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SNIFF THE AIR. The seasons have changed and summer has passed. How will you keep those kids engaged? And how will you keep yourself from hibernating? Flip through these pages for ways to have fun as a family or find a new hobby for yourself. Either way, Humboldt County provides thrills, chills and excitement. What do a whiffle ball, a badminton net and a wood paddle have in common? Pickleball! It'll have you whacking that whiffle with a solid wallop. Use the seasonal climate to satisfy your inner gourmand. Can you hear Humboldt's delicious cheese and pastries calling your name? Then perhaps some pleasurable exertion among the towering titan trees of Humboldt. Stop by one of Humboldt's artists cooperatives on the way home to jumpstart the collection of your dreams. There is always a great way to spend a day in Humboldt!

click to enlarge Indoor pickleball at the Adorni Center. - HUMBOLDT INSIDER
  • Humboldt Insider
  • Indoor pickleball at the Adorni Center.

Outdoorsy Types

Humboldt County is blessed with miles upon miles of the best fishing in America. Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss for those ichthy-nerds out there) are waiting to mess with your head, playing hide and seek as they slip through the clear waters of the Van Duzen River. A favorite of fall/winter sport fishers, steelhead are catch and release if wild, but those raised in hatcheries are fair game! Impress friends with knowing how to tell a hatchery steelhead (hint: the adipose fin has been removed) and avoid fines. Or hire one of Humboldt's wise guides to point you to treasured fishing holes and leave the fin ID to the professionals. Hit the California Fish and Game webpage (wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations) for current catch restrictions.

Thwack! Thwack! that's the sound of Pickleball. The Humboldt Bay Pickleball League invites you to enjoy the newest game to sweep the nation. Indoor and outdoor courts can be found all over Humboldt County: Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Fortuna, Loleta, McKinleyville and Shelter Cove. Veteran-run paddlemaker Redwoods Pickleball (redwoodspickleball.com) presents demos in McKinleyville for those who want to try the sport before investing in equipment. Cal Poly Humboldt's courts are for students, staff and alumni, but if you're 50 and up, you can take an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute course to see if becoming a pickler tickles your fancy. Find the Humboldt Bay Pickleball Club on Facebook and humboldtbaypickleball.weebly.com for court calendars to schedule a game. Or grab a paddle and join an open game.

"Be the rock!" I heard a mother implore her young son as he clung to a boulder in a state park. Start by learning how to rock climb indoors. Far North Climbing Gym and Cal Poly Humboldt have the indoor rock climbing facilities you need to learn safely. Far Rock (1065 K St., Suite C, Arcata, 707-826-9558) offers day passes and memberships for adults, veterans, students and children. The gym rents the required equipment for you to test the ropes before you free climb. Learn as a family or enroll the kids in the Spider Monkeys afterschool program so you all know an arete (vertical corner facing out) from a dihedral (vertical corner that opens like a book). Cal Poly Humboldt (707-826-3357) has two Student Recreation Centers with climbing facilities open to students, faculty and Alumni Association members with day, month and semester passes. Equipment rentals are available there, too. Get climbing and use carabiners for more than holding keys.

click to enlarge Work by local artists and craftspeople at Trinidad Art Gallery. - HUMBOLDT INSIDER
  • Humboldt Insider
  • Work by local artists and craftspeople at Trinidad Art Gallery.

Artsy Types

Leave it to the budget conscious Ink People Center for the Arts to introduce you to your new hobby. Pick up your pencils, paper and $10 ($5 for students/seniors), then head down to Synapsis Union (1675 Union St., Eureka) for Life Drawing with Clinton Alley. The shared performance space gives over its stage to the artist within you on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. Can you smell the pencil shavings? Perhaps you prefer charcoals? If you want to support the arts in another way, the group is always happy to have a new live model. Email [email protected] or call (707) 362-9392 to start your next artistic endeavor.

The Arcata Artisans Gallery (883 H St., Arcata, 707-825-9133) is bursting with treasures. The cooperative, active since 2003, exhibits their work on Arcata Plaza, enticing you to collect both beautiful and intense art — haunting photography, inspiring prints and ceramics designed to enthrall. Check their website (arcataartisans.com) for upcoming shows, including the anticipated winter group shows. Each member artist has a page, so you can check out their work from the comfort of home. Of course, viewing artwork on exhibit is a 3D experience. Whether you love fiber arts, a beautifully painted landscape or handcrafted jewelry, there will be something at the Arcata Artisans Gallery that you will want to take home with you.

Another artists' cooperative worthy of pilgrimage is the Trinidad Art Gallery (490 Trinity St., Trinidad, 707-677-3770). Ned Simmons bought the Riecke House with a vision of Trinidad Art, a gallery in his home. After Simmons died in 2011, the cooperative took on his mission the next year. The talent exhibited within the 1900 Italianate Victorian cottage is easy to see. Visit the website at trinidadartgallery.com for a preview. Read the artists' biographies to get a peek into their creative inspirations. Better yet, visit in person. Be seduced by the intricate textures of a mixed media piece or a sculpture that calls out to you. Have you ever admired the delicate art of a silk painting? Now's your chance.

click to enlarge Cookies and cinnamon rolls at Erlei's Bakin' It. - HUMBOLDT INSIDER
  • Humboldt Insider
  • Cookies and cinnamon rolls at Erlei's Bakin' It.

Foodies

If you haven't waited in line for one of Sherry Erlei's cinnamon rolls, you're missing out. Sherry and Joe opened Erlei's Bakin It (444 Main St., Ferndale, 707-786-9800) in 2019 and have delighted local taste buds ever since. Breads, muffins and pies (oh, the pies!) await. Grab a coffee, some milk and a dozen cookies guaranteed to put a smile on your tyke's face. Stop in for a sandwich before you stroll Main Street. You can also call to order gluten free and vegan options. The cinnamon rolls roll out at 9:30 a.m. so be prepared to socialize. Hit Erlei's Facebook page to begin salivating as soon as possible. Because pastry deserve to be worshipped.

Humboldt's bounty is on offer at Sea Goat Farmstand (1450 Hiller Road, McKinleyville). The nonprofit micro farm, an astounding cornucopia on a tiny third of an acre, provides organic produce 11 months of the year (even Mother Nature takes a break in January), Thursday to Saturday. The farmstead also sells the produce of other local growers and wares from many talented artisans. The farmstead's Maker's Space is a new addition where you can learn how to make sauerkraut or citrus cordials, as well as arts and crafts like printmaking. Run by project manager Megan Blumenstein and studio manager Katie Mather, Sea Goat combines the philosophy of local fresh food and sustainability that feeds your creativity, be it soul or stomach. Visit early on Saturday to snag a coveted sourdough loaf from Humboldt Baking Co. Or volunteer and learn regenerative farming practices. Permaculture is a beautiful thing.

La Mancha dairy goats raised on Bayside grass give Spring Hill Farmstead Goat Cheese (707-616-1093) the cheese to make you happy. Karin Eide left the rat race behind when she decided goats were much more fun. Her care of her goats is reflected in her cheese. Take Greta, not a goat but a spreadable cheese blended with rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme. It is a light delight on a thin cracker. Spring Hill Farmstead offers a cheesemaking class every spring (email for details). You can call to schedule a tour to see the happy goats that are born, raised, and retired on Spring Hill. Look for Eide at the Saturday Arcata Farmers Market to find out why thistle rennet is the best. Or pick up some Pepita (think organic roasted peppers), whole milk ricotta or marinated feta at other Humboldt locations like — hey! — Sea Goat Farmstand.

click to enlarge A wall of games at Dandar's Boardgames and Books. - HUMBOLDT INSIDER
  • Humboldt Insider
  • A wall of games at Dandar's Boardgames and Books.

With the Kids

The Media Arts Resource Center (MARZ) has the tools to nurture young creativity. The MARZ Project (627 Third St., Eureka, 707-442-8413) is an incredible program that provides video and music mentoring to anyone ages 12 to 26. Artistic expression is encouraged with free access to training and equipment. Drop-in hours for the 2023-24 school year are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m. This is exactly what your budding cinematic artiste requires to get them ready for the annual MARZ North Coast Film Camp for students 14-18. Mentors Cory Goldman (music) and Jay Tilghman (video) are eager to help. Email them at [email protected] or contact them via social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or SoundCloud).

Arcata City Pool (1150 16th St., Arcata, 707-822-6801) has the cure for those rainy-day blues. You're gonna get wet anyway! The kids have been bouncing off the walls. Expend that pent up energy with a family swim. It is impossible to not giggle when riding down a slide that ends with a splash. You can rent the slide and/or pool for a Saturday afternoon of absolute joy for your child to share with their whole class. Or make sure your little can swim as they progress from tadpole to advanced seahorse class.

The family that plays together, laughs together. Dandar's Boardgames and Books (1264 Giuntoli Lane Suite A, Arcata, 707-630-5200) hosts a free, family-friendly community game night. Borrow a game from their library or bring one of your own. There is even space for TTRPGs (that's table-top role-playing games for you newbs). Whether you love the settlement building of Catan (ages 10+), the adventure of Forbidden Island (ages 10+) or the storytelling of Dixit (ages 8+), there is plenty to choose from. Check Dandar's website (boardgamesandbooks.com) for times and location. If the children are a bit small for community play, Dandar's has all the tools you need to start your own official Family Boardgame Night.

click to enlarge Mountain biking in the McKay Community Forest. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Mountain biking in the McKay Community Forest.

Not Strictly for Tourists

Humboldt's Hometown Store (394 Main St., Ferndale, 707-496-0588), owned by North Coast Journal Inc., has a room dedicated to the locally raised Mayor of Flavortown Guy Fieri. Before he rose to the height of foodie stardom as the face of the Food Network, Fieri was a little Guy hawking homemade pretzels from a cart. All fandom aside, there is a reason his cookbooks and sauces sell. Taste for yourself! Drop in the Hometown Store to elevate your menu with some sriracha barbeque sauce. Pick up a collectible Fieri Funko Pop (the modern equivalent of bobblehead homage) to put in your kitchen for encouragement. Give your personal chef a Knuckle Sandwich — not a punch, but one of Fieri's line of ergonomic knives. Check the Hometown Store website (humboldtshometownstore.com) for hours and other talented local makers.

When majestic thousand-year-old redwoods revered by Indigenous peoples fell under the threat of logging, the fight to save the trees from the lumbermills began. Did you know Ferndale's own Zipporah Russ (the namesake of Russ Park's Zipporah's Pond) donated the first 160-acre grove which led to the creation of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Nelson B. Drury Parkway, Orick, 707-488-2039)? Celebrate the park's centennial with a visit to Joseph and Zipporah Russ Memorial Grove, the first dedicated grove in the park. You can find the Russ Grove by taking the Karl Knapp Trail Access No. 1 from wayside parking off Nelson B. Drury Parkway just north of Big Tree Wayside, or park in the lot at Big Tree and venerate the colossus before taking Foothill Trail Access No. 1 north to Karl Knapp.

Hiking at McKay Community Forest (5371 Northridge Road, Cutten) is always fun, but have you tried biking it? The winding trails of Eureka's newest park wait for you to lay down some tracks. The rolling hills are perfect to break in your new mountain bike. The park welcomes hikers, horses and bicyclists, and has some ADA trail, too. The 1,194-acre forest is a work in progress, with 4 miles of trail accessed by the Northridge Parking Area. A ride through the trees is just what you need after a long week.

Humboldt waits to tickle your fancy. All you have to do is take the first step to adventure.

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Meg Wall-Wild

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