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Destination Area Guide

plaza oyster fest

Arcata: A Gem in the Northern California Redwood Region

View photos of the redwood coast in our Photo Gallery


The city of Arcata is located on the California coast in Humboldt County, just 7 miles from the city of Eureka, 278 driving miles north of San Francisco, and 90 miles south of the Oregon border.  It is home to Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly Humboldt State University), one of the oldest and most beautiful colleges in the California State University system.

Travelers to Arcata California can explore and experience outdoor adventure, art and artisan crafts and manufacturing, culture, music, theater, shopping, community events, locavore fine food and drink, being “green” before it was groovy, heritage shopping districts, architecture, history, the university culture, and a friendly embracing community.

Within the city limits of  our progressive little town, visitors can hike or bike through thousands of acres of redwood groves within Arcata’s Community Forest, beach comb along pristine coastline, paddle on Humboldt Bay or the Mad River, enjoy birding in a famous wildlife sanctuary, watch the Humboldt Crabs baseball team, or attend university functions or the popular events held on our lively town square.  Within a 15-45 minute drive from Arcata, visitors can experience Redwood National and State Parks, Avenue of the Giants and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Old Town Eureka’s Victorian Waterfront Heritage District, the Victorian Village of Ferndale, or the quaint fishing village of Trinidad, Trinidad Head, lighthouse, beaches, and Su – Meg State Park.


National Geographic Traveller has acknowledged Arcata as one of the “next great adventure towns.”

Arcata is renowned for hosting popular gatherings on or near our lively town square such as the Kinetic Sculpture Race, Oyster Festival, Pastels On The Plaza, Arts Alive, Saturday Farmers Market, and the Fourth of July and North Country Fairs.


The redwood region boasts millions of acres of wondrous unspoiled scenery: protected ancient redwood groves (the tallest trees in the world), 160 miles of pristine coastline with miles of sandy and rocky beaches, sea stacks and dunes, Humboldt Bay, lagoons, wild and scenic rivers, wetlands, recreation areas, hundreds of species of birds on our Pacific Flyway, County, State, and National Parks, wildlife refuges, lighthouses, harbors and waterfronts, and small-town charm.


  • Humboldt County has been ranked the “second most beautiful county in the U.S”
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has called Humboldt County “America’s Most Scenic Rural County.”
  • National Geographic Adventure magazine described our hometown of Arcata as one of its “50 Next Great Adventure Towns.”
  • California AAA May/June 2014 Via Magazine listed Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Humboldt County’s Redwood National Park as “1 of 8 high points not to miss within the US system of 58 National Parks.”  Also included in the incredible sights were Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, to name a few.
  • The City of Eureka, Humboldt’s County seat, has been designated “The #1 Best Small Art Town” in John Villani’s book “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.”

Arcata Activities

Top things to do in Arcata

  • Shopping, dining, wine-tasting, galleries, music
  • Shop organic at Farmers Market on Saturday
  • Events at Cal Poly Humboldt
  • April Godwit Days Birding Festival
  • Open Art Studios & Oyster Festival

Top things to do on a budget

  • Visit Arcata Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hike/Bike in Redwood Park
  • Kinetic Sculpture Race
  • 4th of July & Equinox Fairs on the Plaza
  • Pastels on the Plaza

Top things to do with a family

  • Humboldt Crabs summer baseball games
  • Kayak/canoe/fish/view seals on Mad River
  • Play and beach comb at Mad River Beach
  • Arcata Skateboard Park
  • Explore Ma-Le’l Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

Redwood Coast Activities

Outdoor Sports

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Birding
  • Horseback riding
  • Marathons
  • Golf
  • Tennis

River & Ocean Activities

  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Rafting
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Windsurfing
  • Kite surfing
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Salmon & steel-head fishing
  • Beach combing
  • Whale watching

In-Town Activities

  • Arcata Plaza Festivals and Saturday Farmers Market
  • Cal Poly Humboldt
  • Sightseeing
  • Old Town Eureka waterfront
  • Ferndale Victorian village
  • Trinidad seaside village
  • Shopping
  • Restaurants
  • Wine-tasting
  • Live theater
  • Art community and galleries
  • Touring Victorian architecture
  • Music festivals
  • Museums
  • Cinemas
  • Sequoia Zoo & Skywalk
  • Humboldt Bay Harbor Tour on the M.V. Madaket
  • Humboldt Botanical Garden
  • Blue Ox Millworks
  • Samoa Cookhouse