Roadside stop along the Avenue of the Giants

Throw the kiddies in the car and head North on 101 to Garberville for a family-friendly getaway with the most spectacular of wooden wonders—it will inspire even the littlest of nature enthusiasts. Four hours North of the Bay Area, the natural crown jewel of the county is Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This is the definitive spot to see the magnificence of California’s famous old growth coastal redwoods.

Drive The Avenue of The Giants

Begin the adventure with the scenic and spectacular 32-mile drive along the Avenue of The Giants. Hop out of the car at one of the many roadside trail-head turnouts and take a quick hike into the groves. Snap a picture with an ancient giant and enjoy the feeling of being small.

Take a Dip in an Old Fashioned Swimming Hole

One of the most striking features of  Humboldt County is the magnificent crystal-clear waters of the Eel River and the abundance of old-fashioned natural swimming holes. Four miles south of the town of Redcrest, and on the left, is the Dyerville Bar Road sign. The gravel road next to it goes directly down to the bar and  swimming hole located along the near side of the Eel River. Ample parking, restrooms, picnic tables and four natural history graphics are featured at this overlook facility above the two rivers, where there are expansive views in three directions. Leatherwood Bar is another great kid-friendly option featuring a good stretch of open water with a long sandy beach. From Dyerville Overlook drive south briefly on the Avenue of the Giants to the Freeway South sign on your right. Go right toward the on-ramp. Turn right immediately at the first gravel road then drive 1/2 mile down until you reach the beach area.

Eel River at the Albee Creek Campground

Camp in the Shadow of an Ancient Forest
The peaceful village of Myers Flat is nestled in the heart of the redwood forest, and is the centerpiece of the Avenue of the Giants.  A short five-mile drive away you will find the visitor center as well as a couple of great camping options. Albee Creek Campground is our pick for top places to stay in the area. Whether you take one of the many kid-friendly hikes right out of the campground or just a short stroll down to the Eel river to wade the afternoon away, this campground is a great base for your Redwood Adventure. Not into roughing it? The Miranda Gardens Resort offers all the family amenities in their one- and two-bedroom cabins. Featuring outfitted kitchens, a BBQ,private patios or decks,  and enough space inside for even the Pack ‘n Play. The resort has a heated pool and a playground onsite if the day’s adventures weren’t enough to wear them out. Rates start at $105/night which includes a continental breakfast during the summer season.

See the Travel Log at the Visitors Center
Inside the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Visitor Center resides a curious behemoth of a vehicle which may just be the original RV. As a complete home it boasts a kitchenette, lockers, beds, dining table, dresser, electric lights, running water and a guest room. It gives a whole new meaning to “roughing it”. Take the time to pick up some information on the hiking options nearby including the Founders Grove Walk which is an easy 1/2 mile self guided trip that includes the Founder’s tree (346 ft. tall) and the Dyerville Giant (~370 ft. tall) which fell down in 1991.

The Shrine Tree

Drive Through a Tree
Three trees with open trunks remain from the 1920s, when the touristy attraction of “Drive-Thru Trees” began. The Shrine Tree is one of California ‘s oldest and is located in Myers Flat off Highway 101 on the Avenue of the Giants. With a diameter of 21 feet and a hollow natural tunnel (caused by a fire), you can actually see through to the sky above. Your entry fee into the Shrine Tree Park also admits you to the Step-Thru Stump, Drive-On Tree, Rings of History, and a pretty fancy  two-story tree house designed just for the little ones. Be aware, once they climb up inside the tower you might have a hard time convincing them to come back down.

The Tour-Thru Tree in Klamath is a whopping 700 years old and 90 feet tall (the top of the tree was blown off in a storm). Pack a snack and have a potty stop, there is a picnic table as well as a modern restroom uniquely located inside an eight-foot diameter redwood trunk. The Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett stands 315 feet high and has a diameter of 21 feet with the tunnel measuring about six-feet wide by nine-feet tall. After an exhilarating drive through the tree, enjoy a picnic, view the duck pond, or wander through some of the park’s 250 acres of redwood grove.


Grab a Local Bite

With an expansive menu with more kid favorites than we could count, Deb’s Great American Hamburgers in Redway is a great place to grab a bite or even stop for  Sunday breakfast. The Avenue Cafe, 6 miles south in Miranda, is gem of a local restaurant featuring pizzas, gigantic calzones, and other Italian style cuisine. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served, and takeout is  available. Serving up locally grown and fresh cuisine in Garberville is the Woodrose Cafe. Lots of options for the little ones including grilled cheese sandwiches that will be gobbled up before you blink, unique daily specials featuring local ingredients, and a firm stand with no diet drinks, no decaffeinated sodas, and all organic sweeteners.

–Drea Lester