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California Dreaming at Little River Inn

December 4, 2020

Little River Inn Exterior - Photo by Aubrie Pick

Riley Contributor Beth Hoke shares details of the exquisite Little River Inn, a delightfully classy clifftop resort on California’s Mendocino coast

For more than 80 years, the Little River Inn has welcomed guest to ‘the edge of the world’.

 Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, this award-winning resort is just two miles south of Mendocino on Californias famed Highway One. Guests arriving at Little River Inn check in at a Victorian-style house up the hill from the main entrance to the property. Built by Silas Coombs and later turned into an inn by the owner’s grandfather, the house is a classic Queen Anne that will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time.

Aerial View of Little River Inn - Photo by Brendan McGuigan
The dramatic coastal setting of the Little River Inn in Mendocino (Photo: Brendan McGuigan)

But make no mistake about it, the Little River Inn is not stuck in the past. Its 65 rooms (64 of which have a view of the ocean) are filled with modern amenities that include everything from Keurig coffee makers to complimentary in-room Wi-Fi. Select rooms are equipped with steam showers and Jacuzzis for a relaxing, spa-like experience.


Superlative Food & Drink Experiences at Little River Inn


And the dinner menu at the on-site restaurant is anything but old-fashioned. Executive Chef Marc Dym has elevated coastal cuisine with inventive flavors and locally sourced ingredients. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are clearly marked on the menu, which includes a selection of snacks, bar favorites, small and large plates, and even a four-course prix fixe option. The wine list is dedicated to California blends and varietals, and even the beer selection favors those from local breweries.

Dining at the Little River Inn - Photo by Aubrie Pick copy
Fine is a treat thanks to the view… and Executive Chef Marc Dym (Photo, and main feature photo above: Aubrie Pick)

Adjacent to the dining room is Ole’s Whale Watch Bar. Named for Ole Hervilla, the original stogie-smoking, tall tale-telling bartender and innkeeper, the bar has a designated deck for after-dinner cigars and a full range of creative cocktails. It also boasts a panoramic view of the Pacific and a friendly atmosphere that draws in local residents as well as guests of the resort.


Fun Things to Do at Little River Inn


 Ole is also the architect of the property’s challenging 9-hole golf course – surprisingly, the only one on the Mendocino Coast. The course is certified by Audubon International as a wildlife sanctuary and it’s not uncommon to see black-tailed deer stroll across the fairways.

 A different kind of sanctuary, the club house has a food and beverage service and a pro shop stocked with branded merchandise. Left your clubs at home but want to practice your swing at the driving range or sink putts on the practice green? Complimentary club rentals and discounted green fees are some of the many thoughtful amenities available to guests of the inn.

Looking Down the Little River Inn Golf Course Towards Ocean - Photo by Brendan McGuigan
The golf course at Little River Inn, complete with ocean views (Photo by Brendan McGuigan)

 Guests can also borrow tennis racquets for a match on the lighted championship tennis courts or book a private lesson with a pro.

Other area activities include hiking the Fern Canyon Trail at the state park adjacent to the property, sea kayaking in the secluded bay at the foot of the cliff, or watching the sunset at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.


Romantic Retreats and Singles Getaways


Sound romantic? The opportunities for romance at the Little River Inn are endless. Impress your date with one of the resort’s packages that include a two-night stay in an ocean view room, a fruit and cheese plate, and a bottle of NV Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling Wine to enjoy in front of the fireplace. The inn even offers full-service elopement and wedding packages.

Enjoying a Glass on Wine on the Deck of Traditional Ocean View Room - Photo by Aubrie Pick
Enjoy a glass of local wine while taking in the sea air… and the incredible views from your balcony (Photo: Aubrie Pick)

Of course, the inn isn’t just for couples. Solo travelers can enjoy a relaxing breakfast in bed followed by pampering treatments at the salon and day spa. Families can get away for the weekend and spend time together exploring the area on their own, or book a weeklong Distance Learning Package. The package includes guidebooks and other learning materials, a private lesson with a local naturalist, a safari tour at the B Bryan Preserve, and an evening stargazing session complete with hot chocolate.

Bring Your Furry Friends


 The Little River Inn understands that Fido is a member of the family, too. The resort has designated pet-friendly rooms and provides guests with dog treats and water bowls.

 The inn is also ideal for executive retreats. You can close the deal over a friendly game of golf or get down to business in the conference room. Complimentary wireless internet, a guest computer and printer, and a fax machine are available. A free shuttle service is provided for executives flying into the Little River Airport.

Old Favorite Wood Fireplace Room at Little River Inn - Photo by Brendan McGuigan
The 80-plus year-old Little River Inn offers comfy, cosy – and classy – stays on California’s rugged Mendocino coast (Photo: Brendan McGuigan)

 No matter what your reason is for staying at the Little River Inn, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere, thoughtful amenities, world-class cuisine, and a view to die for!

 To learn more about what is definitely one of the best places to stay in Mendocino, visit the Little River Inn’s website at

Riley Recommends: For reviews, rates, and reservations, check out our preferred accommodation partner at Little River Inn.




Contributor Beth Hoke is freelance travel and lifestyles writer.

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