California’s Kitschy North Coast

Photo by Brenna

Quirky stops along Northern California's Redwood Coast

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Crown California’s Redwood Highway the King of Kitsch. Quirky locals constructed some wacky sites to behold. None of these cost much. And all make decent pit-stops as you tour the epic Redwood Coast.

This itinerary travels from the northern part of Mendocino County through Del Norte County. Straight through, the drive from Ukiah to Crescent City takes about four hours. But that’s assuming you don’t stop to drive through redwoods, or check out kinetic sculptures.


The largest city of Mendocino County, Ukiah houses a massive international Buddhist community billed the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Here you can enjoy a lovely vegetarian lunch on most days, or stroll the grounds.

Just outside of town, Vichy Springs Hot Springs Resort boasts the only champagne mineral pools in California. Before continue north, grab pizza (the Hot Lei is a favorite) at Saucy.


Willits like its complexity. It’s a cowboy boot-wearing, tofu-eating town, where folks grown wine grapes, and like a good old-fashioned rodeo. US-101 cuts right through the center of town. Pass tie-dye shops, cafes, co-op groceries, and locals lounging on the backs of pick up trucks.

Here you can catch the Skunk Train to the coast. Like the Willits vibe? Check into the Baechtel Creek Inn and Spa.


For those itching to motor through a redwood tree, meander north to the tiny town of Leggett. Gas through the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not Treehouse is a gift shop built inside the base of a living redwood.


Confusion Hill defies definition. It’s a gravity-challenged house. A place where balls seem to float uphill. Pop into the Peg House for organic lunch and to snap pics of an old cop car driven by space aliens.


Garberville was made popular by an annual reggae festival. To date, this tiny town emotes a sense of retro appeal. Wacky joints like Woodrose Cafe line the one-street town.

Garberville’s biggest appeal is its accessibility to the Avenue of the Giants. Here you can check out the Grandfather Tree and nearby One-Log House made of, you guessed it, one redwood trunk.

Stay at the Benbow Inn to further explore the region.

Avenue of the Giants

Along the impressive and lovely Avenue of the Giants, there’s plenty to appeal to your silly bone. Along the road be sure to stop at Hobbitown Immortal Tree, and if you missed your chance earlier, visit the Shrine-Drive Thru Tree. Stay the night at Miranda Gardens.


This former logging town transports you to another era. Small shops line the main drag. Seems everyone knows each other’s name.

The best way to experience the region is with a tour of Humboldt Bay on the Makadet. Visit the Kinetic Museum to get a feel for the region’s funkiest festival.

Grab huge plates of meat at Samoa Cookhouse.


Adored for its chilled out vibe, Arcata’s wacky appeal resides on almost every corner. Enjoy a picnic on the Arcata Square, attend a Humboldt Crabs minor league baseball game. Grub on funky bagels at Los Bagels.

Check into the Hotel Arcata to see if the joint is really haunted or not.

===> Explore more local itineraries via the RELATED links below.

Willow Creek

It doesn’t get much funkier than a town constructed on the belief that Bigfoot exists. Explore Yeti lore at the Willow Creek China Flat Museum. Stroll through the various Bigfoot themed restaurants and shops along the river town.

If you’re really smitten with this area, stay the night at Coho Cottages. Drive up the Bigfoot Scenic Byway to try and spot ole Sasquatch.


Once you pass through Redwood National and State Park, check out the Trees of Mystery. Snap a photo in front of the 50-foot-tall Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues.

Also nearby is Klamath’s Drive-Thru Tree in case you missed your chance to zoom through a redwood farther south.

Crescent City and around

The highlight of a visit to Del Norte County is access to uncrowded redwood parks. In terms of quirkiness, visit Ocean World. This small aquarium offers a glimpse into the small-town vibe of California’s northernmost community.

Inland, book a room and dinner at the historic Patrick Creek Lodge.

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