Combine the carefree, laid-back vibes of Southern California with the rugged, natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, then add a dash of New England's charm and history, and you'll have an idea of what makes Mendocino so special.
This is a place where couples can go wine tasting then spend the night at a hip road house in the Anderson Valley; where lovers of the wild can hike amongst towering redwoods and windy bluffs overlooking the tumultuous Pacific; where backpackers can get lost (but not really) on the Lost Coast. There are picture-perfect lighthouses, wildflowers galore, hidden surf breaks and streams teeming with fish. Scattered amongst the wilderness, you'll find charming villages full of artisans and artists. The food is fresh, delicious and as fancy as you want it to be. I could go on forever, but you'll just have to check it out for yourself.
This was a dream job. Visit Mendocino provided me with a flexible itinerary of destinations, but other than that, my assignment was to travel and shoot whatever caught my eye. I ended up delivering nearly 300 edited images that captured the quirky beauty of this verdant, little land by the sea. Not only did Visit Mendocino end up with some gorgeous shots, they now have a nice haul of visual assets to use across their digital and print properties. All-in-all, it was a frenetic but awesome gig for me, resulting in an outstanding end product and superb value for Visit Mendocino.
I invite you to retrace my journey. The slideshows and images you'll find below appear divided by day in the order of my trip. Enjoy the photos until you can no longer resist the urge to begin planning your own Mendocino getaway.
Day 1: Anderson Valley
After spending the night with friends in San Francisco, I woke up early, zipped over the Golden Gate Bridge and arrived in Mendocino County by late morning. My first destination was the Anderson Valley, a misty region of rolling hills packed with boutique wineries, scrumptious food and eclectic hotels. There are plenty of hikes and sights to see, but first and foremost, the Anderson Valley is a place where good, old-fashioned chillin' is in vogue.
Consider coming here for a more intimate experience than you might find in the heralded (but also more crowded) Sonoma and Napa wine countries. I'd recommend strolling amongst the orchards and snagging some artisan products (like jam and cider) at Philo Apple Farm. There are a number of amazing wineries up and down the valley, including Phillips Hill, where I photographed the antique apple crates in the above image. And if you're looking for an out-of-the-ordinary (but still posh) lodging experience, you must visit the Boonville Hotel, a quirky road house and restaurant you'll want to hole up in forever. Psst -- there's some great food nearby as well.
Day 2: Ukiah
Sitting right off The 101, Ukiah is a great place to begin your Mendocino adventure -- but don't overlook this