We live in SF and have been visiting Mendocino several times a year for about 30 years. We used to stay in Mendocino village but now it's too expensive, and often you pay an arm and a leg and get no view at all.
So for the past few years, we usually stay at the BW Vista Manor in Fort Bragg, which is a nice basic motel with a GREAT view of the beach where Pudding Creek meets the Pacific. The rooms have a table and chairs by the window, so you can sit there and have your breakfast (or take out dinner from the Harvest Market) and enjoy the view while dining.
Ask for an ocean view room, and you will get a wonderful view of the old train trestle and the beach, for half what you would pay to stay in a B&B with no view at all. It's at the very north end of town, across from the start of the Ten Mile Beach, and it's up on a hill overlooking the ocean.
I am almost reluctant to tell people to stay there, because the view is so nice for the price, I don't want it to get too popular! It already sells out on a lot of weekends.
Unique Quality: The view from the upstairs rooms.
Directions: North end of Fort Bragg on Main Street.
It was our first time to Fort Bragg and we chose the Best Western based on it's price and other's recommendations. Our room was on the second floor and was large, clean, and tastefully decorated. In addition to the wonderful view of the beach the room included a small sofa, coffee maker, and a small refrigerator to keep snacks and drinks cold.
A continental breakfast is offered but we chose to save our appetite for breakfast at Eggheads (YUMMY)
Unique Quality: Free wireless internet is available
Has an indoor swimming pool but we didn't use it
Directions: On the north end of town
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Address: 1100 N Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437