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You Have a Choice of Mendocino Airports

Jul 22, 2008
This article gives you the pros and cons of the airports closest to Mendocino and the Redwood Park area, so you can decide which airport is best for you.

Airports Serving Mendocino

The immediate Mendocino area has no airports except the Little River Airport for small private planes. You will need to fly into another city and then drive or take a series of buses to reach the Mendocino coast.

Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport

The nearest airport to Mendocino with commercial service is Santa Rosa's Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, CA.

Yes, that's Charles Schultz, as in Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Charles Schultz lived and worked in Santa Rosa and nearby Sebastopol for more than 30 years.

The Sonoma County Airport, (also referred to as the Wine Country Airport or Santa Rosa Airport), is just west of U.S. Highway 101 along Airport Boulevard four 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 and just three rental car choices. The lack of airline competition often means higher fares.

Horizon Air (owned by Alaskan Airlines) flies in 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 choices of airlines and car rental companies. All are around 3.5 hours from Mendocino.

You may also use Arcata/Eureka Airport described below.

Sacramento Airport

Although folks often overlook it when traveling to the Mendocino coast, the Sacramento International Airport enjoys important advantages.

Unlike travel between Oakland or San Francisco airports and Mendocino, driving from Sacramento International Airport to Mendocino can be much easier. You don't have to worry worrying about rush-hour congestion because you don't need to drive through urban areas to reach Mendocino. In fact, you don't even drive into Sacramento.

With a metro area population now nearing 2 million people, Sacramento enjoys extensive air service, including budget airlines JetBlue and Southwest, which helps 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 deserves a reputation for higher fares compared to Oakland.

Although you'll face some stop-and-go driving through San Francisco, you may agree that it's made up for by the scenic drive through Golden Gate Park and over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Oakland International

Oakland International gives you continuous freeway access to U.S. Highway 101 on your way to Mendocino.

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. So, try to avoid these times.

Arcata/Eureka Airport

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.

But please don't be in a hurry. Include one of the most scenic detours in the world, the Avenue of the Giants, in your trip.

Even though the Arcata Airport has more commercial service than the Sonoma Airport, "ACV" suffers from traditionally high airfares. This may improve somewhat when Delta starts service in June, 2008. Also, rental car prices have been nearly twice as high as those at the San Francisco International.

However, if you take in the uniquely "green" culture in Arcata and the breathtaking natural beauty of the area, Arcata/Eureka Airport offers a wonderfully scenic gateway to Mendocino, and may be worth the extra cost.

Pick the airport that suits your specific desires and needs, and enjoy the Mendocino coast!
About the Author
An extensive world traveler, Don Nadeau, president of BidOnTravel, loves helping people become experts at helping people become experts at Hotwire and Priceline bidding. Learn more about the Avenue of the Giants referred to in this article.
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