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An enlightening weekend in Mendocino's romantic seaside surroundings

A weekend wedding on the Mendocino headlands overlooking the Pacific Ocean was the ideal occasion to celebrate newlyweds Danny and Amanda, as well as give me an opportunity to enjoy the scenic town of Mendocino, Calif. Fellow wedding celebrants Edna and Ray Morales stayed in the room next door at our hotel and joined me during our free time to explore the charming, historic hamlet filled with buildings that reflect the heritage of the New England lumbermen who founded it in the mid-1800s. The village center — with shops, galleries, indie bookstores and eateries — is very strollable. Fun fact: Mendocino doubled as a coastal town in Maine in the 1980s and '90s TV show "Murder, She Wrote." The tab: I spent about $240 (excluding taxes and fees) for two nights at the Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites, and about $40 for meals.

The bed

The Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites (45080 Main St.; [707] 937-0511, www.mendocinohotel.com) is well-positioned for seaside cliff walks as well as exploring the village. This Victorian-era charmer dates from 1878 and has an attractive Old World lobby with an inviting fireplace as well as a bar, restaurant and casual bistro. Accommodations are a mixed bag, ranging from cramped rooms with shared bathrooms in the hotel proper to high-end suites with marble bathrooms and fireplaces in the gardens behind the hotel. Our midrange rooms had small bathrooms and a shared balcony. The Morales' room had a dark color scheme, while mine was pretty in pink but showed some wear: Some finishes were faded, there was a crack in the bathroom floor tile as well as one in the pedestal sink. Be prepared to schlep your luggage up the stairs; there's no elevator.

The meal

With a rehearsal dinner and wedding to attend, our in-town meals were breakfasts. Flow Restaurant & Lounge (45040 Main St.; [707] 937-3569, www.mendocinoflow.com) uses sustainable local ingredients and is upstairs in one of the many water towers you'll see around town. Ray ordered the huevos rancheros and happily pronounced that they were good as well as authentic. Edna had a spinach omelet with jalapeño chili sauce, and I opted for the tamer scrambled eggs with a polenta cake and scallion biscuit. Overall, the great food matched the great view. The morning after the wedding called for hearty fare: eggs, waffles, fruit and toast at our hotel bistro.

The find

Romance was in the air at Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park (45300 Light House Road; [707] 937-6122, www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22276) the day Danny and Amanda exchanged vows. But you don't have to get married to enjoy the large park on bluffs overlooking the Pacific. It's a half-mile walk from the parking area to the light station buildings, which include the historic lighthouse, a working light station whose original Chance Brothers Fresnel lens still sends out a radiant, sweeping beam. The lighthouse and museum exhibits are open to the public during the day. Best of all, if you want to experience the park overnight, there are two houses and cottages used as vacation rentals.

The lesson learned

Dress in layers. I expected cool weather in October so I dressed warmly for the wedding and was surprised by how hot it was that day. If you want the back story on how Mendocino began, visit the Ford House (45035 Main St.; [707] 937-5397, www.lat.ms/1kNvrM6) and the Kelley House (45007 Albion St.; [707] 937-5791, www.kelleyhousemuseum.org).

travel@latimes.com

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on January 17, 2016, in the Features section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "WEEKEND ESCAPE | MENDOCINO, CALIF. - Romantic and enlightening" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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