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Mendocino Airport Choices
Airports serving Mendocino
This page gives you the pros and cons of the various airports that serve the Mendocino coast, including Fort Bragg, as well as the redwood park area, to help you decide which is best for you.
Other than Little River Airport for small private planes—no commercial service—the immediate Mendocino area has no airports.
You’ll have to drive in from another city or take a series of local buses to reach the Mendocino coast.
Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport
Yes, that’s Charles Schultz in the airport name, as in Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Charles Schultz lived and worked in Santa Rosa and nearby Sebastopol for more than 30 years.
The nearest airport to Mendocino with commercial service is Santa Rosa’s
This is just west of U.S. Highway 101 along Airport Boulevard 4 miles north of Santa Rosa. You’ll reach Mendocino in around 2 hours.
Although most convenient to Mendocino, Sonoma County Airport suffers from few commercial flights, just 3 rental car choices, and lack of airline competition, which can lead to higher fares.
Alaska Airlines owned Horizon Air serves Sonoma nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX), Portland, and Seattle. Delta may start service soon.
Alternative Mendocino airports
Most travelers reach Mendocino from San Francisco International, Oakland International, and Sacramento Airports. These offer numerous airline and car rental choices.
All are around 3 and ½ hours from the towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg.
You may also use Arcata/Eureka Airport described below.
Although many traverlers overlook it when traveling to the Mendocino coast, Sacramento International Airport enjoys important advantages.
Unlike Oakland or San Francisco airports, you don’t have to drive through urban areas to reach Mendocino. You don’t even drive into Sacramento.
That means no worries about rush hour congestion.
With a metro area population now nearing 2 million people, Sacramento enjoys extensive air service, including budget airlines JetBlue and Southwest, which help keep the fares of all airlines down.
San Francisco International
With Southwest again serving “SFO,” as well as budget airlines AirTran and Frontier, San Francisco no longer richly deserves its higher fare reputation compared to Oakland.
Although you’ll face some stop and go driving through San Francisco to access Mendocino, you may agree that that’s made up for by a scenic route through Golden Gate Park and over the Golden Gate Bridge.
See "Reaching Marin County from SFO" for directions to the Golden Gate Bridge from SFO and then "Directions to Mendocino Coast" to reach Mendocino from there. Note that both highways 1 and 101 use the Golden Gate Bridge to cross over into Marin County from San Francisco.
Oakland International gives you all freeway access to U.S. Highway 101 in Marin County on your way to Mendocino. From there, you can follow one of the routes described in "Directions to Mendocino Coast."
You may face congestion, though.
On weekday mornings, you’ll battle the rush hour going toward San Francisco, even though you’re not entering the city. On weekend afternoons, you’ll battle the rush from San Francisco on other portions of your drive.
Best to avoid these times.
See "Oakland Airport to Marin County" for directions from Oakland Airport to Highway 101 in Marin County and then "Directions to Mendocino Coast" to reach Mendocino from there. Note that both highways 1 and 101 use the Golden Gate Bridge to cross over into Marin County from San Francisco.
The Arcata/Eureka Airport (ACV) offers a very scenic alternative to reach Mendocino.
Located some 30 minutes from Redwood National Park, the Arcata and Eureka airport gives easy access to awesome local sightseeing.
Moreover, taking just 3 hours, you’ll reach the Mendocino coast more quickly from this airport than from the Bay Area or Sacramento.
However, that would be foolish, as you would miss one of the most scenic drives in the world, the Avenue of the Giants, which is described in the link.
Even with more competition than the Sonoma Airport, “ACV” suffers from traditionally high airfares. However, expect this to improve somewhat when Delta starts service during June, 2008. Unfortunately, you may find rental car prices nearly twice as expensive than they are at San Francisco International.
However, the Arcata/Eureka Airport offers a wonderfully scenic gateway to Mendocino and may be worth the possible extra cost.
You may enjoy our scenic drive that includes Mendocino:
Part 1: Redwood and Mendocino scenic drive introduction,