Redwood Classroom

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Eureka makes a good base for visiting other Humboldt County attractions, like Arcata, an arty college town built around a central plaza, and Ferndale, a Victorian village in dairy country. There the stores on Main Street stick to the theme: There’s a blacksmith shop where you can buy just the right wrought-iron hook for your fern and a clothing store selling picturesque hats and flowing dresses.

Not far from Ferndale is the start of the thirty-three-mile scenic drive through redwood forest known as the Avenue of the Giants. The trees are so straight and tall, the road so romantically curving that I kept pulling over to take a picture. The Avenue of the Giants ends at Phillipsville, near Garberville, where you can have dinner or stay overnight at the Benbow Inn, a resort built in 1926 overlooking the Eel River. The antiques for the lobby have been chosen with flair, and the elegant dining room looks out on the moss-covered limbs of a venerable black oak tree. With its many fireplaces the Benbow Inn would make a fine place to spend New Year’s Eve or Christmas.

“Don’t turn back after Garberville,” advised Ken Josephs, the bell captain at the Eureka Inn. “The drive is spectacular all the way to Santa Rosa.” Next time. Until then, back home in Brooklyn, I think of the Blue Ox Millworks every time my hand runs down the banister.

—Jane Colihan TO PLAN A TRIP