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Exploring the Best of Humboldt County: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Nestled along the rugged coastline of Northern California, Humboldt County beckons adventurous souls with its pristine landscapes and towering redwoods, making it a peaceful nature getaway like no other. If you're a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle, this comprehensive travel guide to Humboldt County will unveil the best attractions, activities, and insider tips for an unforgettable experience.

ultimate guide to Humboldt county. girl walking on brdige in fore

A visit to the crown jewel of Northern California is a great way to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the famous Redwoods National Park, where colossal trees stand as ancient sentinels, creating a serene sanctuary for exploration. Take a scenic drive through the world-renowned Avenue of the Giants, where massive redwoods line the route, inviting you to marvel at their grandeur. For those seeking adventure by the coast, embark on amazing hiking trails that reveal breathtaking vistas, allowing you to discover the rugged charm of Humboldt County's coastline.

This travel guide is your key to unlocking the hidden treasures and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you're a solo traveler, a couple seeking a romantic getaway, or a family in search of adventure, Humboldt County welcomes you with open arms. Get ready to explore, unwind, and fall in love with the untamed beauty of this Northern California gem.

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Where to Stay in Humboldt, County California?

Humboldt County is dotted with charming towns, each offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and local charm. The lodging options in Humboldt County are quite diverse, ranging from charming inns and boutique motels to cozy cabins; while 5 star luxury accommodations may not exist, you can easily find a place that suits your needs, especially considering you'll likely be spending the majority of your time immersed in the great outdoors!

sitting on the front porch of a cabin drinking coffee.
The Front Porch Inn is a cozy hotel with unique rooms and custom flair!
soaking in an outdoor bath tub surrounded by ferns
Soaking in the outdoor tubs at The Front Porch Inn which is available for guests only.

Arcata offers a convenient hub for those looking to venture into a blend of redwood forests and coastal landscapes while being in proximity to diverse dining options. The enchanting downtown square adds to the allure. However, if you lean towards a tranquil retreat, I suggest opting for accommodations closer to Trinidad, where numerous natural treasures await your enjoyment.

Best Accomodations for your stay to Humboldt County:

Eureka, California

Eureka, perched on the shores of Humboldt Bay, emerges as an excellent choice for a stay in Humboldt County, offering a captivating mix of history, architecture, and coastal allure. This charming town boasts a wealth of Victorian architecture, with well-preserved buildings lining the streets of Old Town Eureka. Staying in Eureka allows you to explore the city's rich history at the Clarke Historical Museum and delve into its artistic scene at local galleries. Moreover, its strategic location makes it an ideal base for venturing into the nearby redwood forests or along the scenic Pacific coastline. Eureka's unique blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty makes it a perfect spot for those seeking an enriching and convenient experience in Humboldt County.

Aracta, California

Arcata, home to Cal Poly Humboldt University, exudes a youthful and vibrant energy and is a popular choice for travelers looking for a homebase to explore. The Arcata Plaza, a central hub surrounded by shops and restaurants, provides a dynamic focal point for exploration. Staying in Arcata allows easy access to the picturesque Arcata Community Forest, perfect for serene hikes and bird-watching. The town's commitment to sustainability and its local farmers' markets showcase the region's dedication to fresh, organic produce. With its central location and a plethora of outdoor and cultural experiences, Arcata stands out as an ideal spot to immerse yourself in the distinctive charm of Humboldt County.

Trinidad, California

Outdoor enthusiasts will find joy in Trinidad, a coastal town surrounded by towering redwoods. Hike the Trinidad Head trail for panoramic ocean views, relax on Trinidad State Beach, and explore the Trinidad Art Gallery.

Trinidad, California, deserves special attention for its captivating coastal beauty and relaxed ambiance. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Trinidad is a haven for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers alike. Begin your Trinidad adventure with a visit to Trinidad State Beach, where sea stacks rise majestically from the ocean, providing a stunning backdrop for picnics and sunset gazing. The Trinidad Head trail offers a scenic hike leading to panoramic views of the rugged coastline, and during the winter, it becomes a prime spot for whale watching. Explore the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse and the harbor, where colorful boats bob gently in the water. The town's small but vibrant art community is showcased at the Trinidad Art Gallery, offering a glimpse into the local creativity inspired by the breathtaking surroundings. Whether you're seeking tranquility on the beach, awe-inspiring coastal views, or a taste of Trinidad's artistic spirit, this seaside gem is sure to leave an indelible mark on your Humboldt County experience.

Ferndale, California

Ferndale, California, a picture-perfect Victorian village nestled amid the towering redwoods of Humboldt County, transports visitors to a bygone era. Known for its meticulously preserved 19th-century architecture, Ferndale's Main Street boasts colorful storefronts, charming boutiques, and cozy cafes. Take a leisurely stroll along the well-preserved streets to admire the ornate gingerbread houses and visit the Ferndale Museum for a glimpse into the town's rich history. The peaceful Fern Cottage, a Victorian-era home turned museum, offers a fascinating look into the town's past. For a touch of whimsy, explore the Kinetic Sculpture Race Headquarters, where you can witness the uniquely Humboldt tradition of human-powered sculptures navigating land and sea. Ferndale, with its timeless charm and friendly atmosphere, provides a delightful escape into a storybook setting within the heart of Northern California.

Bonus: For those seeking a more laid-back experience, Shelter Cove is a hidden coastal retreat. Nestled between cliffs and the Pacific Ocean, this small town offers stunning views and access to the Lost Coast Trail for hiking enthusiasts.

Whether you're drawn to the historic charm of Eureka, the artistic vibes of Arcata, the coastal beauty of Trinidad, or the tranquil escape of Shelter Cove, each town in Humboldt County invites you to explore its distinctive character and immerse yourself in the natural wonders that surround it.

Author's Note: I feel it's important to note that Humboldt County, mainly Eureka and Arcata, has a decent transient and homelessness population, and it's advisable to consider this factor when making accommodations arrangements based on your comfortability.

When to Visit Humboldt County & Weather

The best time to visit Humboldt County, California, largely depends on the type of experience you seek and your tolerance for different weather conditions. For those who appreciate milder temperatures and lush green landscapes, the late spring to early fall months, from May to October, are ideal. During this period, temperatures typically range from the mid-50s to the low 70s Fahrenheit, creating pleasant conditions for exploring the redwood forests, hiking along the coastline, and engaging in outdoor activities.

Summer, in particular, offers the driest weather, making it a popular time for tourists. However, it's worth noting that Humboldt County is known for its coastal fog, which can roll in at any time, even during the summer.

If you prefer fewer crowds and don't mind cooler temperatures, the late fall and winter months are also charming, showcasing the region's dramatic weather and offering a unique, moody atmosphere. Regardless of the season, Humboldt County's natural beauty remains enchanting year-round.

Getting to Humboldt County

For travelers heading to Humboldt County, you have two main options for arrival. If you're flying, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the closest major airport, requiring a 5.5-hour drive via Highway 101 to reach the region. Embrace the scenic journey, and don't miss the iconic Avenue of the Giants detour, a minimal time addition that unveils the splendor of ancient redwoods.

Alternatively, for a more direct and convenient option, consider flying into Arcata-Eureka Airport (ACV) in McKinleyville. This regional airport offers closer proximity to Humboldt County, minimizing travel time and ensuring a quicker transition from air travel to the captivating landscapes that await. You can find non-stop direct flights to ACV from SFO, LAX & Denver airports daily. Regardless of your chosen route, renting a car is advisable for exploring the diverse attractions scattered throughout this nature-rich destination.

Best Places to Enjoy the Redwoods in Humboldt County:

Humboldt County emerges as a veritable treasure trove of natural wonders, enchanting outdoor enthusiasts with its varied landscapes and unspoiled beauty. At the forefront of these marvels lies the renowned Redwood trees, an expansive realm of ancient redwood groves that serves as a testament to nature's grandeur.

The towering coastal redwoods of California, standing among the tallest trees globally, owe their impressive height to a remarkable adaptation — they can extract moisture directly from the coastal fog. This clever mechanism enables them to flourish in the misty environments along the Northern California coast.

Fern Canyon walls with a river and large redwood log
Exploring Fern Canyon is like taking a trip back to the Jurassic times!

These colossal sentinels beckon visitors to Humboldt County waiting to be discovered. Strap your hiking boots on or simply enjoy these giant Redwoods from your car. Here are some of the top places to encounter redwoods on your next Humboldt county road trip.

  • Redwood & National State Park: Home to some of the world's tallest trees, this park features a scenic drive and breathtaking hikes through ancient redwood groves.

  • Fern Canyon: Nestled within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Fern Canyon enchants visitors with its lush, fern-covered walls and served as a filming location for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.

  • Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail: A serene hiking trail named after the former First Lady, providing a tranquil journey through a majestic redwood grove and insights into the ecology of these towering giants.

  • Arcata Community Forest: A lush urban forest offering a network of trails surrounded by ancient redwoods, providing a peaceful escape and an opportunity to connect with nature within city limits.

  • Sequoia Park Zoo: Humboldt County's charming zoo nestled within the redwoods, offering a unique suspension bridge experience to observe wildlife amidst the towering trees.

  • Avenue of Giants: A world-famous scenic drive, winding through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, showcasing colossal redwoods that stand as sentinels along the route.

  • Headwaters Forest Reserve: A pristine wilderness preserving ancient redwoods, offering hiking trails that lead through a breathtaking old-growth forest.

  • Big Tree Wayside: Located within the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, a picturesque drive within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, winds through towering redwood groves, offering a breathtaking drive.

  • Trees of Mystery: An iconic roadside attraction featuring towering sculptures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, providing a quirky and educational experience amidst the redwoods. While not technically in Humboldt County, it is a popular attraction visitiors within the area.

Best Places to Enjoy the Coast in Humboldt County:

expansive ocean coastline views and forest
Viewpoint of Agate Beach from Sue Meg State Park - great spot for coastal camping!

  • Trinidad: Trinidad, California, unfolds as a coastal haven, where every spot exudes a unique charm. The historic Trinidad Lighthouse, perched on a bluff, stands as a sentinel overlooking the vast Pacific. Its iconic presence offers not only a glimpse into maritime history but also unparalleled panoramic views of the rugged coastline. Just a short distance away, Trinidad Head invites visitors to traverse its scenic trails, leading to breathtaking vistas of the Trinidad Bay. This coastal promontory serves as a perfect vantage point for whale watching during the winter months. The harmonious blend of the historic lighthouse and Trinidad Head creates an enchanting coastal experience, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and maritime heritage that define this captivating corner of Northern California.

  • Sue Meg State Park: Offering a tranquil retreat within the redwood forest, Sue Meg State Park features lush trails leading to panoramic ocean vistas, providing a perfect blend of coastal and woodland beauty. Catch a gorgeous sunset at Wedding Rock!

  • Luffenhotlz Beach: Known for its scenic coastal bluffs and hidden coves, Luffenholz Beach is a haven for tide pool explorers, offering a chance to discover marine life amid the rugged beauty of the Pacific.

  • Lost Coast: The Lost Coast, one of California's last untouched wildernesses, beckons adventurers with its remote beaches, towering cliffs, and challenging backpacking trails, offering an escape into pristine nature.

  • Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary: Situated in the heart of Arcata, this sanctuary is a birdwatcher's paradise, featuring an extensive network of trails winding through marshes and ponds, providing a peaceful urban refuge for wildlife enthusiasts.

Other Things to do near Humboldt

girl standing on suspension bridge surrounded by redwood forest
Gaining new perspectives of the redwoods from the 100+ foot tall suspension bridge at the Sequoia Zoo.

Cafe Mokka's Finnish Hot Tubs: Indulge in a unique and rejuvenating experience at Cafe Mokka, where the charm of a traditional Finnish hot tub awaits. This cozy cafe provides visitors with an opportunity to unwind after a day of hiking by soaking in an outdoor tub and sauna. Surrounded by the serene beauty of nature, Cafe Mokka's hot tubs offer a perfect blend of relaxation and tranquility, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a soothing escape in the midst of Humboldt's enchanting landscapes. If soaking in a natural cedar tub doesn't tickle your fancy, you can still enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the peaceful surroundings! I videoed my experience here on Instagram for you to get an idea of what it is like to visit Cafe Mokka.

Tip: Hot tub reservations operate on a first-come, first-served basis. For the best chance, visit in person early in the morning to secure your appointment, as same-day reservations are only accepted by phone. Keep in mind that they prioritize in-person reservations, answering phone calls once all on-site appointments are booked. Despite the initial inconvenience, the experience is well worth the effort!

Visit the Sequoia Park Zoo: A visit to the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka promises a delightful and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Nestled within the lush surroundings of Sequoia Park, this intimate and charming zoo showcases a diverse array of animals, including red pandas, river otters, and lemurs. The zoo's commitment to conservation and education is evident through its engaging exhibits, interactive displays, and informative keeper talks. Wander through the beautifully landscaped grounds, and traverse the 100-foot-tall suspension bridges for a unique perspective on the towering redwoods.The Sequoia Park Zoo's intimate setting fosters a close connection between guests and the wildlife, making it a perfect outing for families, animal enthusiasts, and those seeking a unique blend of outdoor exploration and conservation awareness in the heart of Eureka.

Madaket Harbor Cruise: Embark on an unforgettable maritime adventure with the Madaket Harbor Cruise, a delightful boat tour that unveils the coastal beauty of Humboldt County. Sail aboard the historic Madaket, the oldest passenger ferry in the United States, as it glides through the picturesque waters of Humboldt Bay. Whether you're captivated by the stunning sunset views or intrigued by tales of the region's maritime history, the Madaket Harbor Cruise promises an immersive and scenic journey, providing a unique perspective of the coastal wonders that define this Northern California gem.

Brewery Exploration: Humboldt County's vibrant craft beer scene beckons enthusiasts to embark on a brewery exploration. With a variety of microbreweries and taprooms scattered throughout the region, visitors can savor locally crafted beers, each reflecting the distinctive flavors and creativity of Humboldt's brewing community. Redwood Curtain, Mad River Brewing, and Humboldt Cider Company are all great spots to grab a cold one. Whether you're a connoisseur seeking unique brews or a casual beer lover looking to unwind, a visit to one of Humboldt's breweries offers a delightful taste of the area's craft beer culture.

Kayaking Adventure: For those craving an active and immersive experience, kayaking along the Humboldt County coastline is a must. Navigate the pristine waters, exploring hidden coves, sea caves, and witnessing marine life up close. Whether you're a novice or an experienced paddler, the diverse kayaking opportunities in Humboldt provide a thrilling and scenic adventure, allowing you to connect with the coastal beauty and wildlife that make this region a kayaker's paradise.

Arcata Farmers Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture of Arcata by visiting the Arcata Farmers Market. Held in the charming Plaza, this market showcases the best of Humboldt's agricultural bounty, featuring fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and delectable treats. Engage with local farmers, artisans, and musicians while sampling the region's flavors. The Arcata Farmers Market offers a lively and communal atmosphere, making it a perfect way to experience the heart and soul of this Northern California town.

Attending a Humboldt Crabs Game: The Humboldt Crabs, a beloved collegiate wood-bat baseball team, play their games at the historic Arcata Ball Park, creating an atmosphere steeped in tradition and local pride. As you settle into the stands, the vibrant energy of the crowd mixes with the crack of the bat and the cheers for every play. The games are not just about baseball but also about embracing the community spirit that defines Humboldt County. From families enjoying an evening out to avid baseball fans reveling in the skill of the players, a Humboldt Crabs game offers a rowdy night of America's favorite pastime.

Events and Festivals: Plan your visit around the lively events and festivals that showcase the spirit of Humboldt County. From the kinetic sculptures at the Kinetic Grand Championship to the Humboldt County Fair, there's always something exciting happening in this vibrant community.

Best Places to Eat & Drink:

  • Brick & Fire Bistro: Cozy spot offering wood-fired pizzas, creative small plates, and a selection of local wines.

  • Humboldt Bay Provisions: Seafood-centric eatery with a great selection of oysters, craft beers, and a scenic waterfront view.

  • Lost Coast Brewery: Popular brewery with a diverse menu, offering pub fare and a wide selection of craft beers.

  • Tomo Japanese Restaurant: Authentic Japanese cuisine, including sushi and sashimi, prepared with precision and care.

  • Hey Juan Burritos: Hole in wall favorite for delicious burritos and Mexican-inspired cuisine with a focus on fresh, quality ingredients for carnivores and vegans.

  • Wildflower Cafe and Bakery: Charming cafe and bakery known for its fresh and creative dishes, including a variety of baked goods and hearty breakfast options.

  • Northtown Coffee: Popular coffee spot known for its artisanal coffee blends and cozy atmosphere.

  • Fieldbrook Market: Local market offering fresh and locally sourced products, including coffee and light bites.

  • Larrupin Cafe: Known for its beautiful garden setting, Larrupin Cafe serves Pacific Rim-inspired cuisine and seafood dishes.

  • Beachcomber Cafe: Coastal gem offering a mix of seafood and traditional American dishes with stunning ocean views.

  • Renata's Creperie: Delightful spot known for its delicious sweet and savory crepes, offering a unique and tasty dining experience.

As you embark on your journey through Humboldt County, you'll discover a land where nature and culture intertwine seamlessly. Humboldt County's natural wonders extend far beyond these highlights, providing an immersive tapestry of forests, coastlines, and wild spaces waiting to be explored by those eager to connect with the pristine outdoors.

Find me on Instagram at @brittsbellavita for more California Travel tips and guides!



Welcome to the Brittsbellavita Blog, a California based travel and adventure community geared towards inspiring others to find their "Bella Vita." I am a Licensed Drone Pilot and Content Creator with a passion for exploring the outdoors, finding hidden gems, and getting off the beaten path. I live in Northern California, and love showcasing the Golden State, West Coast, and beyond!

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