Mendocino Headlands State Park surrounds Mendocino on three sides between SR 1 and the ocean. The southern section features bluffs rising abruptly from a rocky shoreline up to a rugged, windswept promontory threaded with walking trails. These headlands not only offer panoramic ocean views but an opportunity to spot gray whales during their winter migration between Alaska and Mexico's Baja Peninsula. The big creatures head south in December and make the return trip north between February and April.
A flight of stone steps leads down to Portuguese Beach, a secluded little spot for picnicking and sunbathing during low tide. Hiking and fishing are popular day-use activities.
Note: The headlands in the southern portion of the park have sheer drop-offs, and it can be quite windy at times; stick to the marked trails and stay away from the bluff edges.