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Ferndale & Fortuna - California

Highlights

Two small towns of Ferndale and Fortuna—in central Humboldt County—typify the history and current activity of the area. Fortuna is a market town, servicing the needs of the agricultural areas in the central part of the county. Ferndale is a historic village and a favorite tourist center, the result of well-preserved heritage Victorian architecture and a canny tourist promotion program.

What to See and Do | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Camping

What to See & Do

Aside from downtown Eureka, Ferndale boasts the best preserved Victorian architecture in California, a tidy main street looking as if the village had been locked in time, and some interesting places to stay, eat and shop for antiques and the work of local artists and crafts people. The museum displays village artifacts. This town, near the Lost Coast, has been the victim of earthquakes but retains its original character, with many original Victorian homes and other buildings that take visitors back in time to a much earlier era.

The town of Fortuna was established around 1875 by farmers who came to the area from northern Humboldt. Originally called Slide, the town's name was later changed to Springville, due to the fresh water springs in the area, and then to Fortuna. The town is 250 miles north of San Francisco. A half-hour's drive east of town on State Hwy. 36 is Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, a 234-acre recreation area with memorial groves, short nature trails, swimming and fishing in the Van Duzen River. Highway 36 leads to the Trinity Alps, offering views of several rural hamlets along the way, including Carlotta, Bridgeville and Dinsmore.

What to See & Do

Several motels as well as some fine bed and breakfast inns -- including Victorian Inn, Gingerbread Mansion Inn -- are perfectly located for a visit to the many attractions of Humboldt County, including the Avenue of the Giants, the Lost Coast, and the natural areas of the Eel Valley.

Right in Ferndale are Victorian shops and galleries -- along Main Street. There's a walking tour map available in town, guiding you to the notable buildings. The Ferndale Museum is at Shaw and 3rd. It's filled with artifacts from the early days of Humboldt County, and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Kinetic Sculpture Museum (Main and Shaw) is open daily. For a natural experience, go to Russ Park, a bird sanctuary and wilderness park, just a half-mile from downtown Ferndale.

Centerville Beach is close at hand. From Ferndale, drive along Main Street to Ocean, turn right and follow Ocean for five miles.

The Lost Coast is the remote landscape set between the King Range and the Pacific Ocean. Begin your loop drive to the Lost Coast by driving to Petrolia from Ferndale, continue south and be sure to see the seaside village of Shelter Cove, and finish the loop by taking the Avenue of the Giants or Highway 101 -- to return to Ferndale. For more information on this fascinating region, go to the Lost Coast Page.

Visitors to Fortuna should check out the visitor center in the River Lodge Convention Center. Located on the banks of the Eel River. This is a state-of-the-art convention facility with banquet facilities, reception room, fireplaces, displays of local art, and a fine view.

Cheese lovers have to visit the Loleta Cheese Factory. The village is just off Highway 101 from ferndale, and the factory is open for tasting and buying cheese from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Pacific Lumber Company, the largest redwood mill in the world, has free self-guided tours. The mill is located in the company town of Scotia, on Highway 101. Tours are available Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Where to Eat

Should you be looking for a place to dine in Ferndale there is Curley's in the Victorian Inn, 4000 Ocean Avenue and a genuine soda fountain at the Fern Cafe ay 553 Main Street, for all-day breakfast and lunch specials.

Fortuna has been expanding its facilities as a place to stay and eat. Eel River Brewing Company, located in the Riverwalk/convention center area of town, offers pub food and great beer (including organic) for lunch and dinner. The Redwood Cafe, 1206 Main Street, serves breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. It has an extensive menu including such thinks as steak sandwiches, burgers, salads, busicuits and gravy: diner-style comfort food. Hot Brew -- an espresso bar and bistro on Fortuna Boulevard -- serves breakfast and lunch. Go the short distance to Ferndale for dinner.

Camping

Fortuna KOA
1660 Kenmar Road, Fortuna CA 95540
(707) 725-3359
This modern RV park and campground has all the KOA amenities, including level paved sites, pool, and spa.

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