Motel 6 was becoming one of our reoccurring accommodation options ever since we succumbed to a room after 60 straight days of camping earlier in this trip. Their website made it easy to book and they generally were one of the least expensive and reliably clean places to stay. We tried to use rooms only when we needed one and this again filled that bill, having come after two weeks of camping in both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. It was also at the end of a day that saw us drive from the parks to San Francisco for lunch and then up to Santa Rosa to check out the Russian River brewpub.
This particular Motel 6 was nicer than most and as always very conveniently located to the highway. As is the case with most of them, they charge an extra $3 for wireless access but aside from that, it was decent value at $71 including tax. I guess the biggest gripe would be it was not within walking distance of the town center so we had to drive to the brewpub.
We stumbled upon Lake Mendocino Recreation Area by accident but it was a good find. We didn't go there to see the lake in particular though it was a pretty area. We wanted to keep our costs down and having just stayed in a room the night previous, it was time to camp once again. It turned out to be a great spot and if it hadn't been 4th of July weekend, probably a quiet one as well.
The spots were set on classic dried out California hills, with trees providing some shade and picnic tables a place to eat. They were having some kind of water problems when we were there so the regular restrooms were closed and port-o-toilets were set up alongside them. We paid $10 for the very spacious spot but looking at their website I see the normal price is $20 for non-lakeside. It also says if you have an America The Beautiful Pass (which we did), it is half price. There are a number of campgrounds around the lake, all run by the Army Corps of Engineering so check for what is currently available on their website.
This is not in an overly convenient location though not so far out-of-the-way. It is more a place to go as a destination rather than as an on-the-road stop. We actually went into their visitor center and they had some interesting displays on the lake and wildlife in the area
Van Damme State Park is one of California's gems, little known to those outside the area. With so many great state parks along the Big Sur highway and National Parks east of the coastal areas, it's easy to see how it gets missed. We certainly would have done just that if my cousin from nearby Sacramento was not camping there over the 4th of July weekend. We did not really get to properly explore this lush coastal park aside from camping for the night and a beach walk in the morning but if ever in the area again, we could certainly try and spend more time there. There are hiking and biking trails along with a nice chunk of beach just across the small road you take to get to the park.
Drive-in spots are $35 per night but include shower facilities in modern restrooms. It is pricey but that is California coastal camping in general and the truth is we would not have been able to get a spot as it was fully booked. Luckily, my cousin was camping and his spot was big enough for us to put our tent up for the night and not infringe on their space whatsoever. We had to pay $6 to park the car overnight in the park.
Redwood National Park and Redwood State Parks California seem to have merged and what this probably means to the average person is higher camping fees. Coastal camping in California is not inexpensive but it is very scenic and popular for good reason. Most campgrounds we passed were full and we were more than happy to camp at Del Norte Redwood State Park.
It was the site of logging before becoming part of the Park system so there are many remains of cut down redwoods which is a bit sad. They are covered in lovely moss and do not look as unnatural as it sounds. We had to drive around a bit before finding a spot and was a real bargain at only $20. Most of the more popular campgrounds are charging $35. It was only for the night and served its purpose well, putting us right in the midst of many nice walks and drives, and close to the Oregon border, our next port of call.
This is a really nice, quirky place to stay, where you can work off part of your fees if you want by chopping wood or working in the garden or doing things around the house. You won't beat this place for the nature -- the ocean is across the highway, and then you've got the forest the other way. Campsites also available.
Here's from the website: Jughandle Creek Farm and Nature Center is a non-profit, educational center and overnight facility. The 39 acres of the Center include forests and meadows, nature trails, a century-old Victorian farmhouse and a campground area. As a nature center we provide a Science and Ecology Program for schools, an After School Nature Education Program and a summer Nature Day Camp for local kids . We are the home of the Stewardship/Greenhouse Project, working with schools on restoration/education projects and raising native plants for use by the State Parks Department and others. We also maintain a natural history library; a science equipment lending library for local school districts and literature and maps about the Jughandle Ecological Staircase trail for visitors. For overnight accomodations we offer private rooms in the Farmhouse, Cabins or campsites to groups, families or individuals who share our interests in nature. The campground, some trails, and the farmhouse are wheelchair accessible. (Please ask us about other wheelchair accessible facilities elsewhere in Northern California.)
We are adjacent to the the thousand-acre Jughandle State Reserve and we serve as a "gateway" to the Jughandle Ecological Staircase, a unique formation of geological terraces stretching from the intertidal zone off the coast, through coastal prairie and redwood forests and terminating in pygmy pine forests at the topmost terrace
It's the type of place that attracts interesting people. If you like to people watch, come here. It's the type of place where, if you wake up early, you'll see someone performing yoga in the front room. And oh yeah, you can cook in the kitchen. And there's a library.
Also, located between Mendocino (expensive) and Fort Bragg (getting there), you can't beat the price.
Beautiful setting with a beach, a lake, boardwalks, and wildlife including harbour seals and racoons. We stayed in site #2 in the first loop and it had a huge amount of space for tents. That loop had large sites in general. I was awakened at around 4am by a racket - made by 3 racoons raiding a nearby garbage pail. :-) They were screaming at each other, I guess about who had rights to the spoils... This campground is first come - first served and it's very popular. Get here early in the day!
There are countless hotels, inns and B&Bs along this part of the California Coast, but do yourself a favor and rent a house. You can find many of these available on the web. For less than the price of many of the other choices along the highway, you can get a complete home, with a couple of bedrooms, a couple of bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, deck and private grounds, right on the cliffs.
I stayed with friends in just such a house and it was absolutely perfect! We watched whales spouting from our deck while we sipped wine we bought earlier that day on a tour of the nearby Alexander Valley wine region.
Sort by: Most recent | Most helpful
Latest Mendocino hotel reviews