By Cheri March
When the thermometer’s pushing 100, the car feels like a sauna, and you’re wilting faster than your tomato plants, the lazy days of summer can feel downright sluggish. In the midst of a sizzling California heat wave, a trip to the quaint historic town of Ferndale on the temperate North Coast can be just the breath of fresh air you need to relax and rejuvenate – what summer’s supposed to be all about, after all. Sure, there are other destinations for a cool escape along the Northern California coast. But here’s why we think Ferndale, California is the best place to beat the heat this summer.
The temperature is always just right
With our North Coast location, Ferndale enjoys what’s known as a cool-summer Mediterranean climate. That means winters are mild and rainy and summers are cool and mostly dry, save for the occasional layer of light mist. Here in Ferndale, it’s never too hot to leave the windows open for a cool ocean breeze. It’s never too scorching for a leisurely stroll or bike ride through town. And we promise your ice cream will never melt before you can finish the cone.
True, you probably won’t want to lounge on the beach in a swimsuit, but most visitors find it's a nice change of pace to feel comfortable in jeans and t-shirts with light layers - a Ferndale local's year-round uniform.
You’ll escape the crowds
The problem with most popular summer destinations is just that – they’re popular. And that can mean time stuck in traffic and battling crowds. With our off-the-beaten-path location, status as a real working town (rather than a tourist destination), and modest population (dairy cows outnumber people here), you’re guaranteed secluded beaches, peaceful hiking trails and plenty of time to mingle with friendly locals and fall into a laid-back summer routine.
Sure, it takes some time to get to Ferndale; by car, it’s about 5 hours from San Francisco and Sacramento, 8 hours from Portland and 3-1/2 hours from Redding. But we're worth the effort, and the scenery alone – which, depending on which way you arrive, can include vineyards, farmland, mountains and old-growth forests – is reason enough for the drive.
The beach is just down the road
Summer and the beach go together like bonfires and s’mores, both of which you can enjoy at Centerville Beach County Park, a long stretch of sandy coastline located just five miles from Ferndale. Flanked by farmland, bluffs and the Lost Coast Headlands (part of the newly expanded California Coastal National Monument) to the south, and dunes and the mouth of the Eel River to the north, Centerville Beach is a paradise for beachcombing, birdwatching, wildlife viewing and general relaxation. Like many beaches here on the Redwood Coast, Centerville is rarely crowded, making it the perfect setting for family fun – from kite flying, sand castle making and off-leash dog romping to romantic walks, epic sunsets and cozy bonfires.
It’s the perfect launching point for the summer trip of a lifetime
Giant redwoods? Check. Beautiful beaches? Yep. Historic architecture? Oh yeah. Ferndale happens to be conveniently located smack dab in the middle of Humboldt County and the Redwood Coast’s biggest attractions, from Redwoods State and National Parks to the historic North Coast cities of Eureka and Arcata. Rather than hopping from place to place, settle into life in our charming coastal village - where you can get to know the shops, restaurants and people as you discover one of California’s most scenic but least traveled regions at your leisure. From Ferndale, drive out the rugged Wildcat, the only road that runs right alongside the Lost Coast before turning inland at the tiny town of Petrolia. Just an hour south on Highway 101, you can stand next to the world’s tallest trees—you can even drive through one at The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree in Myers Flat.
An hour north, watch for migratory whales in early summer at the fantastically beautiful Patrick’s Point State Park or go kayaking in Trinidad Cove. Just a short drive away in Eureka, marvel at over-the-top Victorian architecture, explore Humboldt Bay by boat cruise, and sample local food at Humboldt Bay Provisions.
Then, after a day full of activity, return “home” to the laid-back atmosphere and friendly folks of Ferndale.
Next time you’re looking to cool off, come to Ferndale to discover what locals already know - we’re not just an escape from the heat, but from the ordinary.