A fairytale come to life, this remote village features carefully preserved Victorian-era century homes, a visual and architectural feast. On a peaceful foggy morning or sunny afternoon, stroll Main Street to see buildings in all their gingerbread finery; many buildings now house B&Bs, artisan chocolatiers, galleries, and craft shops. (Holidays are especially magical, with locals stringing twinkly lights everywhere, and horse-drawn carriages giving clip-clop rides around town.)
"But no, this is no façade dressed up for show only."
But no, this is no façade dressed up for show only. Ferndale is very much a working town, the provenance of Scandinavian, Swiss-Italian, and Portuguese immigrants who settled the tucked-away community in the mid-1800s, drawn here by the booming dairy industry. Read their names in Ferndale’s 1868 cemetery, one of the state’s most beautiful burial sites. Take in sweeping views of the one-square-mile town. Let your eyes follow the Eel River westward to the sea, five miles away—a view little changed since those settlers came here long ago.
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.
With more than 4,000 wineries statewide, California lets you sample award-winning wines almost anywhere you go. These classic and up-and-coming wine roads—some too packed with wineries to tackle...
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...