Willits Travel Guide

Discover the natural and cultural attractions, outdoor activities, food and drink scene, local customs, and transportation options in Willits, California with this comprehensive travel guide.

Introduction to Willits

Nestled in Mendocino County, Willits is a charming city in North Coast, California, that offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and rich cultural heritage. Known for its breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and friendly locals, Willits is an ideal destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through all the must-see attractions, outdoor adventures, food and drink scene, local customs, and transportation options in Willits, to help you plan your perfect trip to this beautiful city.

List of Places to Visit in Willits

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Mendocino County Museum - With its fascinating exhibits, artifacts, and photographs showcasing the rich cultural history of Mendocino County, the Mendocino County Museum is a must-visit for history buffs. Highlights include exhibits on Native American history, the lumber industry, and the region’s scenic railways.

  • Roots of Motive Power - This unique museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of steam-powered logging equipment in Mendocino County. Visitors can admire the beautifully restored steam engines and other historic machinery, and learn about the important role they played in the region’s development.

  • The Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation - For horse racing enthusiasts, the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation offers an exciting glimpse into the life and legacy of the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit. Visitors can explore the historic ranch where Seabiscuit was trained, and learn about his remarkable comeback from injury to become a national icon.

Natural Attractions of Willits: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Californian Redwoods State Park - Just a short drive from Willits, the Californian Redwoods State Park is a natural wonderland, with towering trees, tranquil streams, and scenic hiking trails. Visitors can explore the park on foot, by bike, or by horseback, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

  • Lake Emily - This serene lake is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and picnicking, and offers visitors a chance to relax and unwind in the heart of nature. Surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills, Lake Emily is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon with family and friends.

  • Mendocino National Forest - With its rugged terrain, lush forests, and spectacular mountain vistas, the Mendocino National Forest is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can hike through the forest, go fishing in the streams, or simply enjoy the stunning views from one of the many lookout points.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Willits

Willits is a paradise for hikers and bikers, with a vast network of trails and paths that wind through the region’s scenic hills and forests. Some of the most popular routes include:

  • City of Ten Thousand Buddhas Trail - This scenic trail winds through the beautiful grounds of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, offering hikers a chance to explore Buddhist temples, shrines, and gardens.

  • Brooktrails Trail System - With its winding trails, stunning views, and easy-to-navigate route, the Brooktrails Trail System is a favorite among hikers and bikers alike. Visitors can choose from a range of trails to suit their ability and fitness level, and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.

Best Things to Do in Willits: Activities and Tours

  • Wine Tasting Tours - Mendocino County is renowned for its world-class wine, and Willits offers visitors a chance to explore some of the region’s most beautiful vineyards and wineries. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a curious novice, a wine tasting tour is a must-do activity in Willits.

  • Hot Air Balloon Rides - For a truly unforgettable experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the stunning landscapes of Willits. From high above, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city, the surrounding forests, and the majestic mountains in the distance.

Week-Long Itinerary for Willits

Day 1: Explore the Mendocino County Museum and learn about the region’s rich cultural history.

Day 2: Hike through Californian Redwoods State Park, and soak up the natural beauty of the surrounding forests.

Day 3: Take a wine tasting tour of some of the region’s best vineyards and wineries.

Day 4: Visit the Roots of Motive Power museum, and learn about the history of steam-powered logging in Mendocino County.

Day 5: Go fishing or kayaking at Lake Emily, and enjoy a relaxing day by the water.

Day 6: Take a hot air balloon ride over the stunning landscapes of Willits.

Day 7: Explore the scenic trails of the Brooktrails Trail System, and marvel at the beauty of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Food and Drink Scene of Willits

Must-Try Dishes

  • Mendocino Foraged Salad - This fresh and flavorful salad features locally sourced greens, fruits, and nuts, along with a variety of foraged mushrooms and wild herbs.

  • Grilled Salmon with Lemon Butter - This classic seafood dish is a favorite among locals, featuring fresh salmon grilled to perfection, and served with a tangy lemon butter sauce.

Local Beverages

  • Anderson Valley Brewing Company - This beloved local brewery has been serving up delicious craft beers for over 30 years, and is a must-visit for beer lovers.

  • Barra of Mendocino Winery - Located just a short drive from Willits, the Barra of Mendocino Winery offers visitors a chance to sample some of the region’s best wines, including their award-winning chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

Where to Stay in Willits: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Baechtel Creek Inn, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member - Located in the heart of Willits, the Baechtel Creek Inn offers comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and a convenient location near all the city’s top attractions.

  • The Old West Inn - With its rustic charm and cozy accommodations, The Old West Inn is a favorite among visitors to Willits. Located just a short drive from the city center, this charming inn offers easy access to all the region’s top sights and activities.

What to Buy in Willits: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Wild Mushroom Products - Mendocino County is known for its abundant supply of wild mushrooms, and visitors to Willits can bring home a variety of fresh or dried mushrooms, as well as mushroom-based products like hot sauces, seasonings, and teas.

  • Hand-Crafted Pottery - Willits is home to a thriving community of artists and craftsmen, and visitors can find a variety of beautiful, hand-crafted pottery pieces at local galleries and shops.

Local Culture and Customs of Willits

Willits is a friendly and welcoming city, with a strong sense of community and a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Visitors are encouraged to embrace the local customs and traditions, including the region’s love of outdoor activities, farm-to-table cuisine, and appreciation for the arts.

Best Time to Visit Willits

The best time to visit Willits depends on personal preferences and activities planned. In general, the summer months from June to September offer the warmest weather, while the fall season from October to November is perfect for outdoor activities and enjoying the stunning fall foliage. Winter temperatures can be chilly, but visitors can enjoy a range of winter sports and activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Willits


  • Respect the natural beauty of the region by keeping the trails clean and preserving the local wildlife habitats.

  • Try the local cuisine, including farm-to-table dishes and fresh seafood.


  • Litter or damage the natural environment.

  • Disturb the wildlife or engage in illegal hunting or fishing.

Safety and Health

Safety in Willits

Willits is generally a safe and welcoming city, but visitors should take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their belongings. It’s advisable to avoid walking alone at night in dimly lit areas and to keep valuables securely stored in hotel rooms or other safe locations.

Health in Willits

Willits has a range of medical facilities, including general practitioners, specialized clinics, and emergency rooms, for visitors needing medical attention. It’s advisable to obtain travel insurance before visiting, and to bring any necessary medications or health supplies.

Getting to Willits: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Willits

The nearest airport to Willits is the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, located approximately 64 miles away. Other options include the San Francisco International Airport, approximately 132 miles away, and the Oakland International Airport, approximately 150 miles away.

Bus Stations Near Willits

The Mendocino Transit Authority provides bus services to Willits and other destinations in the region, with frequent stops throughout the city.

Other Options

Visitors can also reach Willits by car, with easy access to major highways and scenic routes throughout California.

How to Get Around in Willits

The city of Willits is compact and easy to navigate, with a variety of transportation options available, including car rentals, taxis, and shuttle services. Visitors can also explore the city on foot or by bike, with scenic trails and paths throughout the region.

Where to Go Next from Willits: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Mendocino Village - Just a short drive from Willits, the charming seaside village of Mendocino offers visitors beautiful scenery, quaint shops, and a range of outdoor activities, including kayaking, beachcombing, and hiking.

  • Fort Bragg - Located along the rugged California coastline, Fort Bragg is a popular destination for visitors seeking stunning natural beauty, exciting outdoor activities, and delicious seafood.


With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and exciting outdoor activities, Willits offers visitors a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Whether you’re exploring the city’s museums and historical sites, hiking through scenic trails and forests, or simply relaxing and enjoying the local food and drink scene, Willits has something for everyone. Plan your trip today and discover all the amazing sights and adventures that this charming city has to offer.