal next door at Due West Tavern Restaurant.

Point Reyes/Inverness:

Time to hike and explore! Point Reyes is a hiker’s delight. You can also see a ton just driving around. It is a big area and be sure you have a map downloaded, or take a photo of a map, in case you don’t have a cell signal so you know your way around. You can find a map here.

Suggested hikes/areas to explore include:

  • Ranger Station Bear Valley hike
  • Sky Camp Parking Lot Trailhead – you will be up on a ridge
  • Drive to Pierce Point Ranch. Once there, there is a 9 mile round trip hike
  • Kehoe Beach (en route to Pierce Point Ranch) – a short, easy walk from the trailhead to the beach 
  • Abbots Lagoon – shorter hike
  • Chimney Rock – shorter, beautiful hike with ocean overlook
  • Drake’s Beach
  • North Beach
  • From the visitor’s center, Arch Rock hike
  • Sunset-drive up Vision Road to the ridge for the lookout.

You can also rent Kayaks at Blue Water in downtown Inverness

If you decide to stay overnight in this area, options include:

Manka’s Inverness Lodge

Cottages at Point Reyes

Nick’s Cove (see below)

After Leaving Point Reyes, drive North 

Nick’s Cove: 20 minutes north of Point Reyes on Tomales Bay is Nick’s Cove which is a place to stay as well as a place to stop for a bite or a drink overlooking the water. Stop here for a drink on the pier, and if you can be sure to grab a spot at the end of the pier where there are seats and a little house/shack that are great places to hang out at sunset or any time. 

After Nick’s Cove, I drove north on Hwy 1 until my final destination of Jenner. If you like Oysters, Hog Island Oysters is a stop for you. This section is about a 45-minute drive that takes you inland a bit and then along the coast before you reach Bodega Bay – a small town that could be a quick stop – at which point you then drive along the coast to Jenner. If Salt Water Taffy is your thing then be sure to stop at the cute Patricks of Bodega Bay Salt Water Taffy. Beautiful drive through tiny towns amongst beautiful scenery.  Be sure to do the drive during daylight so you don’t miss the views!

Jenner: I spent the night at the Jenner Inn which was fine, the only place in ‘town’ really (the town is a gas station/convenience store, kayak rental spot, the Cafe Aquatica restaurant, and the Inn…and that’s about it. It’s directly on the water where the Russian River meets the ocean. If you get there while it’s open, have a drink or a bite at the Cafe Acquatica which is terrific – super low-key with chairs next to the water and music on weekends. During winter they are open 8-4. Great spot for breakfast as well! 

After checking in to the hotel I drove to check out Duncan Mills (maybe 10-15 minutes inland) which is a super charming little town with a couple of stores, restaurants, and shops set amongst the redwoods. I almost had dinner at Cape Fear Cafe, which looked great but opted for eating at the water, near the hotel in Jenner, at  River End Restaurant and Inn which is right over the water and had good ambiance/food (a bit fancier than the Capfe Fear Cafe). 

Day 2:  Jenner to Mendocino (aka ‘Mendo’)

The Jenner Inn gave me a bag breakfast but I opted for an awesome lunch across the street at 

Cafe Aquatica – great casual coffee shop with breakfast foods like avo toast, eggs, etc. SUCH a beautiful place to sit outside and eat by the river looking out towards the ocean.

The rest of the day I drove up to Mendocino, a 2 hour 15 minute drive without stops. But this is SUCH a beautiful drive that you should plan on taking most of the day, arriving in Mendo in time to wander through town. Consider the drive like a ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour where you just stop your car all along the way to explore towns, take photos, to admire the incredible views. Some highlights along the drive North from Jenner to Mendocino:

Beaches/Overlooks: There are many, many beaches and vistas along the way. Pull over whenever it strikes you!

Timber Cove Resort – beautiful hotel overlooking the ocean. I was told it has a great restaurant. The fire pit overlooking the ocean is amazing! 

Fort Ross – Worth a stop to visit and learn the history of this fort built by the Russians and Alaskans in the early 1800s.

TwoFish Baking – located in the Stewarts Point Store in Stewart’s Point, for baked goods sandwiches and more.

Sea Ranch Resort – Big resort of homes spread across oceanfront property. Great place for a group to stay. It also has horseback riding and other amenities. 

Anchor Bay Thai Kitchen – good Thai. 

In Anchor Bay the Mar Vista Cottages are an option for lodging.

Van Damme Park – just before Mendocino this park has a fern trail (currently closed) and a trail amongst pygmy trees, amongst others. 

Mendocino Headlands State Park



  • Just wander through town and check out the stores etc. Be sure to check out The Study Club Mendocino – such beautiful clothing and home brands/things! 
  • Walk around the Mendocino Headlands. 
  • Take in the sunset! From the headlands or elsewhere.
  • There’s a six-mile hike in Russian Gulch to a waterfall – supposed to be great!


There are lots of options, but I stayed at the Agate Cove which was a great b&b with an amazing view overlooking the ocean from the communal breakfast area (where they also have complementary sunset wine hour from 4-5 – so beautiful). Room was great, the breakfast delicious and the staff so kind and helpful.


Lots of options….a few include:

Patterson Pub – casual pub-style dinner where I went. 

Mendocino Cafe for Asian fusion

Good Life Cafe and Bakery (open 8-2 so good for breakfast and lunch)

Lighter dinner at The Waiting Room

Trillium Cafe – nice upscale dinner option

Fish tacos at Noyo Harbor

The Waiting Room – a cozy spot for coffee or cocktails

Day 3 – Drive Home

I took the inland route home which takes you south along the coast a bit and then inland through gorgeous redwood forests and then into the Sonoma wine country. Boonville is worth a quick stop if you have time/things are open




Time of year


Type of Trip

Adventure/Active, Nature


quick getaway/weekend

Who Went


Accommodation Type





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