Things to See and Do in Ferndale, CA
So many of those Victorians survived that the entire one-square-mile town and its Main Street are listed as state and national landmarks respectively. In the 1970s a local woman, Viola Russ McBride, bought a passel of the town's ornate commercial buildings, rented them cheaply to artists, and promoted their restoration. "Viola is the patron saint of Ferndale," says Joe Koches, who was one of those artists. At age 81 he still labors at his coal-fired forge in the Blacksmith Shop, which carries hand wrought items ranging from drawer pulls to a $40,000 set of Maya-themed light fixtures by a top California smithy.
Re-energize at Sweetness and Light with handmade candies, including the signature Mooo Bar, a chocolate-covered confection of caramel, toasted almonds, and homemade marshmallow.
Nearby, the creaky-floored Golden Gait Mercantile sells everything from an antique clothes-washing stand to small batch soaps and hats. Both floors of the store are packed with heirloom wares and useful souvenirs.
Housed in an 1895 building that has been home to a grocery store, church, Buick dealership, and more, the Ferndale Emporium offers everything from art and home decor to items for your garden and skin care.
In quiet backstreets, rhododendrons put on a spectacular display around May. Another show, of the grandma's-attic variety, can be seen at the Ferndale Museum. Exhibits include a cross section of a 1,237-year-old redwood tree and a 1953 photo of "the world's tallest cake," a 15-tier creation made with 300 pounds of butter and served to 10,500 people at the fairgrounds.
Or find your next great read at Chapman’s Bookery. The bookstore can also can help you track down a rare edition to fill a hole in your collection.