Adventure is easier than you think. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars or fly for hours to have those vacation vibes. There’s easy-accessibly beauty you can enjoy by traveling local. It’s all about collecting stories, exploring new places and going on adventures that shake you out of Autopilot Living.
In the Weekend Trip series, I’ll share recommendations, travel tips and stories to inspire you to plan your next adventure. Every featured location is in the North California/South Oregon area and all recommendations are for a $50-70 budget for the whole weekend (including food and accommodation).
Fall is by far my favorite season. Fire place, tea, slow fog covering the mountain, pumpkin spice lattes, books, leather boots, birthdays and fiery trees. As a redhead, it was crafted in my DNA that I would fall in love with the season whose colors I resemble.
Combine all that Autumn glory with the rough NorCal coastline and you have an ideal situation to celebrate my birthday. After an amazing birthday brunch, I left together with one of my best friends, Lisa, to Eureka for a perfect Birthday Weekend Autumn Coastal Getaway (catchy name huh). I know the first day of Winter was last week, but it’s never to late to share a travel adventure with the world.
Although Google Maps tells you it’s only a 3 hour drive, you can easily add an extra hour to that if it’s raining. And raining it did, the whole weekend. But rain comes from clouds (shocker, I know) and clouds create the most gorgeous compositions in the mountains. When I wasn’t frantically staring at the car in front of me to make sure I wouldn’t fly into the deep cliff at the next corner, I was sitting next to Lisa and trying to take pictures of the beauty we were passing through. Seriously, the drive itself is already worth the trip. The clouds, the mountains, the river next to you, the cute towns… Where were we going again?
Usually my only prerequisite for an Airbnb is a private bedroom in a safe neighborhood. When you arrive late at night and you leave early in the morning to continue exploring, you are not going to use the rest of the house anyways. But this weekend, both Lisa and I were tired and not feeling like being out and about the whole time. When I spend more time inside, I really prefer having more space and privacy. We were so happy to find a lovely Airbnb in the middle of Eureka that didn’t only have a private entrance, but also our own living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom as a separate apartment next to the main house. It was perfect.
It was raining so hard the first night that we were completely soaked to the bone after a 10-minute walk around Old Town Eureka. That may sound terrible, but again, I love Fall. My soul is so dehydrated after the scorching heat of a Redding-summer that I welcome every little drop of heaven with open arms. Literally. I jumped in puddles like a kid and ran to the bay like a crazy person. We abandoned our initial plan of going out to dinner, cause by this point we were dripping, shivering and we looked like two disturbed pandas (thanks “waterproof” mascara). We decided to take advantage of our nice Airbnb and cook our own dinner and watch a movie instead.
Travel Tip #1: One word. It starts with an A and ends in irbnb. Big fan. In my opinion, it has revolutionized the way we travel. You have hundreds of accommodation options all over the world in different price ranges, from a couch in someone’s living room for $15 to your own villa for $250 a night. You get to meet locals who have great recommendation and inside information, you have access to a kitchen and it’s all for a fraction of what you would pay for a crappy motel or hostel.
Worried about safety? Airbnb has a great feedback system where guests review hosts and hosts review guests. I personally never stay with a host who doesn’t have at least five good reviews and I only stay with single women or families with kids, unless I’m traveling with my brother or dad. I don’t stay at an Airbnb when I’m traveling alone, I always let someone know my itinerary and text them once in a while with an update.
If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet, I can give you $35 off of your first Airbnb stay if you sign up through this link.
Travel Tip #2: If you already have an Airbnb account, but know someone who doesn’t, you can send them your own referral link so both your friend and you get $35 travel credit. In the app, go to Profile – Get travel Credit – Invite Friends.
Old-Town Eureka means antiques, bookstores, colorful Victorian houses, fall leaves on mosaic tiles and little lanterns at night. It’s cute. Tiny, closed on evenings and Sundays and small-town quiet, but very cute. Locals recommend Los Bagels as a breakfast or lunch place, and Brick and Fire for dinner. Lisa and I skipped both because we had packed the leftovers from the massive birthday brunch, but we did drink coffee. We sat in Old Town Coffee for a few hours to write and read and dry up and drink Fall drinks with too much syrup and were content.
Although the town is cute and not too far from the 299, next time my soul craves some ocean, I will be looking at accommodation in Trinidad, Arcada or even closer to Patrick’s point. It’s a bit inconvenient to have to drive 30 minutes for the first real beach, and Eureka itself is not so special that it cannot be missed. If you’re craving characteristic towns with enough interesting people to peoplewatch for hours: stay in Eureka. If you’re going for sand between your toes, sound of crashing waves, wind messing up your hair and long walks between massive trees and violent ocean… take a right turn at the end of the 299 and skip Eureka all together.
The signs of the Highway 1 north of Eureka basically look like this: Beach – lake – beach – another beach – an even prettier beach – the most beautiful beach you’ve ever… – oh, welcome to the Redwoods. You can’t really take a wrong exit, just randomly pick one and enjoy the surprise. We went to Moonstone Beach, and drove further north to Trinidad Beach.
At Trinidad State beach, you walk down to an incredible beach through a maze of adventurous paths starting at the parking lot. Some of those small trails actually lead to a nearby forrest that has a creek, gorgeous trees and the soundtrack of crashing waves in the background. We wandered around for most of the afternoon, just picking the trail that looked the most interesting and following a general sense of direction to find our way back to the car. We decided to skip the Redwoods this time, so we could be home on time for another busy work week. We went for a quick bite to eat at The Lighthouse Grill, which had pretty good, grass-fed beef burgers in homemade buns. We didn’t try their specialty (just reading the name “mashed potato waffle cone” made me a little nauseous already), but if you did, please let me know what it’s like.
“Salt water is the remedy for everything.
Tears, sweat and the ocean. “
I hope you can find some time this month to catch the wind and waves at the North California coast. Until then… you can find some Portland city trip posts on the blog next week!