Exceptional craft beer has become a California mainstay—so much so that it can be difficult to imagine a time when there weren’t 1,000-plus breweries fermenting golden suds up and down the state. But brewer Barbara Groom remembers this reality well: Not so long ago, her business was considered fringe, a total novelty.
In the late 1980s, Barbara Groom was a pharmacist working in Eureka on California’s North Coast. Weary with the job, Groom yearned to do something that felt closer to her farming roots. She considered cabinet making, but the risk of injury seemed too high. Then Hopland Brewery (now closed) opened in Mendocino County. “The moment I saw that, I knew what I was going to do with my life,” Groom says. “I opened Lost Coast Brewery in 1989. I’ve been brewing ever since—and am very happy doing it.”
Groom says it took years for consumers to understand the magic of craft beer. Over the last few decades, though, the industry has boomed. Lost Coast now distributes worldwide, and you can find their Downtown Brown and Tangerine Wheat in bars across China, South Korea, and all over Europe.
Visitors can get a taste of Lost Coast straight from the source at the restaurant and tap room, located half a mile from the windswept shores of Humboldt Bay. As the brewery’s name indicates, the little city of Eureka is a great place to get lost. Surrounded by towering redwoods, curled against the shore, Eureka has the perfect balance of creature comforts and a get-away-from-it-all feel. “It’s such a beautiful place,” says Groom.
One of Groom’s preferred pastimes is driving her Jeep along South Jetty Road and parking anywhere along South Spit Beach where she can find some solitude. “Sometimes you’ll be the only person there,” she marvels. She also enjoys wandering through Redwood State and National Parks, located both south and north of the city—her favorite is Prairie Creek. She also notes that you can find the lovely giants right in town at the Redwood Sky Walk, an interpretive trail suspended 100 feet above the ground.
The redwood coast provides plenty of opportunities to rough it, but Groom likes the Carter House Inns for a more luxurious stay. The gingerbread-style Victorian features in-room fireplaces and clawfoot tubs. For a taste of the Pacific, Groom recommends heading to The Sea Grill. “I’m stuck on their sole with egg batter and lemon sauce,” she says. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Ramone’s, Groom’s favorite pastry spot, or try a single-origin bar from Dick Taylor—“their chocolate is very good.”
Groom warns that once you visit Eureka, you may never want to leave. “When I first moved to Eureka, I never thought I’d spend the rest of my life here,” she says. “But the people here are so friendly and I love the climate. It’s like paradise for me.”
FIVE MORE FAVORITES
Find more of Barbara Groom’s favorite places to explore in this idyllic port-side city.
Best bookstore: “Amy Stewart, a New York Times bestselling author, moved here with her husband and they started a bookstore called Eureka Books. It’s still family-owned and they do a really good job.”
Great spot for a stroll: “At the Waterfront, you can look over the marina and see the houses on Woodley Island on the other side of the bay. The trail goes all the way through Eureka, and it’s currently being connected to the Arcata trail. Eventually, you’ll be able to walk all the way from one town to the other. The paved path is also good for biking or roller skating.”
Family fun: “The number-one spot for kids is the Sequoia Park Zoo. It has a petting zoo and an otter exhibit with a plastic tunnel that kids can climb through and be right next to the otters.”
Candy shop: “Partrick’s makes really good candy. Their chocolate-covered candies are sort of like the local, homemade version of See’s.”
Watch the sunset: “Trinidad Head, just north of Eureka, is where a lot of people go to take photos as the sun sets behind the rocks. There’s also a tiny little lighthouse there and a trail that goes down to the beach.”