The Little River Inn is just what you are looking for if you need a romantic weekend getaway to the coast with your wife, but want to sneak in a quick round of golf.
What would it hurt if you could get out, play 9 holes and be back to your room just as your wife is getting ready for the day’s adventure? Sound good? Then look into a trip to the dream of a coastal resort just a couple miles south of Mendocino on Highway 1.
Three hours north of San Francisco, the Little River Inn offers everything you could want for a retreat. Sensational views, good food and wine, and relaxation await.
Ole Hervilla opened the Inn in 1939 and the property unfolds around a wonderful Victorian that was built in 1857 on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The resort carries the charm of place from long ago, but with all the modern conveniences. Most impressive is that the Inn has stayed in the family the entire time with current Innkeeper Cally Dym proudly proclaiming that she is a fifth-generation innkeeper.
LODGING: There are 66 guest rooms on the property, 63 of which have ocean views. We stayed in a wonderful, second floor room with a nice deck that provided a stunning ocean view.
Two of my favorite times of the day on the coast are seeing the early morning ocean and the calm that comes with it and, of course, the sunset. You have the best of both worlds at the Little River Inn.
I could have sat on the deck throughout the day, taking in the sights and smell of the ocean, enjoying a good book and nice glass of Pinot Noir from the nearby Anderson Valley.
Our room also had a fireplace, sitting area and a huge bathroom that featured a
Jacuzzi. The mini-fridge and the coffee maker were much appreciated touches.
GOLF: The 9-hole track plays as 18 holes with different tees for each nine (and there are two holes with two greens. It is not going to be confused with other California coastal resort courses, but it is a fun round in a beautiful setting as the course is tucked into the hills and redwoods. I have to admit I have never been a fan of playing a 9-hole course twice to make 18, but most tees change locations plus the two holes featuring two greens.
On the 7th and 16th holes the difference in the two greens is 141-yard par 3 on No. 7 and a 203-yard, par 3 on the 16th.
The 9th and 18th are the other hole with two greens. Both have elevated tees hitting down toward the lodging and ocean. The 9th is a 177-yard, par 3 and the 18th is a 273-yard, short par 4, but with the green set back and protected by bunkers and trees, it is a tough little finishing hole
The course plays 5,488 yards, but the heavy coastal air adds some distance to the course. The course is wonderful for the entire family to play as the woman/junior tees are forward enough to make the course very playable.
I played 9 holes in a little over one hour and walked back into our room just as planned – my wife was up and getting ready for the day. Perfect.
DINING: There are two dining options – Ole’s Whale Watch Bar and the Main Dining Room. Ole’s is informal, relaxed dining in a small, but charming bar area.
If you are seated at the bar, you have a great ocean view and the chance to see some migrating whales. I had the Flat Iron steak sandwich and my wife the Fish and Chips. Both were very good and offered the perfect touch to pub dining.
The next night we gave the Main Dining room a test run and loved the difference in dining atmosphere. Instead of the hustle and bustle of a bar area, the Main Dining room offers views of the immaculate garden and much more quaint dining experience.
I went with the Alaska Halibut which was prepared to perfection by Executive Chef Marc Dym. My wife, following the seafood theme since we were on the coast, opting for the Pinenut Crusted Salmon and was equally pleased.
The Main Dining room is also opened for breakfast each day and if you so choose to start your day there, I highly recommend Ole’s Swedish Hot Cakes! A tremendous way to get fueled for your adventure!
OTHER AMENITIES: There is a spa that is open seven days a week and offers pretty much everything you would need from massages to facials at reasonable prices. There are two lighted tennis courts that are free for guests. Lessons are also available.
The Inn is also a great place to have a wedding and the in-house wedding coordinator can put together a package for 20-200 guests!
One other event I saw being planned is the ABCs of Abalone, taking advantage of the Abalone-rich environment in the waters by the Inn. The event takes place in June and packages include lodging, two days of diving with all the necessary equipment, welcome reception and a communal dinner after the hunt.
OVERALL: You could spend your time sitting on your deck, alternating watching the ocean or reading a book and it would be a wonderful time. But consider the town of Mendocino is a short drive away and the biking, hiking, kayaking options are abundant all around you and the Little River Inn is a tremendous vacation destination. I give my highest recommendation to the Inn as it adds an additional way to spend a weekend at a coastal resort.
By Dennis Miller