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Arcata, CA 95521

Arcata is approximately 110 miles south of the Oregon border in the heart of the Redwood country. Its mild climate and beautiful scenery attract thousands of visitors each year. The forest and beaches provide a wealth of outdoor activities. Arcata is the home of Humboldt State University one of the oldest colleges in the California State University system. Humboldt State was founded in 1913 as a teachers college and was called Humboldt Normal School. It has grown significantly since then and its programs are nationally known and imitated.

There is always lots to see and do in Arcata. The Arcata Community Forest is a 575 acre forest with trails, redwood trees, and picnic areas. The Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary is internationally known and features bird watching and trails for walking and jogging. The center of town is built around a Plaza with plenty of shopping and several restaurants. There also is a walking tour of Victorian homes. Planning a visit? You will find comfortable accommodations, fine restaurants, numerous campgrounds, boundless recreational opportunities and more.

In December of 1849, a group of Trinity River miners found Humboldt Bay through an overland route and settled there in the spring of 1850. The settlement was originally named, "Union". Members of the Union Company laid out the Plaza and surrounding blocks in April, 1850. The native inhabitants, people of Algonquian stock known as Wiyot, were soon displaced in the rush to settle the new supply center and point of entry for the interior gold mining regions on the Klamath, Trinity and Salmon Rivers. By 1855, a deep-water wharf was constructed and the first railroad in California connected the Bay with the depot at the southwest corner of the Plaza. When the settlement was incorporated in 1858, the town was renamed "Arcata".

Although gold prompted Arcata's settlement, it was the area's timber resources which sustained its development. Virgin redwood forests, which covered alluvial flats and coastal ridges, soon felt the assault of the woodsman's axe and saw. Logging giant redwoods required new skills and equipment for cuttings, moving and milling, which resulted in a locally-unique economy, labor force and social structure.

The Plaza's central green space recalls the New England common or the squares of the South, where people pastured livestock in early years and in later times, gathered for social events, picnics, parades or simply conversation and a little sun on a summer day. The palm trees and statue of William McKinley go back to 1906; they are today, as they have been for decades, distinctive landmarks associated with this unique community and the Plaza.

From the earliest days of settlement the Plaza has been the center of Arcata's commercial life, preserving in its green space an atmosphere of small town community reflected as well by its distinctive historic buildings, shaped by a special historical and architectural heritage. With the exception of the Jacoby's Storehouse Building, which incorporates the original store house of the 1850's on the ground floor, none of the original architecture remains.

Fire and the passage of time have not been kind to the Plaza; however, most of the buildings were built before the turn-of-the-century and, except for three buildings of the 1950's, the remainder were built by 1915, the Hotel Arcata being the last. The Minor Theatre, constructed in 1914, is one of the oldest movie theaters still in operation in the United States. Arcata's Main Street Program has been instrumental in restoring a number of the old buildings, some dating to the 1870's, whose original appearances were disguised by modern facades.


Arcata Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary and Interpretive Center

Enjoy bird watching, walking and jogging trails, bay views and vistas of Arcata and foothills. This nationally recognized habitat encompasses 75 acres of former landfill; now the series of marshes naturally treat Arcata's wastewater before it is released into Humboldt Bay. Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center located at 600 G Street is open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., 826-2359.

Arcata Community Forest and Redwood Park

Arcata's 575-acre forest, complete with majestic redwood trees, is located within our city limits just a 2 minute drive from downtown Arcata. The forest features nearly 10 miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. A picnic and playground area offers beautiful views of the park, and a large grassy area is the setting for many outdoor events. Camping is prohibited in both the park and forest. Access from east 11th Street or east 14th Street.

Arcata Plaza

The site of numerous community events, the Plaza is centrally located in Arcata's downtown district. Surrounded by shops, restaurants and historic buildings, the Plaza is a unique place to enjoy a bite to eat or browsing in the many shops and bookstores. Flower beds and park benches offer respite from a harried day. The William McKinley statue, a gift from a city father, and palm trees date back to 1906.

Arcata Farmer's Market

The North Coast Growers Association sponsors a very popular farmer's market on the Arcata Plaza from the end of April through November. Featuring a wide variety of regional organic produce, plants, crafts, music and entertainment, it's the place to be on Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 441-9699.

Historic Landmarks

Designated historic landmarks include: Hotel Arcata, 9th and G Streets, built in 1915, now features a full service hotel and retail shops; Jacoby's Storehouse, 8th and H Streets, built in 1857, now houses numerous restaurants, shops, and offices; the Minor Theatre, 10th and H Streets, built in 1914, is currently operating three movie theaters where current, classic and artistic films are shown. All of these structures have undergone restoration in recent years and feature quality workmanship in the exterior and interior of the buildings.

Humboldt State University

Established in 1913 and the northern-most campus of the California State University system, HSU has recently received recognition of its education value in many national publications. The campus offers some of the most scenic views of Arcata and the Bay. HSU attractions include many outstanding cultural events, art exhibits, sports events and a library with excellent local historical resources.

Humboldt State University Natural History Museum

Located near downtown, this unique museum provides an extensive fossil collection and exhibits of California fauna and flora. Interesting for all ages. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. 4:00 p.m., 13th and G Streets.

Phillip's House Museum

This historic house is one of the oldest structures in Arcata. The Historical Sites Society has created a tasteful interpretation of a mid-19th century residence in Arcata, complete with lace curtains, fine china, quilts and newspapers. Panoramic views of Humboldt Bay. Sundays, noon to 4 p.m., 7th and Union Streets.

Mad River Beach County Park

Miles of pristine beaches and dunes lead to the mouth of the Mad River, where harbor seals and sea lions rest and feed. Hidden at the end of picturesque Mad River Road located in the Arcata Bottoms.

Lanphere Dunes Preserve

A unique example of dune succession on the west coast. On the west side of Arcata, the undisturbed dunes reach heights of over 80 feet. Due to an extremely fragile ecosystem, access is limited to guided tours only. For information, call 444-1397.

Railroad Museums

Located on the 1st floor of the Jacoby's Storehouse Building, the Arcata Railroad Museum preserves the memory of days when Arcata was supplied by rail and port. Railroad buffs may also enjoy the Blue Lake Museum at the old Arcata and Mad River Railroad Depot on Railroad Avenue in the town of Blue Lake.

Sequoia Zoo

A 54-acre park features redwoods, wildlife, petting zoo, playground, picnic area, walking trails and duck pond. Located at 3414 W Street in Eureka.

Trinidad Harbor and Beaches

The historic Trinidad Harbor is still home to a fleet of commercial fishing boats and offers unparalleled views of our coastline. The HSU Marine Laboratory is located just up the hill. Trinidad State Beach is an easy access point for miles of scenic coastal trails, including Trinidad Head. Take Trinidad exit, 15 miles north of Arcata, off of Highway 101.

Redwood National Park

Less than an hour north of Arcata, Redwood National Park contains the world's tallest trees --- some over 350 feet high! Old growth redwood trees that are 800 to 1500 years old can also be found throughout this park which encompasses 106,000 acres. A Visitors Center is located just south of Orick on Highway 101.

Patrick's Point State Park

Perched atop magnificent bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this park features picturesque campsites, Agate Beach, Sumeg Village (redwood replicas of Yurok Indian dwellings), and excellent whale watching vantages from Wedding Rock. 20 miles north of Arcata.

Prairie Creek State Park

Take an adventurous trip to stunning Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Beach along 8 miles of narrow, bumpy gravel road or a 4.5 walk through an ancient forest. See numerous herds of Roosevelt elk throughout the 14,000 acres of park land. 46 miles north of Arcata.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park and "Avenue of the Giants"

Showcases over 51,000 acres of the most impressive redwoods in the world. More than 100 miles of hiking trails, fishing along the Eel River, horseback riding , mountain biking, and swimming. Located one hour south of Arcata on Highway 101 at Weott.

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