From incredible hiking and forests to beaches and old city charm, staying a few days in Eureka, CA puts you smack dab in the middle of the North Coast action. I enjoyed three full days in the area in August and break-down my top five activities that won’t set a dent in your wallet. ($10 dollars or less)1) Explore Humboldt Redwood State Park
To me this is the bread and butter activity for the area. Be prepared to drive 45 minutes each way, but in exchange you get rewarded with redwood trees that are 350 feet tall! What I particularly liked about going on the avenue of giants is that it wasn’t that crowded. And I was there in the peak tourist season.
I suggest starting at the Founders Grove. Within 2 minutes of walking into the park you get to see the giant founder tree. I told Olga it was an Instagram paradise, with so many amazing shots of giant trees both up and fallen you could snap photos of.
Afterwards, head to the Rockefeller Loop Trail for another short hike that takes you around a very green and enchanted-looking forest. I thought Snow White or Bambi were going to come out and start singing at any point.
I’d personally avoid the $8 dollar tourist trap known as the “Shrine Drive Thru Tree” nearby in Myers Flat. You get to boast that your car drove in between a redwood tree. I partook in it and nearly cracked the passenger-side mirror (it really is a tight squeeze into the tree even for a Chevy Cruze). Yeah you get a picture out of it, but it wasn’t worth paying for.
2) Walk Around Old Town Eureka
The historical downtown of Eureka, CA is full of charm and quirkiness. From Cafés to video and book stores there really is something for everyone here.
My recommendations would be to stop by Old Town Coffee & Chocolates. They had a wide-selection of coffees at a self-pouring station. I went with the French vanilla dark roast. Olga was raving about their chocolate-covered pretzels.
For lunch I’d suggest Café Nooner. They were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri. Their claim to fame are the po’boy sandwiches. I went with the Mediterranean Chicken that was stuffed with feta cheese and garlic-bubba spread. It was one of the best lunches I’ve had on my road trip.
Victorian mansions can be seen throughout Eureka, but the one I’d recommend going by is the Carson Mansion. It is said to be one of the most photographed Victorian mansions in California. When I stopped by outside, at least 3 or 4 different cars stopped and came out for a photo. The green-style has me torn between it being home to old royalty or a haunted house.
3) Take a Boat Cruise on the Madaket
Walking around the Eureka Marina, I stumbled upon a sign for a 5pm cruise on the “Madaket” for only $10 dollars. I thought that sounded cheap, so called the number listed on the page and was lucky to reserve the final 2 slots (40 capacity).
Onboard I learned the Madaket was launched in 1910, and is now the oldest continuously servicing passenger boat in the continental USA. It also has the smallest licensed bar in California. For $4 dollars a beer down below its worth peaking your head in.
During the one hour cruise you are treated to some amazing views of the Humboldt Bay. The boat played Great Gatsby sounding 1920’s music the entire time. We were even treated to a view of a chirping pacific seal. A porpoise was also spotted in the distance by the captain.
Make sure you book this early if you want to go, I found out I was lucky to get a slot the same day and that you need to book a few days out to get a guaranteed seat (lots of groups come together). This was absolutely worth the $10 dollar fee.
4) Trinidad Beach/ Light House
We started an afternoon in Trinidad, CA by heading to Agate Beach in Patrick’s Point State Park. There was an $8 dollar fee to enter, but it puts you right up to an amazing view of the beach. Once parked, I recommend doing the .5 mile round-trip hike down to the beach and walking on the dark pebbly sand. It can be a little steep going down the final leg, so make sure your wearing sturdy footwear.
Afterward head over 15 minutes by car to the Trinidad Head Memorial Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is pretty small, but right around it you have an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and some rock formations. My brother said the photos could have passed for the big island of Hawaii.
5) Lost Coast Brewery
Several times a day Lost Coast Brewery offers free tours of their facility just outside of Eureka. We participated in the 4 pm tour and got to see the brewing process step-by-step. I enjoyed seeing the fermenting machines and the packaging area with the giant shark hanging above it.
Of course, remember to check out the tasting room before or after your tour. Thursday is a great day to go, because its open until 9 pm. We sampled a flight (four 4 ounce beers) for $5 dollars. They had quite a bit of wheat beers, which are my favorite. Their top seller was the golden white beer, but I preferred the Tangerine Wheat. They also had Strawberry Wheat (Olga’s pick) and a Watermelon wheat available!
To me staying in Eureka for a couple of days represented a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the two cities that sandwich it by 300 miles: Portland & San Fransisco. The people were friendly, the food and activities fun & affordable, and highs of only 60 degrees in August after melting through a Portland and Astoria heat wave were more than a welcome change.
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