Mendocino (formerly, Big River, Meiggstown, and Mendocino City) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Mendocino County, California, United States. Mendocino is located 9.5 miles (15 km) south of Fort Bragg, at an elevation of 154 feet (47 m). The population was 894 at the 2010 census, up from 824 at the 2000 census.
Despite its small size, the town's scenic location on a headland surrounded by the Pacific Ocean has made it extremely popular as an artist colony and with vacationers. Because it is less than four hours by car from the San Francisco Bay Area, it is a popular weekend getaway spot for Bay Area residents.
Prior to 1850, a Pomo settlement named Buldam was located near Mendocino on the north bank of the Big River. The town was founded in 1850 as a logging community, and was originally named Meiggsville after Henry Meiggs. The first post office opened in 1858. Many of its early settlers were New Englanders, as was true with many older Northern California logging towns. Its economy declined after 1940, and it became a somewhat isolated village with a declining population. The revitalization of the town began in the late 1950s with the founding of the Mendocino Art Center by artist Bill Zacha.