The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Garberville and Redway
Apart from its recurring presence in the national media during the occasional high-profile raids on local “medical marijuana” plantations, the redwood country town of Garberville is a pretty quiet, peaceful place. The US-101 freeway bypasses the town, and locals walk and talk to each other along the half dozen blocks of Redwood Drive, the well-signed business loop off the highway.
Enjoy an early-morning breakfast with the old-time locals at the Eel River Cafe (801 Redwood Dr., 707/923-3783), or an espresso and healthy food at the Woodrose Café (911 Redwood Dr., 707/923-3191), a block south. Garberville also has all the motels you could want, including the Motel Garberville (948 Redwood Dr., 707/923-2422, $50 and up).
Two miles west of Garberville on the old highway, Redway is worth the short side trip for an organic burger at Deb’s Great American Hamburgers (3340 Redwood Dr., 707/923-2244), or a slice of pizza or fine dinner at The Mateel Cafe (3344 Redwood Dr., 707/923-2030), a health-conscious gourmet haunt at the center of town. The Reggae on the River festival, organized by the energetic Mateel Community Center (59 Rusk Lane, 707/923-3368), attracts world-class performers and thousands of fans every July.
Along US-101, four miles south of Garberville, one of the region’s most characterful places is the stately Benbow Historic Inn (445 Lake Benbow Dr., 707/923-2124, $99 and up), a circa-1926 mock Tudor hotel with a nice restaurant offering afternoon tea and scones on a sunny terrace overlooking Lake Benbow.