There’s a lot more to Humboldt County than just weed: Discovering the Lost Coast

An illustrated map of Central Humboldt County (Courtesy of IG user: pen.and.pine)

When you think of Humboldt County what comes to mind? Weed, right? Well, it’s true that Humboldt County has a lot of weed, but there’s so much more to the Lost Coast than just that. In many ways, Humboldt is to weed as Napa is to wine, when you hear the name Humboldt, you immediately picture marijuana and that’s fine. However, you should also picture stunning redwood forest as far as the eye can see, along with rugged, undeveloped coastline that stretches for miles, stars that shine in all their glory as a result of less light pollution and air so clean it’s hard to comprehend how your lungs have been able to function before. Here’s a few of the many reasons why Humboldt County is well worth the scenic 4 hour drive up from the Bay Area:

The beauty of the “Lost Coast”

A beach on the Humboldt Coast. (Courtesy of IG user: humboldtaerialimages)

While California has hundreds of miles of coastline on the Pacific Ocean, Humboldt’s section of the coast is the most pristine and untouched. The only visible footprints of civilization for many of Humboldt’s coastal areas are limited to roads surrounded by towering redwoods, a few traffic signs and not much else. There are so many beaches and so few people in Humboldt County (Humboldt is geographically large and only has a population of 150k) that it is within the realm of possibility that when you arrive, you’ll have the entire beach to yourself to explore as you please, aside from the occasional sea lion.

The tranquility of The Redwoods

Redwoods in the Arcata Community Forest (Photo courtesy of author)

After you’ve had your fill of Humboldt’s many beaches, the next thing on your agenda should be the Redwoods. While there are many great redwood parks to visit, there’s a few that I strongly suggest: The first would be the Arcata Community Forest behind Humboldt State University. These trails are geared toward novice hikers and allow for a more casual exploration of the redwoods. This is also where a large portion Humboldt State students hangout, so if you ever want to join a drum circle, hacky sack or smoke session in the forest, this is definitely the place for that.

A woman wandering around The Avenue of the Giants (Photo courtesy of IG user: lopezisabella87)

However, the most impressive of all the Humboldt County redwood forests is The Avenue of the Giants, centered in Weott, California. While San Francisco’s skyscrapers showcase the best of what humanity is capable of, the towering redwood behemoths that populate The Avenue of the Giants offer a glimpse of Mother Nature’s stunning impact on land undisturbed by society’s ambitions.

The quirky charm of Humboldt’s small towns

Old Town Carriage Company offers tours of Eureka’s “Old Town” district. (photo courtesy of Author)

When you feel ready to get back to civilization, the towns of Eureka and Arcata have a lot of great things to offer, despite their small sizes.

Eureka, California:

An impressive mural in Downtown Eureka (photo by author)

As I visited Downtown Eureka, I was immediately struck by how much gorgeous public art surrounded me. Nearly every alley, utility box and many of the walls had incredible displays celebrating the local art scene and its seemingly endless creativity.

Local Humboldt artist and Bay Area native, Sam Moore applying the finishing touches to her “Cat Food” utility box painting. (Photo used with permission of artist Sam Moore)

Eureka’s art scene recently got national attention due to a spat between local artist, Samantha Moore and a local business owner over Sam’s “Cat Food” utility box project that was in front of her business. What started as a small town topic of gossip ended up on the front page of Reddit and exposed the nation to Humboldt’s creative community.

The Carson Mansion in Eureka, California (photo by author)

Eureka is also home to the Carson Mansion, arguably the most well known landmark in Humboldt County. The Carson’s Mansion’s beautiful Victorian architecture is up there with the best of San Francisco, but while the Carson is the most famous of Humboldt’s architectural treasures, it isn’t the only one. Eureka’s “Old Town” is full of gorgeous historic homes and commercial buildings.

Arcata, California

Arcata Theatre Lounge (Photo Courtesy of IG user 101thingstodoinhumboldt)

Eureka’s neighbor to the north, Arcata is no slouch either. Arcata is home to Humboldt State University, a gorgeous campus tucked into a sprawling redwood forest. The Arcata Plaza serves as the city center and is an excellent place to spend an afternoon. The Arcata Plaza is also surrounded by some of Humboldt County’s best places to shop and grab a bite to eat.

Support Local Business

Inside of People’s Records in Arcata, California (Photo courtesy of yelp user Benjamin F.)

Humboldt County is home to a ton of great local coffee shops, eateries, grocery stores, book stores and record stores, but like all small towns, business can sometimes be scarce, so if you end up visiting Humboldt, don’t plop down your cash at the nearest Walmart; shop local to keep the dollars in the community. Here are some great places to check out:

People’s Records: 725 8th Street, Arcata, California (Cool record store for the communist in your family)

Bikini Brews: 71 West 4th St, Eureka, California (Drive-Thru coffee sold by girls in bikinis… if you’re into that sorta thing.)

North Coast Co-op: 25 4th St, Eureka, CA (Local Grocery store owned and operated by its workers!)

Conclusion:

The stuff I mentioned in this article doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the cool things about Humboldt County… And if that doesn’t convince you the Lost Coast is worth a visit, there’s always the weed…

Bay Area native, Hip Hop nerd, literature and poetry enthusiast, freelance writer, gamer, caffeine addict. Follow me on Twitter.