Gay Mendocino County
Known for its towering redwoods, world-renowned viticulture and striking seaside views, Mendocino County has long been a destination for travelers looking to get away for a while. Located just a couple hours’ drive from San Francisco, this relaxed destination can be a welcome respite from the city while being just as gay-friendly.
Mendocino County’s romantic and picturesque locales make for the perfect couple's getaway or family vacation, while its outdoor activities offer adventurous travelers the chance to explore one of the most stunning destinations of Northern California. Enjoy long walks through miles of towering redwood trails, traverse wine and beer trails through Anderson Valley and the Redwood Corridor, or stay in and curl up by the fire with an amazing view from a cozy seaside inn or vacation home.
Mendocino County Gay Scene
Mendocino County’s gay scene is much more relaxed than the youthful party scene in San Francisco. With a plethora of gay-friendly and LGBTQ-owned businesses, this quaint corner of wine country is the ideal place for mature gay travelers interested in a relaxing getaway or wine buffs looking to expand their collection. What Mendocino County lacks in nightlife, it makes up for in peaceful seaside getaways and world-famous food and wine.
Local Tips, Tricks and News
If you’re planning a road trip along the California coast, stop at one of Mendocino County’s many beaches to stretch your legs and snap some scenic photos. Travelers are advised to book lodging ahead of time, as accommodations can be spread out. Be aware that not everywhere in Mendocino County has excellent cell service — one of the many attractions for those looking for an escape! Carry an extra layer of clothes just in case, as the weather on the coast can be chilly even during the summer months.
Spotlight on a Few of the County's LGBT-Owned Businesses:
Queenie’s Roadhouse Café - Located on the famous California Route 1 South Coast, Queenie’s is the place to stop for breakfast or lunch anytime they’re open. Cozy up by the fireplace stove or admire the view from the outdoor deck while sipping your coffee and chowing down on huevos rancheros!
Bink Wines - Founded in 2003, Bink Wines is the realization of the dream of partners Deb Schatzlein and Cindy Paulson, two women with a passion for hand-crafted, elegant wines. A visit to Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley in 1994 brought their dream to life, and in 1999 they planted their first Syrah and Merlot vines for Hawks Butte Vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands. Bink Wines produces Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlot, all with grapes from the Yorkville Highlands appellation. The winery is small and will remain so, and Deb and Cindy are committed to living by their words: "dream big, act now, love life."
Skunk Train - Steam and locomotive engines, pulling restored rail cars, snake along the winding tracks, from the tops of the coastal range to the depths of the Noyo River canyon. From the open car or the comfort of your seat, sip a Bloody Mary while admiring the giant redwoods that line the track. The Skunk Train is also a truly unique venue to say “I Do!” Departs from Fort Bragg and Willits.
Queenie’s Roadhouse Café, Elk - An institution on the South Coast, Queenie’s is the place to stop for breakfast or lunch any time they’re open. Cozy up by the fireplace stove or admire the view from the outdoor deck while sipping your coffee and chowing down on huevos rancheros!
The Madrones - A slice of the Mediterranean in the heart of Anderson Valley awaits city-weary travelers. Nine tastefully appointed guest quarters provide top of the line comfort. A romantic English-style garden and four on-site tasting rooms are just perfect for whiling away an afternoon. Enjoy dinner at the petite Stone & Embers, conveniently situated on the grounds. With "Eat, Drink, and Stay" in one spot, The Madrones is ideal for a weekend getaway.
Pennyroyal Farm - Get your goat on at Pennyroyal Farm where you can tour the barn full of goats of all ages... from the cutest kids in the spring to the older ladies who are out to pasture. A farmstead producing goat and goat/sheep cheeses, this is also the home of Pennyroyal estate wines. Tour, taste and get to chat with the owners, Sarah and Star.
Glendeven Inn / Inn at Cobbler’s Walk, Little River - These two spectacular properties are set above Van Damme State Park in Little River, and adjacent to Spring Ranch with its pristine coastal cliff hiking trails. In-room breakfasts, farm-to-table dinners, fireplaces, and the Glendeven Wine Bar[n] create an incredible lodging experience for travelers looking for a great escape.
Mendocino County Events:
Mendocino Film Festival -- Countywide
From the coast to the mountains, movie buffs can view screenings at multiple venues throughout Mendocino County. Featuring special guest appearances and a rich assortment of curated films. 707.937.0171 www.mendocinofilmfestival.org
Laytonville Rodeo -- Laytonville
An annual event since 1975! Enjoy the afternoon’s rodeo entertainment with bull rides, steer wrestling, roping, barrel races and a whole lot more cowboy fun!
707.984.0067 • www.laytonville.org
Taste of Downtown -- Ukiah
In historic downtown, wineries and breweries from throughout the region partner with downtown merchants in offering tastings, live entertainment, vendor booths, locally sourced food and refreshments.
Village of Mendocino’s 4th of July Parade -- Mendocino
Enjoy a true hometown parade with lots of floats and fun for everyone… dogs, people, horses, art cars, music and much, much more.
707.961.6300 • www.mendocinocoast.com
World’s Largest Salmon BBQ -- Noyo Harbor • Fort Bragg
Delighting salmon lovers since 1970. Your ticket buys a giant plate of wild-caught salmon, salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread, along with live music and dancing. Vegetarian option available. 707.962.9141 www.salmonrestoration.com
Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting -- Anderson Valley
Join Anderson Valley and Yorkville Highlands wineries and enjoy unprecedented access to winery cellars, taste yet-to-be-released wines, and purchase futures of your favorites at a special barrel tasting weekend price!
707.895.9463 • www.avwines.com
Mendocino Music Festival -- Mendocino
A magical blend of fine music by outstanding performers in one of the most enchanting sites in Northern California: orchestra concerts to Big Band, blues and jazz to world and popular contemporary music.
707.937.2044 • www.mendocinomusic.com
Willits Kinetic Carnivale -- Willits
An amazing array of activities for aficionados of kinetic energy and steam power with a grand ball, handcar races, fair and a symphony of steam engines.
707.459.2736 • www.kineticcarnivale.com
Art in the Redwoods Festival -- Gualala
The grounds will be filled to the brim with vendor booths offering a host of items including jewelry, ceramics, wood, tiles, weavings, specialized apparel, leather goods, photographs, textiles and artwork. 707.884.1138 • www.gualalaarts.org
Round Valley Blackberry Festival -- Covelo
Blackberry delicacies, arts and crafts, live music, wine tasting, kids’ activities, square dance, 5K and 10K run, car show and much more!
Seafood & Harbor Festival -- Point Arena
Time for some fun at the pier! Get your pirate duds on and compete for best costume, munch on abalone cakes, fish tacos, and seafood kabobs, and quench your thirst with craft beers and Mendocino wines.
Winesong Charity Auction & Tasting -- Little River/Fort Bragg
Pinot Noir Celebration: The evening before the auction, enjoy outstanding wines and an amazing view at the Little River Inn. On auction day, stroll the gardens while sipping premium wines and savoring delectable bites. Bid on an array of items and watch the fun build at the live auction.
707.961.4688 • www.winesong.org
Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show -- Boonville
Fun for the entire family at this real country fair: parade, rides, animals, displays, California Wool & Fiber Festival, sheep dog trials, and rodeo.
707.895.3011 • www.mendocountyfair.com
American Craft Week -- Countywide
Galleries, studios and businesses open their doors with special shows, events and demonstrations featuring beautiful handmade crafts produced in Mendocino County.
707.463.2727 • www.artsmendocino.org
Abalone Cook-Off -- Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg
Attend the World Championship Abalone Cook-Off as a competing cook or a tasting judge; it’s a fun and delicious way to help Mendocino Area Parks and Recreation support our beautiful parks! 707.937.4700 • www.mendoparks.org