Midway between Jenner and Mendocino on California's Highway 1, Point Arena virtually defines remote, but its dramatic coastline and contemporary food scene make it worth exploring. An outsize, idiosyncratic spirit animates this tiny municipality—and it's celebrating a centennial this year (see cityofpointarena.com ). Area code is 707.
- Road weary? Refresh at Franny's Cup & Saucer, a green-and-pink patisserie offering French-inspired goodies: wild huckleberry rolls with mascarpone, gray salt caramels, and croque monsieur sandwiches. Whimsical toys, too. 882-2500.
- The Arena Theater, a 200-seat gem built in 1931, condemned in 1995, and rebuilt by the community in 1997, is now a nonprofit but still shows first-run films. To glimpse the town's vibrant arts scene, try the Monday film club or occasional live shows. 882-3456, arenatheater.org .
- A far cry from your typical smalltown grocery, The Record deli and market is the spot to assemble a picnic of cheeses, organic local produce, and more. Or pause in the convivial café for breakfast sandwiches and espresso or lunchtime panini. 882-3663.
- At the hardworking Point Arena Municipal Pier, ogle surfers in the cove (and eavesdrop on their trash talk), fish off the wharf, or scramble over rocks at low tide. While you're there, drop into Pizzas & Cream for a made-from-scratch slice or a double-dip cone. 882-1900.
- For a gorgeous ramble, head to 1,132-acre Stornetta Public Lands. Walk north from the pasture gate on Lighthouse Road to spy the Garcia River's mouth, or park at the road's bend and follow bluffs south to excellent tidepooling. blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ukiah/stornetta.html .
- You can't miss the 115-foot Point Arena Lighthouse, now in its 100th year, reopening in October after renovations. Climb up for stunning views, explore the museum, stroll the grounds. 882-2777, pointarenalighthouse.com .
Photography by Gabriela Hasbun
This article was first published in September 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.