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David H. Collier in nature, picture

Sweet Mendocino Escape at Little River Inn

Posted by David H. Collier on January 16, 2018
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  • the view from the porch at the Little River Inn in Mendocino, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Just south of Mendocino, the Little River flows into the Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area, which can be seen from the front porch of the Little River Inn. This view is also what you’ll see if you get a window seat at the inn’s restaurant or stay in one of the many ocean view rooms. I was there in late September and had beautiful weather for my entire stay.
  • three slices of the billionare's bacon at the Little River Inn Restaurant, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Chef Marc Dym of the Little River Inn Restaurant prepared an amazing assortment of dishes for me to photograph including this succulent pork belly “billionaire’s bacon,” sourced locally. I don’t always get to taste the dishes that are brought out for me to photograph, but I’m definitely glad I got to sample this one. I even ordered it again for dinner that night.
  • the Alaska halibut dish with risotto and asparagus at the Little River Inn Restaurant, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Alaskan halibut pan-seared with chanterelle cream over risotto with grilled asparagus, served at the Little River Inn Restaurant. While capturing these dinner items, I met Cally Dym, a fifth-generation innkeeper here. She told me stories of the inn’s history as a logging mill and of visitors such as James Dean. I was struck by the warmth and hospitality of everyone I ran into during my visit to Mendocino, especially at the Little River Inn.
  • the confit pork osso bucco from the Little River Inn Restaurant, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Another main dish from the Little River Inn Restaurant: Confit pork "osso bucco" (slow-braised pork shank) served over soft polenta with fennel marinara sauce and broccoli.
  • an outrigger glides along the Big River just south of Mendocino, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Mendocino’s Big River, less than three miles north of the Little River Inn, has a spectacular estuary that is full of life and color. It was a pleasure to photograph from a redwood outrigger canoe provided by Catch a Canoe.
  • the Big River where it flows into Mendocino Bay, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    The Big River flows into Mendocino Bay just south of town.
  • an aerial shot of the clear waters of the Big River Estuary, south of Mendocino, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Flying high above the Big River Estuary State Marine Conservation Area as a redwood outrigger glides by.
  • looking east down the Big River Estuary, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    Looking east, the Big River Estuary can extend miles up into the watershed depending on the season. That means lots of space to paddle.
  • on one of Catch a Canoe's redwood outriggers, picture
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    Photo: David H. Collier
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    A rider’s eye view on one of Catch a Canoe’s redwood outriggers so stable I never once worried about my expensive gear falling into the water.

On assignment for a recent Via feature, I found myself three hours north of the Bay Area at the Little River Inn in Mendocino. Just south of town, past Van Damme State Park, the quaint inn is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, and the views are as gorgeous as you might imagine.

Once inside, I was greeted by friendly front-desk staff and directed to my nearby room. Part of the inn's original building, the room was quite comfortable if a bit dated. I did find myself wondering about newer accommodations, but whatever my room lacked in luxury, the Little River Inn made up for in hospitality. (The restaurant's addictive billionaire's bacon didn't hurt either.) In fact, I was particularly struck by the warmth of everyone I met both at the inn and in town—and that's saying a lot for a frequent traveler.

Check out the gallery above to see more from my Mendocino visit.