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Beautiful Victorian houses and quaint antique shops, and moving through town you'll find your way to Mattole River Road - a narrow, winding, but incomparable drive
3. Mattole River Road
This is an amazing drive from antique filled Ferndale along a raw and twisted coast, with stunning ocean views, lighthouses, a few cows and horses - hardly any other cars and no civilization past Cape Mendocino. After moving inland through the town of Honeydew, it will take you out through the redwoods and onto hwy. 101 again. Not for the car sick!
This is one of the last "company towns" around California, and as such is historically interesting. The old hotel is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, and the restaurant excellent if somewhat expensive. It is also quite interesting to take the self guiding tour of the massive lumber mill here.
Trees, trees, very big trees. Shops you can stop in made from tree trunks. Cabins made from tree trunks. Great espresso shakes in shops made from tree trunks and logs. Mighty logs. And of course there are Drive Through Trees (don't bring your Expedition) and hokey attractions like Confusion Hill (we go to lots of these gravity doesn't apply type of places - the best one we've found in Montana, near Glacier National Park but that's another story).
And of course there are still growing, beautiful trees along with all the kitsch.
In our family's opinion a great place to stay. Relatively inexpensive and centrally located - from here you can easily visit Ferndale, Scotia, Avenue of the Trees, and less conveniently, Shelter Cove on the lost coast. They don't call it lost for nothing. Garberville is closer to Shelter Cove, but in our opinion the accomodations are less attractive and/or substantially more expensive; there's a certain just passing through feeling to that community that isn't particularly welcoming. Fortuna is a real town, with an excellent brew pub that serves dinner LATE - so you can do your drives and hikes and hit the motel hot tub before you eat - at least we did.
Yes, Mendocino is more picturesque, but here you'll find the beach with the sea-smoothed pieces of glass- hours of picking fun, and nothing else like it anywhere we've seen. A good stop on the way to or from San Francisco. Lots of nice beaches just north of town - and if you have four wheel drive consider accessing the Lost Coast north of Westport instead of going up the 101 and then swinging west from Garberville.