Mendocino Coast: Little River Inn review

The Mendocino coastal area offers stunning natural beauty, warm hospitality, quaint, unpretentious towns, and outdoor exploration galore! It’s a great region in which to base your California northern coastal road trip, and a stay at Little River Inn is a must!

Tip: We tacked a trip to the Mendocino coast onto our Grown-Up Getaway to Sonoma, and the two destinations paired beautifully, but kids love the Mendocino coast as well!

Little River Inn review:

This multi-generational family business lies right on the coast at Little River, just minutes from Mendocino. Families have their pick between seaside luxury accommodations, oceanview rooms, oceanview fireplace rooms, and Victorian gables. Our oceanview fireplace room was spacious, and boasted a wood-burning fireplace, which we really loved. We also loved the value: check for current pricing on the official website, but off-season deals abound at the Little River Inn. The large patio was semi-private and featured several chairs from which to view the ocean, which is directly across Highway 1. From our room, we could even spot seals on the beach at Little River.

Yes, other area hotels probably have sea views as well, but what sets Little River Inn apart is the spacious grounds with so much to do. There’s a golf course on-site, which dips into the woods behind the hotel, as well as a putting green and tennis courts. The small but welcoming spa sits next to the golf clubhouse and pro shop, and offers a full array of services, as well as beauty services. We loved that this option existed, especially during the winter months when the weather might keep you inside.

And if it does, no worries: our room had cozy arm chairs situated by the large windows overlooking the ocean, where we settled down with books. Ole’s Whale Watch Bar is a local favorite, it seems, with a friendly staff and a deep wine list. We loved their signature cocktails, too. Families could order off a bar menu in Ole’s for casual dining, or head into nearby Mendocino for a variety of diners and cafes. Since we were visiting Little River Inn without the kids, we opted to make a reservation in the inn’s dining room, where we enjoyed a stand-out meal. Try the award-winning crab cakes! Dessert was fantastic, too.

Outdoor exploration:

We recommend booking at least a two-night stay at Little River Inn (mostly because we didn’t want to leave when it was time to go!). In the immediate area, there’s lots to do outdoors if the weather is cooperating. The best beaches can be found at Van Damme State Beach (just about one minute away), or Caspar Beach, on the Point Cabrillo Drive off Highway 1.

We went hiking at Van Damme’s Pygmy Forest (ask at the park ranger station at the entrance to the park for directions, as its in a different location, and free to enter), and we wished we’d had time to explore The Fairy Trail inside the Botanical Gardens at Fort Bragg. Jug Handle State Preserve also has hiking, including an ecological science hike for older kids.

Order breakfasts directly to your room each morning to get an early start on your day, or visit the Little River Inn dining room. Their specialty is the Ole’s Swedish pancakes, but I also loved the eggs benedict. There’s a small market and gas station across the street as well. Pets are welcome at Little River Inn for a $25/night fee, and parking on-site is free, as is WiFi.

From Little River, head up the coast past Mendocino to explore Eureka and the redwoods, or cut back to Highway 101 and back toward the Sonoma area if your trip takes you that way!

Disclosure: We were guests of the Little River Inn for the purpose of review. All opinion remains our own.