Mendocino sits on a bluff high above the Pacific Ocean, so unchanged since the 1800s that the entire place is a National Historic District. Green and lush as the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit, this town practically invented farm-to-table cuisine. The same families have been fishing, crabbing, growing grapes and foraging for mushrooms in Mendocino’s fertile soil for over 150 years. It was once a booming center of the logging industry — its redwoods rebuilt San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake — but the area quickly became sleepy after logging ended. As a result, it is largely untouched by the modern world.
Northern California offers many other tourist destinations, from the nearby Napa and Sonoma wine countries to Big Sur and Carmel south of San Francisco. But those places are crowded, expensive, and frankly, done-to-death. Mendocino is off the beaten path — a rare combination of rural and urbane. My husband Christopher and I, recently married, drove there last December for our “mini-moon.” Since Christopher has cerebral palsy, uses a forearm crutch to walk and is no longer able to climb stairs, we were more than a little curiou