Mendocino Grove - Don't call it Glamping, its "Camping Made Comfy"
We just back from an incredible weekend at Mendocino Grove, and all I want to do is figure out when I can get back before the season ends (end of October). If you there is a spectrum with “real camping’ on one end and “glamping” on the other end, then Mendocino Grove is somewhere in the middle. For me it was the perfect mix of comfort and nature. I hate bugs and my husband is a mosquito magnet. I also hate being cold. Mendocino Grove provides HEATED mattresses and a real bed, inside a tightly zipped up and spacious canvas tent. Warm and cozy and NO bugs! Moreover since it is oceanside, there really aren’t that many bugs - at least we didn’t really see any. Mendocino Grove’s own hashtag is #campingmadecomfy which sounds a lot better than glamping, I think.
Here is what you need to know…
1) Reserve the ocean side tents - they are not that much more and they are away from the busier parts of the campground. Yes, the walk to the bathroom is a bit far, but the tranquility and the view makes up for it. The bed is heated, has a fluffy duvet and down pillows. White fluffy towels are also provided and it even has reading lamps with USB outlets to charge your phone. It’s so nice to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and a distant fog horn, and wake to the chirping and trills of birds! There are hot showers in individual cabins at the main bath house. Some tents are for 2 people while other tents are for a small family and cots can be added as well. If you are traveling with others, make sure to let them know when you make your reservation so your tents are side by side. We were 3 couples and our tents were all in the same area, which made mealtime and hanging out easy.
2) Plan for cold evenings - the fog can roll in, and the ocean breeze is cool. A down jacket, Ugg boots and knit caps are a must for when the sun goes down. And remember that everything will smell like smoke, so don’t bring anything that can't be washed. We were pretty lucky and didn't have fog. Supposedly the most sun is Spring and Fall, while summer can be foggy. We were so lucky to have a spectacular sunset that was mesmerizing.
3) Have fun cooking! You can bring all your cooking stuff from home, which is what we did. Or to make it easy on yourself, you can rent their stuff - the set includes everything you need: bbq tools, a set of enamel plates, bowls, coffee cups, paper towel, salt and pepper and olive oil. You can even get a s’mores kit.
4) Campfires: You will be able to buy wood there to make a campfire at a pit by your tent. They provide 2 comfortable chairs for each tent as well as a picnic table. We made our dinner directly on the fire and it was delicious. The Cast Iron skillet we brought from home was very handy. The first night we opted for the dinner they offer on Friday nights, but it was a bit underwhelming. I don’t think we would do that again. Instead I would probably make a batch of chili at home to bring and reheat the first night. The next day we went into the cute town of Mendocino and ate at the Mendocino Cafe for lunch (very much a hippie outpost with an interesting mix on the menu of Asian, Mexican, and vegan entrees) and went to the Mendocino Market for dinner supplies. We bought steak, sausage, seafood and veggies to grill. Dessert was peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and apple pie I had picked up from Nappalachia. For breakfast they do offer a continental breakfast and coffee in the common area but we made eggs and bacon on our second morning. One couple in our group brought a little gas burner and that with the cast iron pan was key.
5) Vino and Beverages: Bring your own wine (and your own Govino glasses and wine opener)- or stop on the way there in Healdsburg or at a winery in Anderson Valley to do a tasting and buy some wine. Husch and Navarro are the well known ones that are just an hour outside of Mendocino. If you want your wine chilled, make sure you have a cooler with ice (also nice for cocktails -I made Aperol Spritz!)
6) Activities: Yoga on Saturday morning at 10am is free and offered on the ocean view deck-it was fantastic. The nature hike with the in-house naturalist is offered both Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9am. I learned so much! Fro example, how to identify poison oak (and that only some people, not all, are allergic to it): “if it’s three, let it be” (as in three leaves) but “if it’s hairy, its a berry” (as in, it may have three leaves, but if the stem is hairy, then it is not poison oak, but some kind of wild berry.
7)The stars: If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, look up. The stars are insane!
8) Excursions: If you can manage to stay for 3 nights, you would have two full days for excursions and there is so much to do: rent an outrigger on the gorgeous 8 mile river (rentals are at Catch A Canoe right next to the campsite), walk the Mendocino Headlands, visit the Botanical Gardens, or choose a bluff hike.
9) Kids and Dogs: We were three couples but this would be an amazing family vacation - kids will be in heaven. Also, you can bring your doggo for a small fee! Dogs love it!