While there is a small, private airport in Mendocino, there isn’t a major airport in the county. So, if you want to find the closest airport to Fort Bragg (or Mendocino), you’ll need to plan on driving a bit to get there. But don’t worry, it’s a lovely drive. You do have several options and we’ll help you figure out the best choice for you.
Planning Your Trip to the Mendocino Coast
We’ve featured the Mendocino coast as a key stop on our San Francisco to the Redwoods road trip. Mendocino state parks like Hendy Woods, Van Damme and Russian Gulch all have lovely coast redwood groves.
There’s also plenty to do in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, without going any further. Consider stopping in Anderson Valley for wine tasting, strolling the Mendocino headlands or visiting Point Cabrillo lighthouse.
If you are looking for lodging, there are some pretty romantic stays in Mendocino, like the Sweetwater Inn which has rooftop views and a day spa. Or your could go for some cozy romance with this wooded cabin with modern architectural touches.
They have a cool glamping spot at Mendocino Grove which features tents for couples and groups.
Renting a Car for Your Mendocino Coast Trip
If you are flying into SFO, there is a large rental car center, which you can easily get to via the Air Train. Find your best pricing by comparing all of the different rental car providers on Rentalcars.com.
Upon your return to the Bay Area, you’ll need to pay a $9.05 bridge toll for the Golden Gate Bridge or $7 for the Richmond Bridge. Ask your rental car carrier about the best way to handle paying for that fee. But don’t let them talk you into an expensive toll device, because you’ll only need to use it once.
If you fly into Sonoma County Airport, you won’t need to worry about any toll fares.
The Closest Airports to Fort Bragg & Mendocino
Finding the closest airport to Fort Bragg doesn’t mean that it will be the most convenient…or the most cost effective. So, we’ve got three options for you, each with its own strengths.
Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS)
Drive time to Fort Bragg: 111 miles and 2:15 hours.
The Sonoma County airport is the closest airport to Fort Bragg (and Mendocino). It’s is located just north of Santa Rosa and south of Healdsburg. It’s also a great airport for serving Sonoma County wine country.
STS offers direct flights from the following airports:
- On Alaska Air: Los Angeles, Orange County, Portland, San Diego, Seattle,
- On American: Los Angeles, American, Phoenix
- On United: Denver, San Francisco,
- On Avelo: Burbank, Las Vegas
For rental cars, they are served by Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National and ACE.
STS can be a great option if you can get a conveniently timed direct flight from one of the above locations. Since the airport is north of the Bay Area, you’ll avoid any crazy rush hour traffic. And the smaller airport is easier to navigate.
That said, you will have less rental car choice (for a higher price), and slightly higher airfares relative to the San Francisco or Oakland airports. Another disadvantage comes into play if you need to have a connecting flight to STS. If your connecting layover is longer than 1.5-2 hours, you may save time by flying into SFO.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Drive time to Fort Bragg: 192 miles and 3.5 hours
San Francisco is the second largest airport in California and the closest major airport to Mendocino and Fort Bragg (and anywhere else in Northern Coastal California for that matter). It’s served by all US carriers with direct service to most US states. SFO is also an international gateway serving the world with 16 international carriers.
A spot check of fares shows that domestic flights to SFO are somewhat less expansive than STS. And the car rental rates are not only a lot cheaper, but you’ll have far more choice regarding the type of car to rent.
Yes, using SFO gives you a longer drive, but if a connecting flight into Sonoma County is going to cost you a 2= hour layover, then you are definitely better off simply flying into SFO and picking up the car there.
Oakland International Airport (OAK)
Drive to Fort Bragg: 175 miles, 3-3.5 hours.
Oakland is about the same drive-time to Fort Bragg as SFO. OAK is served by most major carriers, but it has far fewer international flights and fewer overall flights from around the country.
That said, Oakland is very well served by Southwest Airlines. Southwest doesn’t fly into Sonoma County Airport and while it does fly into SFO, they have better direct service into Oakland. If you can get a screamin’ deal or great flight time into Oakland, chose that.
Oakland is also *slightly* closer to Fort Bragg than SFO, but all bets are off during rush hour.
Enjoy your trip to the Mendocino Coast. Happy trails!
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