Road Trip: Mendocino


By Aaron Hicklin

Day Three: Mendocino to San Francisco

Morning: Take a kayak, available at Stanford Inn, up the mouth of the Big River or out into the crescent of Mendocino Bay, also a popular surfing spot. Alternatively, explore the sea caves from Van Damme State Park (three miles south of Mendocino on Highway 1, 707-937-5804) as part of a guided tour (Kayak Mendocino, in the west parking lot of Van Damme State Park, 707-964-7480). Satiate your appetite with Sunday brunch at the Little River Inn (7751 N. Hwy. 1, Little River, 888-466-5683), where third-generation manager Kelly will happily show you room 102, where James Dean slept while filming East of Eden. (He was not much liked, it seems; Ole Hervilla, the inn's founder, famously booted him from the bar for putting his legs on the table. Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman, who stayed there during filming of Johnny Belinda in 1947, were rather more welcome: Wyman even tended the bar to break up the monotony of acting.)

Afternoon: Drive back to San Francisco via the Pacific Highway if you have the stamina for the winding coastal road. It takes a good two hours longer than the outward journey but gives you the opportunity to drive through Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock filmed The Birds.

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