Be transported to another world, where you’ll find exactly what you’ve been missing.
Hundreds of miles of hiking trails, endless unspoiled beaches, verdant hills, and secluded lakes await you in Mendocino County. Here you can easily find solitude and beauty around every bend, and escape from the everyday grind of the outside world.
Mendocino County is also home to many one-of-a-kind experiences, beloved by visitors old and new. Whether it’s giraffes galloping along the Pacific Ocean’s edge, a tree so large you can drive your car through it, or one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the United States, every day brings a new discovery and new memories that will transport you for a lifetime.
Mendocino County is one of the most picturesque areas in the state of California. Its terrain includes rolling, vineyard-covered hills, redwood forests, rugged mountains and a breathtaking coastline. Yes all that in one county which cover 3878 square miles!
Mendocino County is known as America’s Greenest Wine Region and is as famous for its untamed beauty, wide open spaces and earth-friendly farming and ranching as it is for the wines produced in its diverse soils and microclimates. We offer packages to allow you to discover our secrets firsthand!
Willits is proud to be called the “Gateway to Wine Country” going South – because once you head south on Hwy 101 you will drive through Mendocino County’s Wine County from Redwood Valley to Hopland. There are so many unique wineries, great people to meet and award winning wines! We will be happy to point out our favorites!
Willits is also called the “Gateway to the Redwoods” as you drive North on Hwy 101 – you won’t want to miss Confusion Hill, the Drive-Thru-Tree and the “Avenue of the Giants.”
And Willits is called the “Heart of Mendocino County” because of its centralized location within our county. It is an ideal place from which to take day trips in all directions; North to the majestic “Avenue of the Giants” a 31 mile drive through some of the largest and oldest Redwoods, West to the gorgeous Mendocino Coast and South to many award winning Wineries and Lakes.
Mendocino County and Willits has several northern California casinos – one right here in Willits, one just north of us and a couple South of us!
The Skunk Train
All Aboard! Journey on this historic 129-year-old rail line amongst towering old-growth redwood trees, over wooden trestle bridges, and through majestic stone tunnels. Lucky travelers might spot osprey, blue herons, and egrets as the train passes alongside the Pudding Creek Estuary, before diving into the redwood forest and seeing some of the tallest trees on the planet. Trains depart from Fort Bragg and Willits, so be sure to check the Skunk Train calendar when planning your trip.
If you are visiting during the holiday season, be sure not to miss a ride on the Christmas Train. Riders will be treated to hot beverages served by elves, carolers making their way through the train, and a surprise visit from Santa!
Mendocino County Museum
The Mendocino County Museum in Willits is not your average regional museum. The galleries provide a dynamic experience of local history that include insights into the logging industry, local rural life, Native American culture and even a glimpse of the 1960’s Hippie culture. Museum partner Roots of Motive Power collects and restores trains and unique logging equipment. Its attached one mile track is often open to show off the working trains. For a truly unmatched experience, attend the Museum’s Steampunk event in August, the Kinetic Carnivale and Handcar races. The Museum is open Wed-Sunday 10 am to 4:30 PM.
Ridgewood Ranch- Home of Seabiscuit
Just south of Willits sits the 5,000 acre Ridgewood Ranch, home and resting place of champion Throughbred racehorse Seabiscuit. Dubbed the “small racehorse with a great heart,” Seabiscuit was the international horse racing superstar known for his underdog win over War Admiral in 1938. Seabiscuit was later retired to Ridgewood Ranch where he sired over 100 foals.
The Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation leads tours of Seabiscuit’s stud and mare barns, the historic Craftsman-style 1905 ranch house and introduces visitors to the champion’s descendants the “Lil’Biscuits” Tours are offerd every first and third Saturday June-October by reservation.
Since 1949 Confusion Hill has been astounding families with its mysterious attractions. Stand in the world-famous Gravity House, where everything begins to feel topsy-turvy and water flows uphill, marvel at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not World’s Tallest Chainsaw Carving, and take a ride on a narrow-gauge miniature railroad through the redwoods on a tour of the area’s logging industry.
Confusion Hill is a throwback to the golden age of American travel, and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time as you explore its many wonders. An on-site gift shop provides unique sourvenirs, including hand-crafted redwood curios like small carvings, redwood burls and more!
Chandelier Drive Thru Tree
Mendocino County is home to some of the tallest trees in the world – massive, ancient giants which reach more than 300 feet into the sky. There are many amazing ways to experience these immortals-hiking through protected groves, kayaking up tranquil estuaries lined on either side, and even riding an historic train. But one of the most unique ways to get a feel for the immensity of the redwoods is found in the north county, just outside the town of Leggett and minutes from Confusion Hill.
The Chandelier Drive Thru Tree was first carved in the 1930’s, and has flourished ever since. The opening is large enough for most cards, and hundreds of visitors flock here every day to pass through the mouth of a living piece of history-a tree more than 2,200 year old!
City of 10,000 Buddhas
Just outside the city of Ukiah, a giant golden arch stands, welcoming people to one of North America’s oldest Zen monasteries. The City of 10,000 Buddhas was founded by Master Hua as a place for monks and nuns to study, meditate and pursue enlightenment, and is open to visitors seven days a week.
After checking in at the front office, wander the grounds amidst brightly-plumed peacocks. Make sure to visit the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas, where thousands of tiny golden statues of the Buddha gaze down on meditating monks and nuns. For lunch, consider the vegetarian cafe on the premises. For those who want to delve more deeply into the experience, retreats are offered throughout the year.
Grace Hudson Museum
At the end of the 19th century, artist Grace Hudson began a lifelong pursuit – documenting the local Pomo people in more than 650 stunning oil paintings. When she and her husband built a new home in the Ukiah Valley, they dubbed it the Sun House, after the Hopi sun deity.
Nearly a century later, Grace Hudson’s Sun House is a vibrant Museum located in Ukiah, housing not only Grace’s work, but the photographs of her father and tens of thousands of other Native American artifacts. A visit to the museum is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with the local history of Mendocino County, and to discover some of the amazing craft that has its home in the area.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Stroll through one of California’s most beautiful seaside botanical gardens, and enjoy a colorful slendor any time of year. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg are best known for their collection of tender species rhododendrons – fragrant, fragile rhododendrons that thrive only in the cloud forests of the Himalayas and a narrow band of the California coast.
Bird watchers also flock to the botanical gardens, which have become a haven to more than 150 species of birds – including rarities like the red-breasted nuthatch and ash-throated flycatcher.
How many places in the world can you find a Greater Kudu backlit by the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean? Or a Rothschild Giraffe with towering redwood trees in the background? As far as we know, only one! B.Bryan Perserve in Point Arena is a preserve for African hoofstock, open by appointment for tours. While touring the property, you’ll have a chance to see all three species of zebra on the planet, kudu, antelope, and playful giraffe. If you’re lucky, you might be able to feed a giraffe yourself-but watch their long blue tongues, they’ll try to steal a kiss!