Family Travel: Little River
First stop: Van Damme, a state park distinguished by a flat, fern canyon trail with foliage so lush you feel like an explorer in the tropics. It includes the Pygmy Forest, a grove of full-grown trees only several feet tall in a century-old forest.
Van Damme is one of 17 state parks in the region, all so close that you can cover several in one day (mendoparks.mcn.org).
While you’re there, go to the west parking lot and sign up for a kayaking tour through sea caves with Kayak Mendocino (kayakmendocino.com). No experience is necessary; the company provides wetsuits, life jackets and helmets. Rates begin at $50 per person.
Animal-loving families can go llama trekking in Mendocino (mendocino.com). Bring your own lunch and trek for $30. Kids from age 11 can experience hiking with a llama that will carry cameras, clothing or anything else you want it to tote.
Park yourselves at the Cottages at Little River Cove (cottagesatlittlerivercove.com), an enclave of nine cottages and a vacation rental, all with ocean views. The updated cottages feature gourmet kitchens, wi-fi and flat screen televisions for $189 and up. The vacation rental sleeps up to six people and starts at $169 per night.
For food, head three miles north to Mendocino for a variety of eateries at different budgets. Pick up yummy sandwiches and gourmet entrees at the Harvest Market Deli (harvestmarket.com).