In a coastal city renowned for its historic Victorian-era architecture, one of the finest examples of the style is barely 30 years old. But the ornate, three-story Carter House certainly boasts a vintage pedigree. Owner Mark Carter built the mansion and its handcrafted details based on the original plans from a period 1880s house in San Francisco—plans Carter unearthed while browsing in a Eureka antique shop.
Now the centerpiece of a lodging collection that also includes an adjacent hotel and luxury cottages, Carter House lets you retreat into a world of bygone splendor exemplified by the Library Suite, with its carved details and wood-burning fireplace (the Grand Suites in the hotel building are spectacular, too). Pamper yourselves with an in-room Duet Massage before indulging in such seasonal, locally sourced specialities as the wild mushroom risotto at the lodging’s highly regarded Restaurant 301.
Romance finds a home in this idyllic coastal region, where ocean fog rolls in from the ocean to blanket hushed redwood forests, and whales spout offshore. Along the coast, artists set up their easels to paint scenes of crashing surf and whitewashed cottages wrapped in rose-filled gardens.
Each year, December through May, look to the sea to witness roughly 15,000 gray whales swimming south for the summer.
It’s also a place where a new generation of farmers and winemakers focus on preserving the land as well as producing amazing food and wine. Favorite escapes include the romantic hamlet of Mendocino, roughly a 3-hour drive up the coast from San Francisco, and Eureka, a former logging town 2 hours further north, and the gateway to breathtaking Redwoods National and State Parks.
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You can learn a lot about a place at its local festivals. Consider the Kinetic Grand Championship, a cosmically silly three-day battle between human-powered works of art (imagine a speeding dragon...