Humboldt Bay Tourism Center
Photo: Humboldt Bay Tourism Center

Resting on the edge of a beautiful enclosed bay, Eureka is a small city with a magnetic collection of cultural charms and an assortment of outdoor activities. The town is home to an array of stores, art galleries, and museums as well as several popular attractions such as Fort Humboldt State Historical Park, Blue Ox Millworks Historic Park and the Sequoia Park Zoo. Here are the best things to do in Eureka, California.

»Old Town Eureka, California

Old Town Eureka, California

Home to more than 100 Victorian buildings, and listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places, Old Town Eureka is one of the most well-preserved commercial districts in the West. Located along the historic waterfront industrial area on California’s far northwest coast, Old Town Eureka is packed with an array of things to see and do, from art galleries and antique stores to museums, restaurants, coffee shops, and cafés, as well as unique boutiques, bookstores, and one-of-a-kind shops. If you are wondering what to do in Eureka, California today, this is a great place to start exploring.

Founded in 1850, Eureka’s rich history of logging and fishing gave rise to the Old Town, which arose as the town developed and still retains much of the flavor of its Victorian architecture today. Perched on the edge of Humboldt Bay in the heart of the ancient Redwood belt, Eureka’s classic Old Town is a must for history buffs, architecture-lovers, or simply those who love to shop for something a little different. Photo: Uladzik Kryhin/Fotolia

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»Humboldt Bay Tourism Center

Humboldt Bay Tourism Center

The Humboldt Bay Tourism Center is a modern center that offers visitors a wealth of information on Eureka, and all that the town and surrounding region have to offer. The Center features state-of-the-art technology that allows visitors to explore the area on iPads, complete with apps and links to accommodation, dining and things to see and do.

An all-local tasting room offers visitors the chance to taste local beers, wines, ciders, and kombucha, accompanied by local hand- crafted cheeses, meats, bread, and desserts while an oyster bar serves raw and broiled oysters with a variety of gourmet sauces.

Visitors can choose from a curated selection of tours and adventures, ranging from river-rafting and sunset kayaking trips to horse-drawn carriage rides and oyster farm tours. Local artists, farmers, chefs, and brewers gather at the Humboldt Bay Tourism Center every Sunday to showcase their works in the form of wine and cheese tastings, art classes, and slideshows.

205 G Street. Old Town Eureka, CA 95501, 707-672-3850 (website) Photo: Humboldt Bay Tourism Center

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»Sequoia Park Zoo

Sequoia Park Zoo

Founded in 1907, the Sequoia Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in California. Dedicated to inspiring understanding and respect for the natural world and educating the community about the importance of wildlife conservation, the Sequoia Park Zoo is home to over 200 vertebrates and more than 1,700 invertebrates. If you are looking for fun things to do in Eureka with kids, visit the Sequoia Park Zoo.

Surrounded by 60 acres of mature coastal redwood forests, the zoo’s collections include a ‘Barnyard’ exhibit which features an array of farm animals, including donkeys, and llamas, while a walk-in free-flight aviary houses a wealth of bird species, including ibis, parrots and European rollers. An educational building called the "Secrets of the Forest" features mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects found in the redwood forests, and the surrounding park enjoys a children’s playground, a duck pond and landscaped gardens. The Sequoia Park Zoo is open to the public daily.

3414 W St, Eureka, CA 95503, 707-441-4263 (website) Photo: Sequoia Park Zoo

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»Fort Humboldt State Historic Park

Fort Humboldt State Historic Park

Situated on a high cliff overlooking Humboldt Bay, Fort Humboldt State Historic Park is home to the remote military post of Fort Humboldt and a historic logging Museum with several outdoor displays. Established in the mid-1800s to assuage the conflict between settlers in search of gold and the local Native American people, Fort Humboldt was abandoned in 1870 and today stands as a historical museum dedicated to telling the story of the Fort and theNative American people, including the Hoopa, Wiyot, and Yurok of this region.

The museum also showcases the history of logging in Eureka, with displays of logging equipment, an authentic Native American dug-out canoe, and trains, including a fully functional ‘Steam Donkey’ engine. Fort Humboldt State Historic Park also offers an array of outdoor activities to enjoy, ranging from walking, hiking and wildlife watching to various interactive exhibits and educational programs at the Visitor’s Center.

3431 Fort Avenue, Eureka, CA 95503, 707-445-6547

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»Morris Graves Museum of Art

Morris Graves Museum of Art

Named after painter and founder of the Northwest School of Art in the Pacific Northwest, the Morris Graves Museum of Art is located in the Eureka Carnegie Library Building in the heart of Eureka. The Museum houses seven galleries that feature a range of collections that showcase the arts and artists of the Pacific Northwest, including William Anderson, Glen Berry, Max Butler and Charlie Brown, as well as some of Morris Graves’ own work.

The Museum is also home to a beautiful Courtyard Sculpture Garden, in which patrons can relax in shady, peaceful surroundings, a variety of educational-based classrooms and facilities, an Arts Resource Center and a Performance Rotunda. The Museum hosts a range of community-focused events each month, such as Eureka’s Arts Alive!

636 F St, Eureka, CA 95501, United States, 707-442-0278 (website) Photo: Morris Graves Museum of Art

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»Blue Ox Millworks Historic Park

Blue Ox Millworks Historic Park

Blue Ox Millworks Historic Park is a living history park that features a fully functioning sawmill and Victorian job shop that produces architectural millwork, and a variety of other intricate design details for historic homes. The Park is home to a Blacksmith’s shop, ceramics studio, working print shop and a re-creation of a logging skid camp, and offers workshops in woodworking, boat building and other artisan trades from the Victorian era.

Established to preserve the quality of expert craftsmanship techniques of the last century, Blue Ox Millworks Historic Park offers an insight into various fields, including boat building, ceramics, apothecary, energy efficient cooking and antique press printing. Visitors can enjoy a journey back in time as they stroll through this busy Victorian-era park.

One "X" Street, Eureka, CA 95501-0847, United States, 707-444-3437 (website)

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»Redwood Highway

Redwood Highway

The Redwood Highway is a scenic drive along the coast of California that is named after the magnificent California coast redwood trees that can be found all along the route. The Highway, also known as Highway 101, extends all the way along the coastline to the Oregon border and features numerous state parks, including Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Smithe Redwoods State Reserve, and Azalea State Reserve, and many breathtaking views. Scenic attractions along the highway include the Avenue of the Giants, the Battery Point, Punta Gorda and Cape Mendocino Lighthouses, and Luffenholts, Agate, and Mad River beaches. Photo: Tomasz Zajda/Fotolia

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»Headwaters Forest Reserve

Headwaters Forest Reserve

The Headwaters Forest Reserve is a 7,472-acre area of protected old-growth redwood groves, situated along the northern Californian coast near Humboldt. Established in 1999 to protect the world’s only remaining intact, old-growth redwood forest ecosystem, the Headwaters Forest Reserve is also home to a variety of threatened and endangered wildlife species, including the northern spotted owl, the coho salmon, and the marbled murrelet.

The Reserve features two public hiking trails – the Elk River Trail and the Salmon Pass Trail. Both trails wind through the old-growth redwood forest with interpretive signs along the way, however, the Salmon Pass Trail can only be explored by a guided tour, which presents a unique look at the ecology of the ancient redwood forest.

Palco Road 1, Fortuna, CA 95540, United States, 707-825-2300 (website) Photo: BLM photo

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»Humboldt Botanical Garden

Humboldt Botanical Garden

Established in 1991 as a means of preserving, inspiring and educating the public about local fauna and flora in the region, the Humboldt Botanical Garden is located south of Eureka near Humboldt Bay and spans more than 18 hectares of terrain. Situated across the road from the College of Redwoods, the garden first opened to the public in 2006 and is home to a variety of species from the Humboldt region, as well as plants from the Rogue River area and San Francisco Bay region.

Special collections in the garden include displays of iris’, conifers, and Western Lillies. The Humboldt Botanical Gardens also provides a range of educational programs and workshops for children and students, including summer camps and classes.

7707 Tompkins Hill Road, Eureka, CA 95503, United States, 707-442-5139 (website) Photo: Humboldt Botanical Garden

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»Clarke Historical Museum

Clarke Historical Museum

Founded by Cecile Clarke, a teacher at the local high school, the Clarke Historical Museum is dedicated to showcasing the rich history of Humboldt County, ranging from the gold rush settlements and logging industry to the vibrant Native American cultures that called the region home.

Housed in the landmark Bank of Eureka building since 1960, the Museum has an array of outstanding exhibits, displays and interactive programs that offers visitors the opportunity to explore the history of the region, and take a step back in time to the elegance of the Victorian age and its remarkable craftsmanship, as well as experience life as a wealthy rancher or farmer in the region at the time. The Clarke Historical Museum is open year-round from Wednesday to Saturday.

240 E Street, Eureka, CA 95501, United States, 707-443-1947 (website) Photo: Clarke Historical Museum

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»Sequoia Park Forest & Garden

Sequoia Park Forest & Garden

Located next to the Sequoia Park Zoo, Sequoia Park Forest & Garden is a 67-acre park that features a network of trails for walking, hiking and biking that wind through the redwood forest and past meadows and small creeks. The park garden is home toseveral children’s playgrounds, open grassy spaces with picnic tables and restrooms, and a beautiful gazebo bandstand that is a perfect setting for weddings and other special occasions.

The Sequoia Park Garden is nestled within the zoo’s northern perimeter and boasts a stunning collection of flowers and shrubbery, including dahlias, an old-world wishing well and a shaded seating area with gazebo.

3414 W St, Eureka, CA 95503, 707-441-4263 (website)

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»Carson Mansion

Carson Mansion

Originally the home of lumber baron, William Carson, the Carson Mansion is a large Victorian house that is regarded as one of the best examples of American Queen Anne style architecture. Designed by Samuel and Joseph Newsom and built in 1884, the house is one of the most documented Victorian houses in California, with images of the mansion being used on posters, paintings, and book covers across the world, including the clock tower of the train station at Disneyland. Standing in virtually the same condition as when first constructed, the Carson Mansion has been a private club since 1950 and is not open to the public. Photo: ochaname/Fotolia

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»Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe

Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe

The Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe is owned by Master Brewer Barbara Groom, and has been producing craft brews and traditional ales for over 25 years. Located in a new facility at the south end of Eureka, the brewery boasts a 90,000-barrel capacity and has grown to become the 43rd largest craft brewery in the United States, exporting its brews across the world.

Visitors to the brewery can sample seasonal ales and special beers, such as Alleycat Amber, Downtown Brown, and Fogcutter Double IPA while enjoying a light meal at the café, whose menu features pub-style food such as sandwiches, salads, burgers, pizza, and quesadillas.

617 Fourth Street, Eureka, CA 95501, United States, 707-445-4480 (website) Photo: Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe

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»Lost Coast Trail

Lost Coast Trail

The Lost Coast Trail is a National Recreation Trail and one of California’s premier coastal backpacking trails, due to its magnificent landscapes where land meets the sea. The Lost Coast Trail is divided into two sections, the northern and southern sections, both of which offer very different experiences. The north part of the trail is relatively flat with sand, pebbles and boulders to contend with, while the southern section passes through Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, which lies at an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level. The two sections of the trail are separated by a four-mile section of road that runs through the Shelter Cove area. Allow at least three days to complete the entire hike, and walk during the week or in the spring or fall months if you want to avoid crowds. (website)

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14 Best Things to Do in Eureka, California