Little River (also known as Littleriver, Bells Harbor, and Kents Landing) is a small unincorporated community in Mendocino County, California. It lies at an elevation of 66 feet (20 m). It is located two miles (3 km) south of the town of Mendocino and running along the Pacific Ocean coast on State Route 1. The town is home to several hundred people and takes its name from nearby Little River. The town center sits on a scenic bluff overlooking the mouth of Little River and hosts a grocery store, two gas pumps, a post office, and a restaurant within a single structure.
Little River is home to several boutique inns and bed & breakfasts, making it a popular tourist stop along the Pacific Coast. The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek is the oldest resort in the Mendocino area, dating back to 1932 and the opening of State Highway 1, then known as the Shoreline Highway.The Cottages at Little River Cove is the newest inn on the Mendocino Coast, and is located just across from the grocery store. The Little River Area has two state parks, lots of ocean access and diverse recreational opportunities. Little River is also home to Little River Airport with its mile-long runway. The ZIP Code is 95456. The community is inside area code 707.
Little River was first settled by Lloyd and Samuel Bell, and the Moore Brothers. Shortly after, in 1856, W.H. Kent purchased the Bell tract and until 1862 the place was known as Bell’s Harbor and Kent’s Landing. In that year Ruel Stickney, Silas Coombs, and Tapping Reeves built a mill here, which provided the stimulus for the formation the town of Little River. This coastal mill town grew with the success of the mill so that eventually a schoolhouse, post house, shipyard, hotels, stores and blacksmith shops all established themselves here. Little River prospered in a similar way to many other towns on the Mendocino Coast until the nearby inland timber stands faltered. In the case of Little River, the mill closed in 1893. The loss of the mill shrunk the town and since that time it has served mainly as a tourist destination due to its beaches and Van Damme State Park, which the Little River runs through. The first road that ran through this area was the Anderson Valley and Big River Wagon Road (1966 GLO Plat). This road was likely widened and altered over the years until it was eventually added to the State Highway System.
In the state legislature Little River is located in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Pat Wiggins, and in the 1st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Patty Berg. Federally, Little River is located in California's 1st congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +10 and is represented by Democrat Mike Thompson.