Mendocino Whale Festival

First weekend in March

Explore the beautiful village of Mendocino where there are plenty of whales to view from the surrounding Mendocino Headlands State Park. Chowder, Beer and Wine Tasting options festoon pedestrian-friendly lanes, while you explore art exhibits, local shops and Inns. Join MendoParks on Big River Beach for sandcastle building and more whale lore.

Ford House Museum and Visitor Center
Mendocino Headlands State Park

45035 Main Street, Mendocino Village
Open 11am to 4pm daily, 707.937.5397

Ford House March Exhibit: Whale Tales: Exhibit featuring bones from a Gray Whale, information regarding the gray whale migration, and a whale quiz. Ask our knowledgeable docents for tips on when and where to watch for whales, and to answer questions regarding gray whale natural history.

Whale Walks: Saturday 11:30 am and 2:00 pm from the Ford House. Interpreter led Whale Walks around the Mendocino Headlands State Park. Learn about the gray whale migration and sight your own whales! We’ll have a few binoculars available to loan.  Pets on leash welcome - $5 suggested donation to MendoParks.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse State Park: Saturday and Sunday from 10am–4pm. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to tour the Lantern Room and the beautifully restored and operational 3rd order Fresnel lens. More information at PointCabrillo.org.

Sandcastle Building Contest: Saturday 1 pm – 3 pm on the river side of Big River Beach State Park.  Prizes for best kid/family and best adult sand structures.  Entrance is free, please bring your own equipment.  Limited number of spaces- register day of or call Little River Inn at 707-937-5942.  Rain cancels. 

More Whale Lore: Saturday 1 pm – 3 pm on the river side of Big River Beach.  Visit the MendoParks and State Parks booth for family fun and whale knowledge. 

Chowder and Beer Tasting: Saturday 11 am – 1 pm at Crown Hall, 45285 Ukiah Street. Chowder tickets are $10 and beer tickets are $5, available online at MendoWhale.com, at the Mendocino Coast Chamber office or at the door. ID required.

Wine Tasting: Saturday 1 pm – 4 pm beginning at the Ford House.  Delicious local wines poured at various locations throughout the Mendocino Village. Advance tickets $35 at MendoWhale.com or $40 at the Ford House (ID required).  The Ford House is proud to host Graziano Family of Wines and Thanksgiving Coffee. 

Coffee Tasting: Saturday 11 am – 3:30 pm. Free Thanksgiving Coffee tasting on the Ford House front porch.


Little River Whale Festival

Second weekend in March

The annual Little River Whale Festival offers lodging specials at inns and B&Bs throughout the seaside town of Little River, CA, a Bloody Mary Competition, family fun activities, nature adventures and Passport Prizes all rolled into one weekend!

Be sure to stop by the Van Damme State Park and Visitor Center, located along Hwy 1 and three miles south of Mendocino. The visitor center will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10-3 p.m.  Volunteer park hosts will share the history and environment of our park, which features coastal Spring Ranch trails, a lush Fern Canyon, a scenic riparian trail system, a Pygmy Forest interpretive walk of miniature mature trees.

More events posted on the festival map at g.co/maps/yae5b 

Erin Brazil and Friends Concert: Friday 7:30 in the Abalone Room at Little River Inn, 7901 North Highway One.  Of vintage swing Brazillionaires fame, check out Erin at this intimate acoustic gig. Tickets are $20 in advance BUY TICKETS or $30 at the door.

Kayak Mendocino Sea Cave Tour: Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am and 2 pm at Van Damme State Park Beach.  Guided tour through sea caves to meet our local harbor seals, sea stars, algae and shorebirds.  Sea kayaking is easier than you think!  $60 person- call Craig to make reservations at 707-813-7117.

Sea Urchin Removal: Saturday and Sunday all day at Van Damme State Park Beach.  Volunteer divers are rounding up the purple urchin in an effort to restore balance to our kelp beds.  You can watch as they come in, ask questions, and help smash the urchins.

Mendocino Eco Artists Exhibit: Friday, Saturday and Sunday Little River Inn Parlor, 7901 North Highway One.  Local artists show off their portrayals of the historic Spring Ranch Barns.  Free entrance, art sale proceeds benefit MendoParks. Mendo Eco Artists

Whale Walk: Saturday 10 am at the blue flags across from Gordon Lane on Highway One. A docent led two-hour tour of the Spring Ranch State Park Headlands searching for pelagic cormorants, seaside daisies and, of course, whales! We’ll have a few binoculars available to loan.  Pets on leash welcome- suggested $5 donation to MendoParks. Heavy rain cancels.

Historic Barn Tour: Sunday 10:30 am at the blue flags at Spring Ranch Barns, parking at the Spring Ranch Estate on the east side of Highway One.  Join our interpreter for the only day these beautiful barns are open to the public!  Learn the history of Little River settlers and view the intricate wood work of these historic structures.  Suggested $5 donation to MendoParks. 

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Bloody Mary and Bacon Competition: Sunday high noon at the Abalone Room at Little River Inn, 7901 North Highway One. Be a judge at this inaugural MendoParks event where both locals and professional bartenders go head to head to claim the prize of Best Bloody Mary and Best Bacon with Bloody Marys.  Winners announced at 2 pm.  Judging tickets for 5-6 Bloody Marys are $30, BUY TICKETS now or at the door.  Two judging tickets per person max (ID required). 

Bloody Mary and Bacon Competitors: Please see detailed information below the Fort Bragg Weekend.


Fort Bragg Whale Festival

Third weekend in March

Enjoy chowder and microbrew tasting while visiting our local shops and inns, and whale watch from Pomo Bluffs in Fort Bragg, as well as from miles of beaches.

The fun continues at MacKerricher State Park, located three miles north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, which is an ideal location for watching the whale migration. A wheelchair accessible boardwalk allows access to the headlands of Laguna Point with stunning views of the coastline. Trained docents will present public whale walks with use of binoculars and a spotting scope to help visitors study whales and other fascinating marine and bird wildlife. 

You may also visit the rare, reconstructed Gray Whale Skeleton on permanent display near the visitor center and entry kiosk. Events are free of charge, for additional information call (707) 961-0471.

Friday Evening Talk: “What's Swimming Out There?: All About Whales”: Presented by David Alden: Join State Parks for this exciting lecture Friday 7pm at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 360 North Harrison Street. Refreshments, interactive activities and a raffle to take place at the time of the presentation- suggested $5 donation to MendoParks.

David specialized in environmental law as a partner with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco and as then a principal in his own law firm, and is a former Chair of the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section. In retirement, he volunteers his time as a Marine Science Docent in our local State Parks and is a Rescue Volunteer for The  Marine Mammal Center, helping rescue stranded marine mammals along the Mendocino coast.  He also performs regularly with the Americana music group All About Sally.

Ride Horses on the Beach: Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30, 11:30, 1:30 and 3:30 from Ricochet Ranch across from MacKerricher State Park.  Watch for whales from the saddle!  All rides by reservation, serving ages 6 and older, from first-timers to competitors.  Visit horse-vacation.com

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse State Park: Saturday and Sunday from 10am–4pm. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to tour the Lantern Room and the beautifully restored and operational 3rd order Fresnel lens. More information at PointCabrillo.org.

 Chowder and Beer Tasting: 11 am – 1 pm at the Mason Hall.  Taste local chowders and beer from North Coast Brewing Company.  Chowder tickets are $10 and beer tickets $5, available online at MendoWhale.com, at the Mendocino Coast Chamber office or at the door.  ID required.

Whale Festival and Family Event Including Arts, Crafts, Games & Educational Activities: Saturday 1 pm – 4 pm at MacKerricher State Park Campfire Center.  Learn all about gray whales in this interactive learning event. Visit our education stations to collect information and tokens so you can build your very own Badge of Knowledge. Play games, make art, listen to music and enjoy a free hot dog lunch (donations accepted).  Rain or shine- dress appropriately.

Whale Walk: Saturday 11 am at MacKerricher State Park Visitor Center.  Docents and State Parks Staff lead an informative overview of gray whales. The program starts at the MacKerricher State Park Visitor Center and proceeds to the whale skeleton before driving to Laguna Point for whale watching.  We’ll have some binoculars to loan- suggested $5 donation to MendoParks.  Rain or shine- dress appropriately.

Meet a Whale! Help preserve our whale skeleton: Sunday 1 pm- 3 pm at the MacKerricher Visitor Center.  Help us paint and preserve a life size whale skeleton!  Every year a fresh coat of paint is applied to our famous gray whale skeleton to help protect it from the elements. Bring a paint brush and wear your painting clothes!  Rain or heavy fog will cancel.


Bloody Mary and Bacon Competition

Competitors Information

There are two judging fields- professional bartenders and locals.  Professionals must be a current bartender from anywhere around the globe.  Locals must reside in Little River or Albion, or be guests of a Little River or Albion lodging or State Park.  Competitors must be 21 or over and follow safe service practices.

Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:

People’s Choice: Best Bloody Mary and Best Bacon

Professional Judges: Best Traditional Bloody Mary, Best Creative Bloody Mary, Best Use of Heat in a Bloody Mary, and Best Bacon and Bloody Mary Pairing (bacon and drink winners may be different).

Competition Rules:

Use the vodka (Deep Eddy) and glasses provided the day of the competition.  Each serving not to exceed ½ ounce of alcohol. 

Be ready to serve at noon.  Winners will be announced at 2 pm.

Bacon preparation must be done on site or in a commercial kitchen before the event.

Pre-registration required with Kate at info@calrc.com