Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Fortuna, CA

  • Published 2023/04/25

Situated in California’s Humboldt County, Fortuna sits on the northeast shore of the Eel River.

Also known as The Friendly City, Fortuna hosts incredible redwood areas, fantastic scenic attractions, and local amenities that give visitors a pleasant visit.

In 1874, the earliest settlement was named Slide, after Slide Hill and the vast slides found on the edge of the town.

The following year, the city’s name was changed to Springville when the Springville Lumber Mill was established; it was also named so because of the abundant springs in the area.

In 1888, the city was eventually renamed Fortuna, derived from the Spanish word meaning fortune and the Latin word for chance.

Fortuna was a leading lumber supplier, and the expansion of electricity and railroad further boosted the industry.

You can experience Fortuna’s sweeping views of natural locations, outdoor parks, exciting events, and local businesses for a pleasurable vacation.

Here are the best things to do in Fortuna, California:

See the Displays at the Fortuna Depot Museum

Exterior of Fortuna Depot Museum

Ellin Beltz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fortuna Depot Museum can be found in Rohner Park near central downtown.

The specialized museum is set in the city’s old train station, constructed around 1889 and bought by the City of Fortuna in 1974.

You can bring your family here to learn about the city and the Eel River Valley’s history.

View the artifact displays that reflect the old city’s railroad and logging industries.

Learn about the life of Fortuna miners and the Rohner family who built the Springville Mill.

See various collections of Native American baskets, an old general store display, and antique equipment like the collection of Arden Taylor and Vernon Dahl fishing gear and Al Rogers tool collections like barbed wires, locks, and antique spark plugs.

Even the surrounding giant redwoods offer a glimpse of ancient history, with most of them living for around 500 to 700 years.

Watch Your Dogs Have Fun at Fortuna Dog Park

Your pet dogs can have loads of fun while you’re in the city and visiting Fortuna Dog Park.

The park provides a separate area for large and small dogs and has excellent dog-training features that your pooch can enjoy, too.

The facility is also fully-fenced, so your fur buddies can run and roam around to their heart’s delight.

Your pet dogs can also exercise at the gazebo and drink on the water spigot.

The dog park is well-maintained and has plenty of waste baskets available so you can pick up after your pets.

Trek the Fortuna Riverwalk

For more nature adventure in the Fortuna area, trek along the scenic Fortuna Riverwalk.

The trail is an easy two-mile trail that starts on Sandy Prairie Road, north to its junction with Drake Hill Road.

You’ll head north to Riverwalk Drive and pass through open fields and vast farmlands, including an industrial area.

Enjoy the fresh air, the calm landscape, and the scenic Eel River.

The trail ends at a salvage yard on Riverwalk Drive, and you’ll find that the views here are worth the walk.

Enjoy the Fortuna Rodeo Celebrations

The fun-filled Fortuna Rodeo is something you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Fortuna during the summer.

This week-long rodeo celebration is held at the Rohner Park Rodeo Grounds and has been a local tradition since 1921.

Fortuna Rodeo is a family-friendly festival with something for everyone to enjoy.

Have an exciting front-row seat experience of raging bulls and cowhands in action.

Watch the parade and entertaining shows, enjoy the carnival rides, visit the shopping stalls, play games, and enjoy slabs of tasty barbeque after.

Have Freshly Prepared Apple Cider at Clendenen’s Cider Works

Clendenen’s Cider Works, located on 12th Street, is a family-owned apple orchard and cider factory operating since 1909.

Now run by E.C. and Clif Clendenen with their son, the tradition of cider making continues.

Their orchard has apple varieties like Minkler, Stark, and Smith’s Cider, which they use to make pure, all-natural cider.

They’re open from mid-August to January, so it’s something to put in your schedule when you visit Fortuna.

Aside from catching the cider-making process, you can also purchase other natural products, farm-fresh produce, and honey at the shop.

Catch the Classic Cars at the Fortuna Redwood AutoXpo

If you’re an automobile enthusiast, you can’t miss the Fortuna Redwood AutoXpo.

The event was put together in 1990 and has been a local tradition held on the city’s Main Street, also hailed as the biggest car show in the area.

Catch the parade of fantastic vintage car models at the cruise with an anticipated Friday night party.

If you’re looking for hard-to-find car parts and accessories, you might find them at the Swap Meet.

Watch the Artisan Show at the art galleries, shop at the Farmer’s Market, and watch the Tractor Pull, which features a pulling competition of the toughest tractors.

Catch great items from rows of local vendors, join the Poker Run, and feast on servings of delicious local barbeque.

Enjoy Endless Activities at Rohner Park

A pretty flower at Rohner Park

Lblakely, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Park Street, Rohner Park is a great place to bring your family for some outdoor fun.

The park offers a large area for a picnic with a cookshack so you can enjoy a family barbeque.

Enjoy roller skating at the rink in the Fireman’s Pavilion and play some Bocce Ball at the courts.

Rohner Park also provides Little League ball fields and additional ball fields where you might get to catch a game.

Your little ones will surely enjoy some playtime at the Tot Lot; likewise, older kids can run around the playground area.

Enjoy a calming nature walk along the redwood forest and trails, or visit the Depot Museum and Caboose.

The park hosts the annual Fortuna Rodeo celebrations at the rodeo grounds and offers special events facilities.

Tour Chapman’s Gem & Mineral Shop & Museum

See some unique collections of minerals, petrified woods, and artifacts at Chapman’s Gem & Mineral Shop & Museum.

This attraction on Metropolitan Road features objects that the Chapmans collected on their travels to over 50 states and different regions in the country.

You’ll get to see displays of Native American artifacts and the most extensive known petrified palm collection.

You’ll also catch a glimpse of various phosphorescent minerals in the ultraviolet room.

There are no formal tours in this museum, but the staff is always ready to answer any questions from visitors.

For some keepsakes to take home, you can purchase items like rocks, gems, jewelry, art, and other collectibles from the shop.

Try Local Ales and Lagers at Eel River Brewing Company

Have a taste of West coast handcrafted ales and lagers with the best juicy Black Angus steaks at Eel River Brewing Company, located on Alamar Way.

Their traditional award-winning brews have earned the country’s first Certified Organic Brewery distinction.

The pub features a 30-foot-long bar made of Redwood and Douglas Fir and a spacious outdoor beer garden, the perfect place to hang out and dine.

Try their brews on taps like Extra Pale Ale, Organic Amber, Hazelnut Porter, Triple Exultation, or Ravens Eye Stout.

Have generous servings of seafood and their famous organic beef steaks on the menu.

Eat Mexican Specials at Taco Loco

If you’re craving some Mexican fare, Taco Loco is your stop to satisfy your appetite.

Try their serving of Crazy Relleno Burrito with beans, rice, and cheesy chile Relleno with your choice of meat.

You can also have your fill of Chile Verde plate with tender pork meat cooked in a special mild green chili sauce, served with your pick of black or whole pinto beans and corn tortillas.

Grab some of their tasty Quesabirrias tacos, other Mexican favorites, and beverages on the menu.

Taco Loco has been around for some time and is a local favorite that Fortuna visitors must try.

You can enjoy dining in, order food for takeout, or opt for delivery.

Enjoy Horseback Riding at Korobi Stables

Enjoy horseback riding with the family at Korobi Stables on Sandy Prairie Road.

The business is run by Kim Korobi, who has over 30 years of experience and specialization in horse training and retraining.

Get to see some of Humboldt County’s fantastic natural sceneries while enjoying a ride on a horse.

They have seating for up to 10 persons per ride, so your whole family or group can go together.

You can sign up for horseback riding lessons, with programs available for your riding skill or experience level.

Korobi Stables also offer other services like horse boarding, which includes daily feeding and stall cleanout.

Have Fun Outdoor Recreation at Newburg Park

Newburg Park has been a local attraction serving as an outdoor recreation venue since 1979.

The park area was formerly an18.5-acre pastureland that the City of Fortuna purchased.

Seated on Newburg Road, the park has recreational facilities like hardball, softball, and soccer fields.

There are also other soccer fields of varying sizes you can play in and a dirt bike park you can use.

If you want to relax and unwind, you can stroll along the walking path or enjoy a picnic while kids can go to the playground.

Newburg Park is also a frequent venue for community sports events and hosts the city’s 4th of July Fireworks Show.

Try Organic Spirits at Humboldt Distillery

Exterior view of the Humboldt Distillery

Ellin Beltz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

More than just a local business producing organic spirits, Humboldt Distillery takes an active part in preserving the environment.

Partnering with CCKA, they ensure that their products are as sustainable as possible and champion clean, healthy waters for the local community.

Run by Abe and Courtney Stevens, the distillery is the only one producing certified organic spirits in the region.

Their local creation, Organic Vodka, won the Double Gold and the “Spirit of the Year” award during the Bartender Spirits Awards in 2019.

Try a sample of their Organic Vodka, organic rums, whiskey, and their award-winning hemp-infused vodka called Humboldt’s Finest.

Work Out at Body Works Fitness Club

In Fortuna, there’s a great place for gym rats called Body Works Fitness Club, which features excellent workout equipment for any level.

It has certified trainers who can help you get started with your body goals, and if you want to sign up for classes, you can do it too.

The classes are customized, designed, and tailored to your needs with one of the best instructors the gym has to offer.

It also features a sauna and a massage room, where you can relax and get pampered.

When fitness meets relaxation, the product is Body Works Fitness Club!

Visit the gym at Main Street.

Go on a Shopping Spree at Redwood Village Shopping Center

When you go shopping in Fortuna, Redwood Village Shopping Center is the best spot for you.

This charming shopping mall has everything you may need from dining, shopping, entertainment, and more.

You’ll love that there’s Grocery Outlet here, where you can buy produce, healthy stuff, and vitamins, as well as other retailers to meet your needs.

If you need to grab a bite, McDonald’s, Subway, and Peppers, among others are all here.

Redwood Village Shopping Center is located off South Fortuna Boulevard.

Get Your Coffee Fix at Shotz Coffee and Drive Thru

Kickstart your day in Fortuna with a deliciously fresh, handcrafted cup of coffee at Shotz Coffee and Drive Thru.

The coffee shop serves both ice and hot coffee drinks, including its popular Mexican Mocha, Brewed Coffee from Humboldt Bay Coffee Roaster, and many more.

Extra shots of espresso are on the house every Thursday, which is great if you love espresso!

Also, don’t miss out on its delicious breakfast sandwiches, burritos, bagels, and other delicious pastries.

Its blended drinks such as smoothies, crushers, ice cream rush, and acai bowls are all a must-try.

Drop by Shotz Coffee and Drive Thru at Main Street.

Enjoy a Good Read at Fortuna Library

With a great selection of books and other printed materials, you sure can have a good time reading a new book at Fortuna Library on 14th Street.

The library keeps an extensive collection of books, audiobooks, e-books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and many more.

These are available in different genres, which are suitable for kids, teens, and adults.

The library also hosts programs and events for the community, such as Reading Clubs, Storytimes, and Arts & Crafts, among others.

Fortunate Library is part of the Humboldt County Library System.

Soak in Nature at Headwaters Forest Reserve

Established in 1999, Headwaters Forest Reserve takes you to beautiful forested areas surrounded by amazing old-growth coast redwood trees.

The 7,472-acre reserve was the world’s last intact and unprotected redwood forest until the decade-long efforts to protect it finally happened in 1999.

It offers two walking trails, where you can see the spectacular redwood forests with amazing wildlife.

Look out for the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, coho salmon, and many more.

You’ll pass through meadows, creeks, waterfalls, and all things nature.

Head to Palco Road 1 to find Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Get Big Wins at Bear River Casino

A distant view of the Bear River Casino

Ellin Beltz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll have a swell time playing slots, roulette, poker, blackjack, baccarat, and craps at Bear River Casino.

It’s located in Loleta, just six minutes from Fortuna.

Enjoy the action at this 24/7 casino, which continues to bag the Best Casino Award every year.

You can stay at the four-star hotel and choose from mountain view rooms to luxurious executive suites, with great amenities like high-speed internet, an indoor pool, a whirlpool, and a fitness center.

Satisfy your palate with excellent dining choices and a relaxing view at the River Edge Grill and Bar.

You can also grab quick bites at Express Cafe at Bear River Casino Resort or enjoy the night with choices of drinks and cocktails at Thirsty Bear Lounge.

Walk through the Forests at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Nature trail at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

EyeLights West /

A few minutes outside Fortuna, Humboldt Redwoods State Park is situated along the Avenue of the Giants.

It is the state’s largest redwood state park.

The park spans 53,000 acres, with over 17,000 acres of old coastal redwoods, some of which are thousands of years old.

Visit the scenic natural landmarks like Rockefeller Forest, the home of the Giant Tree, an easy trail called Founder’s Grove, and the Dyerville Giant, one of the last remaining drive-through redwood trees.

Drive-thru tree at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Logan Bush /

Camp out with your family at the park’s 250 developed campsites, or you can choose to stay for a day at the Women’s Federation Grove with picnic tables and restrooms.

Drop by the famous Hearthstone sandy beach along the Eel River to go for a swim, enjoy fishing, or paddle on a boat.

Other attractions you can visit at the park include the nature trails with lots of native plant gardens and the visitor center with natural and cultural history exhibits.

Flora at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Cavan-Images /

Final Thoughts

Fortuna is one of California’s famous areas with fantastic nature locations.

While it’s a small city, it offers a wide variety of local parks, specialty restaurants, and recreation facilities for everyone to enjoy.

The lively Fortuna community features annual events that attract many visitors to the city.

The Friendly City in California undoubtedly lives up to its nickname.

Travel here with your family and enjoy everything on this list of the best things to do in Fortuna, California.

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