What was formerly named Union Town, Arcata is a small college town in Humboldt County, home to Humboldt State University. Situated near Arcata Bay and Humboldt Bay, this town offers an array of outdoor activities from wildlife watching and kayaking to exploring the community forest. The University is a large part of the town culture with a beautiful campus overlooking Arcata and the Pacific Ocean.
1. Arcata Plaza
Arcata Plaza is the epicenter of the town. It is home to the community favorite farmer’s market, Fourth of July parades, festivals and is packed with cafes, live music and restaurants. During the summer, it is filled with locals and families until the University starts up again and the plaza fills with college students looking to hang out in the sun, play music in the park area or grab some grub.
Arcata Plaza also hosts the Kinetic Grand Championship, a 3-day race through 42 miles (67 kilometers) of land, sand, mud, river and bay-crossings with a human-powered and created vehicle. It is commonly called the Triathlon of the Art World as it is a combination of endurance and creativity. It was first started in 1969 and has been a local favorite ever since, attracting people from all over the state to join in on the fun.
Address: Between 8th and 9th Streets and G and H Streets
Website: Arcata Plaza
2. Arcata Community Forest
We have incredible nature all around us in Humboldt. Get out there and explore! 🌲Posted by HSU Center Activities on Saturday, 11 February 2017
Stare up at giants as you walk along the redwood trees that tower throughout this community forest. A little under 800 acres, this is a haven for bird-watchers, hikers and people looking for a slice of nature within walking distance of the town. The community forest also has areas for picnics, a field for playing frisbee and slides for kids to enjoy.
One thing to note, there can sometimes be homeless people residing in the forest. They typically try to stay away from the main paths, though. Another pro tip is to try to print out the trail maps ahead of time, as they only have them secured at trailheads.
Arcata Community Forest
Address: 14th and Union Street Arcata, CA
3. Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary
An oasis for birds and wildlife of many kinds, this sanctuary has hosted over 300 bird species alone. It is 307 acres of marshes, tidal sloughs, mudflats and grassy knolls including 5 miles (8 km) of walking and biking paths. It’s located along the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory route for thousands of birds coming from California, Mexico and Central and South America. If you’d like a free guided tour, there are also volunteers that will take you around every Saturday at 2pm that meet at the Interpretive Center.
Bring the whole family along as you spot herons, egrets, and even otters! It’s also a spectacular place to watch the sunset as you look out over the Pacific Ocean.
Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary
Address: 569 S G Street Arcata, CA 95521
Contact: +1 7078262359
Website: Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary
4. Kayak or SUP in the Bay
Rent some aquatic gear from us and get out onto the Humboldt Bay for a day of fun! It's first come, first serve, so come on down! Call us at (707) 443-4222 for more information.Posted by Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center on Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Another great way to experience the outdoors is out on the water. Humboldt Bay consists of two basins, the northern part is Arcata Bay, while the southern is Humboldt Bay. They are connected by a channel so you can kayak, canoe or SUP your way between them as you check out the wildlife. The best time to catch a glimpse of wildlife is from September through April. If you boat along the edge of the shore, you can explore at the salt marshes!
To get rentals, head to Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center located in-between Arcata Bay and Humboldt Bay. Here you can rent out boats to use alone, sign up for scenic tours or even do an educational outing to learn more about the wildlife. Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) or Kayak rentals start are 25 USD and you can even rent small sailboats such as lasers, but prior experience is required.
Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center
Address: 921 Waterfront Drive Eureka, CA 95501
Price: from 25 USD
Website: Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center
5. Visit Humboldt State University Natural History Museum
If you’re in Arcata, be sure to check out Humboldt State University. Take a stroll through the campus and tour their world-class sustainable technologies. A great place to learn more about the natural history around Arcata is at the University’s Natural History Museum. It’s also a great place to take kids!
Take a virtual tour through redwood forests, explore the museum’s expansive collection of fossils and pass through local exhibits of birds, native bees, corals and more.
Humboldt State University Natural History Museum
Address: 1242 G Street Arcata, CA
Price: Adults are 6 USD, Child are 3 USD
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Contact: +1 7078264479
Website: Natural History Museum
6. Catch a show at Arcata Theatre Lounge
What was once an art deco cinema from 1938 is now a popular entertainment venue for live music, events and movies. The movie watching environment is a bit untraditional as the seating is arranged with tables and chairs and you can purchase your dinner from the theater to enjoy with your movie. All of the movies are typically 5 USD and are played on one of the biggest cinema screens in Northern California. For live music shows, they turn the theater into a stage with either partial or full seating depending on the show. These typically run from 6 USD to 40 USD and the majority are 21 and over only, with a few all ages shows.
They also host a few different events throughout the year such as Ocean Night Movies, Sci-Fi Pint & Pizza Night, comedy shows and Monday Night Football screenings. Along with most of these events, the theater is equipped with a full pub style menu as well as typical movie snacks such as popcorn and candy. It has 13 different beers on tap as well as a locally made kombucha on tap, a popular healthy fermented tea alternative.
Arcata Theatre Lounge
Address: 1036 G St, Arcata, CA 95521
Contact: +1 7078221220
Website: Arcata Theatre Lounge
Venture into nature and explore this popular college town
Arcata has an abundance of wildlife to look at, natural history museums to learn about and different scenic activities around the area. Take in nature, peruse the college campus or attend some of the fun local events on your next trip to Arcata, California.
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