6 Best Things to Do in Arcata, CA: Exploring Wildlife and the City
Best Things to Do in Arcata – Previously named Union Town, Arcata is a small college town in Humboldt County that is home to Humboldt State University.
Located near Arcata Bay and Humboldt Bay, the city offers a range of outdoor activities ranging from wildlife watching and kayaking to community wilderness exploration.
The university is a big part of the city’s culture, with a beautiful campus overlooking Arcata and the Pacific Ocean.
- Arcata Plaza
Arcata Plaza is the center of the city. It is home to the community’s favorite farmers market, Fourth of July Parade, and festivals and is filled with cafes, live music, and restaurants.
During the summer, it’s packed with locals and families until university starts again, and the plaza is filled with college students looking to bask in the sun, play music in the parking area, or grab some grub. Want.
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 built vehicle.
It is called the triathlon of the art world because it combines endurance and creativity. It was first introduced in 1969 and has been a local favorite ever since, attracting people from all over the state to join in the fun. (Best Things to Do in Arcata)
- Arcata Plaza
- Address: Between 8th and 9th Streets and G and H Streets
Arcata Community Forest
Stare at the giants as you walk through this community forest with redwood trees. A little less than 800 acres, it is a haven for bird-watchers, hikers, and people looking for a piece of nature within walking distance of the city.
The Community Forest also has areas for picnics, a field for playing Frisbee, and slides for children to enjoy.
One thing to note is that sometimes there can be homeless people living in the forest. However, they generally try to stay away from the main roads.
Another pro tip is to print out trail maps ahead of time, as they only secure them at the trailhead. (Best Things to Do in Arcata)
- Arcata Community Forest
- Address: 14th and Union Street, Arcata, CA
- Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary
An oasis for birds and a wide variety of wildlife, this sanctuary alone has hosted over 300 bird species.
It has 307 acres of marshy, tidal slopes, mud, and meadows and 5 miles (8 km) of walking and biking paths.
It is located along the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory route for thousands of birds arriving from California, Mexico, and Central and South America.
If you’d like a free guided tour, some volunteers will pick you up every Saturday around 2 pm at the Interpretive Center.
Bring the whole family along as you spot herons, herons, and even otters! Watching the sunset as you look out over the Pacific Ocean is also great. (Best Things to Do in Arcata)
- Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary
- Address: 569 SG Street Arcata, CA 95521
- Contact: +1 7078262359
Kayak or Sup in the Bay
Another great way to experience the outdoors is on the water. Humboldt Bay consists of two basins, the northern part being Arcata Bay, while the southern part is Humboldt Bay.
A channel connects them, so you can kayak, canoe, or make your way between them as you check out the wildlife.
The best time to catch a glimpse of nature is from September to April. If your boat is along the shore, you can walk around in a salt marsh!
For rentals, head to the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, located between Arcata Bay and Humboldt Bay.
Here you can rent boats to use alone, sign up for sightseeing tours, or even take educational walks to learn more about wildlife.
Stand-up paddle board (SUP) or kayak rentals are USD 25 and you can also rent smaller sailboats such as lasers, but prior experience is required. (Best Things to Do in Arcata)
- Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center
- Address: 921 Waterfront Drive, Eureka, CA 95501
- Price: 25 USD
- Visit the Humboldt State University Natural History Museum
If you’re in Arcata, check out Humboldt State University. Take a stroll through the campus and tour their world-class sustainable technologies.
The university’s Natural History Museum is a great place to learn more about the natural history around Arcata. It’s also a great place to take the kids!
Take a virtual tour through redwood forests, explore the museum’s vast collection of fossils and pass through local exhibits of birds, native bees, corals, and more. (Best Things to Do in Arcata)
- Humboldt State University Natural History Museum
- Address: 1242 G Street Arcata, CA
- Price: Adults are 6 USD, Children are 3 USD
- Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
- Contact: +1 7078264479
Watch a Show at the Arcata Theater Lounge
What was once an Art Deco cinema since 1938 is now a popular entertainment venue for live concerts, events, and films.
The movie-watching environment is a bit unconventional as the seating arrangement is made with tables and chairs, and you can buy your dinner from the theater to enjoy your movie.
All movies are typically priced at USD 5 and are played on one of the largest cinema screens in Northern California.
Depending on the show, they turn the theater into a stage with partial or full seating for live music shows.
These typically run from USD 6 to USD 40; most are 21 and over, with some showing for all ages.
They also host various events throughout the year, such as Ocean Night Movies, Sci-Fi Pint & Pizza Night, comedy shows, and Monday Night Football Screenings.
As with most of these events, the theater has a full pub-style menu and typical movie snacks such as popcorn and candy. It has 13 beers and locally made kombucha on tap, a popular healthy fermented tea option. (Best Things to Do in Arcata)
- Arcata Theater Lounge
- Address: 1036 G St, Arcata, CA 95521
- Contact: +1 7078221220
Venture into nature and explore this popular college town
There is an abundance of the wildlife to see in Arcata, natural history museums to learn about, and various biological activities around the area.
Enjoy nature, take a college campus tour, or attend fun local events on your next trip to Arcata, California.
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