Closest Airport to Fort Bragg & Mendocino: Best Tips in 2023
Are you planning a trip to the magical Mendocino coast and wondering what the closest airport to Fort Bragg and Mendocino is? If so, you have landed on the right post.
For so many reasons, Mendocino is one of my favorite weekend getaways in northern California. The small coastal town is known for its stunning natural beauty, unbelievable bluff views of the Pacific Ocean, and forests of towering redwood trees.
As a Norcal local and someone who has been to Mendocino numerous times, I am looking forward to sharing the closest airport to Fort Bragg, California, tips to getting to Fort Bragg, and my favorite must-visit location on the Mendocino coast.
The Closest Airport to Fort Bragg & Mendocino
Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS) is the closest airport to Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. However, just because it is the closest does not mean it is the best one for you.
When traveling to the Bay Area, it is important to know that you have options when it comes to flying.
We are lucky to have multiple airports in northern California. Depending on where you are flying from and your budget, will help you decide which one to choose to fly into when visiting Mendocino.
✈️ The Other Airports Close to Fort Bragg:
- Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (STS): 111 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 2 hour and 15-minute drive
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO): 183 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 3 hour 45-minute drive.
- Oakland International Airport (OAK): 176 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 3 hour and 30 minute drive.
- JetSuiteX – Oakland: 176 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 3 hour and 30 minute drive.
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF): 180 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 3 hour and 30 minute drive
- Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC): 216 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 4 hour drive.
- California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport (Arcata-Eureka Airport ACV): 150 miles to Fort Bragg and roughly a 3 hour drive
Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS)
As mentioned above, Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport is the closest airport to Fort Bragg. The regional airport is located in Santa Rosa, California, approximately 111 miles south of Fort Bragg.
The airport is serviced by several major airlines, including Alaska, American, and Avelo Airlines. Sonoma County Airport offers non-stop flights to numerous major cities.
You can find flights from:
- San Diego
- Los Angeles
- Reno, Orange County
- Las Vegas
- Palm Springs.
Flying into Sonoma County Airport is a great option if you can find a direct flight from one of their nonstop destinations. It will save you (depending on traffic) about an hour of driving. Also, you will get to avoid the crowds and chaos at the other international airports.
🚗 There are car rentals available, but you will need to make those reservations in advance.
However, if you don’t live near one of these locations, I would suggest looking booking from one of the major airports instead. Otherwise, you will be spending extra money on flights and experience long layover times.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Francisco International Airport is the closest major airport to Mendocino and Fort Bragg. It is the most popular and largest airport to fly into when visiting the Bay Area.
SFO is a major gateway to destinations all over the United States and internationally. The airport offers non-stop flights to more than 75 cities in the United States on 13 domestic airlines.
It is a long drive from San Francisco International Airport to Fort Bragg, about close to 4 hours without traffic. However, you will most likely have more options and flexibility of flights when flying in and out of SFO.
🚗 Renting a car from San Francisco International Airport is very convenient and easy to do. The car rental center is located at a central location, and you can access it from the airport terminals by taking the AirTrain to the rental car center. The AirTrain operates 24 hours every day.
Oakland International Airport (OAK)
One of my personal favorite airports to fly in and out of is Oakland International Airport. It’s not as busy as SFO is, and I find it to be more efficient.
It is the fourth largest airport in California and offers the best on-time arrival and departure rates of the Bay Area’s five airports. Pretty impressive.
Oakland International Airport has a lot of budget airlines, including Southwest, the largest airline at Oakland International which accounts for the majority of the passenger traffic.
🚗 Car rentals are also available at the Oakland International Airport at a car rental center that is a 5-minute drive from the airport. There is a Rental Car Shuttle that operates 24 hours a day and provides transportation to terminals and the car center every 10 minutes or less.
The main difference between flying into Oakland’s airport versus San Francisco’s is Oakland is much smaller than SFO and has fewer flight options. Oakland’s airport is a tad closer to Fort Bragg than San Francisco International Airport, but shouldn’t make too much of a difference. It is roughly a 3 and a half hour drive from Oakland to Fort Bragg.
JSX – Oakland
Another option that many people do not know about is JetSuiteX has a private terminal near Oakland International Airport.
JSX is an affordable hop-on jet service that is very convenient to fly because you avoid the hassle of TSA and baggage claim, and you only need to arrive 20 minutes before your flight.
Flights are typically a little more expensive than flying into one of the major international airports. However, there have been times when we have found cheaper flights or similar pricing at JetSuiteX.
If this is ever the case for you, book those tickets! JSX has way more perks than flying with one of the commercial airlines. So I think it is always worth checking out before booking your flights.
JetSuiteX flys from the following destinations:
- Dallas-Love Field
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- Orange County
- San Diego.
🚗 You can rent a car at JSX with a prior reservation, they are partnered with Car Rentals. Or you are right around the corner from Oakland’s Airport car rental so if its cheaper, you could rent a car from there too.
Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Sacramento International Airport is another airport in northern California that is close to Fort Bragg.
It is a major international airport that many people forget we have because of SFO. However, SMF is the same distance to Fort Bragg as San Francisco and Oakland airports.
Sacramento International Airport offers numerous nonstop and direct flights throughout the US and connecting flights around the world. And the airport is growing! Within the next five years, SMF is launching major expansions to improve the flight experience, including additional gates, parking, and a pedestrian walkway.
🚗 The car rental center is located on the airport’s property. A shuttle to the car rental is provided at each terminal, and pick-ups are every 10 minutes.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
The farthest major airport to Fort Bragg is Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Jose, CA. It is approximately a 4 hour drive from San Jose to Fort Bragg. I wouldn’t recommend this as your top pick, but it is great to still have the option.
San Jose International Airport offers a great variety of nonstop flights to destinations in the US and internationally. There are 12 airlines that are serviced by this fast-growing major airport.
🚗 There is a car rental center located at the airport that offers 12 different companies. The Rental Car Center is located directly across from Terminal B, or there is a shuttle you can take from Terminal A.
California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport (ACV)
The last option you have for airports near Fort Bragg is California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport, also known as Arcata-Eureka Airport. The airport is located north of Mendocino in Humboldt County, 20 minutes north of Eureka.
It’s a small regional airport with only two airline carriers, United and Avelo. They service flights to a handful of destinations. Unites Airlines currently offers flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver. And Avelo Airlines currently offers service to Burbank, California.
🚗 There are two car rental agencies available at Humboldt County Airport, so it is best to make your reservations in advance.
Closest Airport to Fort Bragg: Which One Should You Choose
In the last 6 years living in the Bay Area, I have had my fair share of flights and experience at the various local airports.
I believe if you are traveling to Mendocino, the best two airports closest to Fort Bragg are Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
I recommend Oakland Airport because, in my personal experience, I have found it to be more efficient, has fewer delays, and is sometimes cheaper than SFO.
San Francisco International Airport is also a top option because it is the largest airport in the Bay Area and offers a large variety of flights from destinations around the country. You will most likely find the best nonstop flights from SFO.
However, don’t forget to check prices and flights at these other airports. You never know. You could get lucky and find a great deal at Sonoma County Airport or JetSuiteX.
How to Get to Mendocino
The best and most efficient way to get to the Mendocino coast is by car. The drive, even though it may be long, it is one of the best parts about visiting Fort Bragg. The scenic journey to the Mendocino coast takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in California.
As you continue to drive north, the landscape becomes more jagged and dramatic, with towering cliffs, crashing waves, lush redwood forests, and rolling hills of vineyards. The road winds its way along the coast, offering stunning views of the ocean and the rugged coastline.
TIP: If you get car sick, don’t forget to pack a motion sickness medicine like Dramamine. The roads are very windy, and as someone who gets car sick pretty easily, I know I always appreciate the heads up. The less drowsy Dramamine usually works best for me.
The route you will take traveling by car, will either be by Highway 101 N or Highway 1, depending on where you’re starting from. If you are traveling from the city, Highway 101 N is the shorter route. I personally love taking Highway 101 N to Highway 128, it gets you there faster and it is a very scenic and beautiful drive.
Renting a Car for Your Mendocino Coast Road Trip
If you are visiting the Mendocino Coast, you are going to want and need to have a car with you. There are so many amazing trails, beaches, waterfront restaurants, and downtown areas that you will want to explore. And having a car is the best way to get around Fort Bragg and Mendocino.
🚗 Before your Mendocino Coast road trip, make sure to book your car rental in advance. You can check rates and availability below.
✅ Avoid the hassle and book your car rental ahead of time for the lowest rate by clicking here!
If you are looking for more epic stops along the coast, I recommend Half Moon Bay, Monterey, or the purple sand beach in Big Sur.
How Do I Get From San Francisco to Mendocino
If you are traveling to Mendocino from San Francisco, you have two options for transportation. You can either travel by car which is about a 3.5 to 4 hour drive. Or you can take the bus.
There are bus services available that connect Mendocino to other cities in the region. However, the journey by public transportation would not be easy.
You would need to make various connections and the trip would take up the majority of your day. Driving is definitely the way to go when traveling from San Francisco to Mendocino
Must-Visit Location on the Mendocino Coast
Once you have arrived in Mendocino, a must-visit location in Fort Bragg is the famous glass beach. Glass Beach is one of the most unique beaches in northern California! It is famously known for its layers of colorful sea glass that cover the beach.
The glass was originally dumped into the ocean many years ago, but it has since been smoothed and polished by the sea. The popular beach has numerous small coves, bluff trails, and beautiful sandy beaches that you can explore as well.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Closest Airport to Fort Bragg CA
What Major Airport is Closest to Fort Bragg CA?
Sonoma County Airport (STS) is the closest airport to Fort Bragg, but it is a small regional airport and may not offer as many flight options or services as larger airports.
If you’re unable to find a flight to STS, the closest major airports are San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and Sacramento International Airport (SMF). All three airports are located approximately 180 miles south of Fort Bragg.
Can You Fly into Fort Bragg CA?
You cannot fly into Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. You will need to fly into one of the nearby airports, rent a car, and then drive 2.5 to 3.5 hours to get to Fort Bragg.
In Conclusion: Closest Airport to Fort Bragg & Mendocino
Fort Bragg is such a special destination to visit on the California coast. The closest airport to Fort Bragg and Mendocino may be a little bit of a drive out of the way, but visiting this unique and stunning location is so worth it!