7 Ways to Escape the Winter Blues

Depending on where you live, the winter season can lead to a case of the “winter blues.” What is the reason for this down-in-the-dumps feeling? The shorter, colder, and grayer months of winter mean less daylight, UV rays, time spent outdoors, and physical activity. After weeks, we can begin feeling tired, unmotivated, and even sad. Do you struggle with wintertime blues? If so, one important remedy can be to travel. While heading someplace sunny and warm can be great, just getting out of your natural environment and experiencing new sights, sounds and smells can take you off autopilot and awaken your soul to help you feel alive again. Science has shown that taking time to get away will likely improve your mood and your health. Where to go? We have just the place. Here are 7 ways to escape the winter blues on Northern California’s Redwood Coast.

  1. Head to Black Sands Beach at Shelter Cove
    This quiet, secluded and unique strip of sand is a haven of natural beauty. Voted one of the 11 Top Bucket List Beaches of California, Black Sands Beach is truly a must-see. Located in Whitehorn, CA, about 90 miles north of The Redwood Hotel, you’ll find this unique beach nestled in the northern part of Shelter Cove, otherwise known as the gateway to California’s famous “Lost Coast.” This famous strip of coast is where Humboldt County’s King Mountain Range meets the Pacific Ocean. Why is it considered lost? When highway builders were extending famous State Route 1 (the “Shoreline Highway”), they decided to steer clear of this stretch of coast due to its steep terrain. As a result, you can only access the Lost Coast by a small mountain road, or by boat or plane (Shelter Cove has a small airport nearby). But believe us, the end result is well worth the trek. Of all the beaches though, Black Sands Beach is the easiest to get to. From Shelter Cove Road, turn onto Beach Road until you arrive at the parking lot. After parking your car, the beach is just a short jaunt away. High tide makes the beach inaccessible, so plan accordingly.
  2. Hang Out at Old Town Coffee & Chocolates in Eureka, CA
    What is it about coffee shops that draw people? It’s likely the sounds and smells of making coffee in all its forms, from straight up black to a frothy flavored cappuccino. The world loves coffee – it’s the second most traded commodity on the globe. Of course, along with coffee you’ll often experience the aroma of delicious treats. Coffee shops are simply great places to sit, sip and read, study or work, or enjoy stimulating conversation. During your trip to the Redwood Coast, be sure to visit Old Town Coffee & Chocolates in Eureka. Located in the heart of beautiful Old Town, just a block from the Eureka boardwalk, you’ll find in-house fresh roasted coffees and espresso specialty drinks, pastries, donuts, cookies and cakes, scrumptious confections, fudge and truffles, and even… tasty menus, local beer and wine. This popular java joint has been voted the Best Specialty Coffee, Coffee House, Humboldt County Product for Fresh Fudge, Dessert, and Entertainment by readers of the Times-Standard and the North Coast Journal.
  3. Visit the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge
    Humboldt Bay is impressive for several reasons. For starters, it’s the second largest enclosed bay in the State of California: 14 miles long and 4.5 miles at its widest point. This richly diverse habitat for wildlife, plants, and endangered species will satisfy any nature-lover’s desires. The number of wildlife species is quite extraordinary with over 260 species of birds, 95 species of fish, 50 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, and a plethora of invertebrates. The habitat includes a complex blend of fresh, brackish, and saltwater wetlands, which contributes to the rich diversity. In addition to wildlife, you’ll also find about 220 species of native plants and hundreds of species of lichen, mosses, algae and fungi due to the range of habitats on the refuge’s estuarine, dune, and wetland ecosystems.If you plan to visit this winter, here’s what you can expect. February brings adult steelhead and coho salmon as they travel up the local rivers and streams to spawn, and you will likely catch a glimpse of river otters in the sloughs. Keep an eye for the first wallflowers as they begin blooming in the dunes. These flowers are especially important because they are currently endangered. In March, look and listen for large western Canada geese and mallards as they begin to nest, as well as willow and alder buds as they begin to leaf out. The month of April is peak migration season, so you will be treated to the greatest number and diversity of birds as they travel through the area. Visit the Refuge’s Seasons of Wildlife page to discover what happens in this delightful refuge the rest of the year.
  4. Take a Guided Walk in Humboldt County with Friends of the Dunes
    Friends of the Dunes offers Guided Walks of Humboldt Bay to the delight of nature and outdoor lovers alike. You can choose from a number of tour topics depending on your ability level. Most of their guided walks take place at the Friends of the Dunes Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, the Samoa Dunes and Wetlands Property and the Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes Units of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. You can also request a private guided walk. For more information about Guided Walks, you can email suzie@friendsofthedunes.org.
    person in blue jacket photographing car driving through huge base of redwood tree
  5. Drive through a tree at the Drive-Thru Tree Park
    If you have never seen our dear old and giant friends, the redwoods, prepare to be awed. These impressive trees date back 5,000-9000 years old (seriously) and reach over 300’ in height. Regardless of your size and age, you will feel quite small and young, in comparison. You’ll find redwoods throughout California’s Northern coast, however this Drive-Thru Tree Park gives you an opportunity to drive through one special redwood in particular, the Chandelier. This tree is young in comparison to other famous redwoods, (dates from 400 BCE), but its size still impresses – 315’ tall and 21’ in diameter. The tree’s name was derived from its likeness to a chandelier with its many enormous limbs balanced out on either side. Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree park also provides hiking, picnicking and shopping.
  6. Take the Bald Hills Scenic Drive (and more)
    Bald Hills Scenic Drive, 17 miles long one way, provides visitors ample opportunities to see elk along with giant redwoods, beautiful oak woodlands, and tranquil prairies. To begin, you will ascend a steep 15 percent grade through old-growth redwoods. During this portion of the drive, you will have access to the Lady Bird Johnson and Tall Trees groves trails. Next, you’ll pass through several open prairies alive with spring wildflowers, Roosevelt elk, and black bear. Along the way, keep your eye out for the Redwood Creek Overlook where you can enjoy scenic views of Redwood Creek below and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Further along the drive you’ll come to several trailheads that will take you to Dolason and Lyons ranch sites, both of which are historic and charming.Directions: Look for the Bald Hills Road exit about 1 mile north of Orick, CA on US 101. After about 13 miles, Bald Hills Road becomes unpaved, so Motorhomes/RVs and trailers are not advised. View additional  scenic driving tours here.Picture of lobby.
  7. Stay at The Redwood Hotel
    We could write an entire blog post just about The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel. Here are a few highlights as to why The Redwood can help chase away those winter blues. To begin, we are more than just a hotel. We strive to offer the “boutique hotel” experience to our guests, which means exceptional service and hospitality. We are also ideally located right off iconic Highway 101 (Redwood Highway), which means we are near all of the attractions in this blog post along with other must-see attractions along California’s Redwood Coast. What’s more, the hotel property itself will make you smile. You’ll enjoy walking by large and beautiful murals in the lobby, the pool area, and the stairwells. Each mural offers insight into Humboldt County’s ancient forests, lumber camps, topography, and Native American Weott tribe. Our vintage decor, such as fishing gear, a cowhide-print rug, reclaimed redwood wainscotting, etc., will take you back to a simpler time, yet you’ll have access to the latest technology and convenience. We offer free high-speed Wi-Fi, free parking near all guest rooms, a 100% smoke-free environment, Tesla charging station, launderette, and of course our complimentary Lumberjack breakfast. We are the perfect launching pad for your Northern California experience. Book now or contact us for more information.

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