Arcata is a small university town on the north end of Humboldt Bay. It is well known for its hippie counterculture, progressive politics, and vegetarian restaurants. Arcata is the perfect place to relax and enjoy life the way it should be, enjoying fresh air and an unbeatable natural environment. The pace of things is a little calmer here, with usually as many bicyclists or people on foot as cars go by. Sometimes referred to as being "behind the Redwood Curtain", Arcata has a unique culture that makes you realize that the "outside" world may not have all the answers.
Due to its temperate climate and tolerant residents, Arcata attracts a large transient population, many of whom you will find on the Plaza. Expect to be asked for change every two minutes. Feel free to say no.
There are basically only 2 roads in. You can come from the south or north on the 101 or you can come west on the 299. Highway 36 is an alternative approach to Humboldt County but is quite rough compared to the other two routes. Arcata is 5 hours north of San Francisco, 3 hours west of Redding and 7 hours south of Portland.
Be advised of road closures before traveling in and out of the area. In the winter months heavy rains can cause flooding and mudslides on both US 101 and CA 299. In the summer and fall wildfires may close 299 as well. Most of the time the closures are for less than 24 hours, but occasionally can last for a couple days.
Arcata is the perfect walking town. Park near the Plaza and walk to numerous book stores, shops, galleries, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and banks, all within a few blocks of each other. Walk a little further to visit the Arcata Community Forest, university, or marsh.
Bike lanes abound. Loaner bikes can be checked out of the bike library, in the North Coast Co-op employee parking lot.
Three local bus lines (HTA, A&MRTS, Blue Lake Transit) cover the outer reaches of Arcata and run until 10PM on weekdays. Students with an HSU ID ride for free on A&MRTS and HTA.
Regarding transportation, the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCOAG) is currently revising its Regional Transit Plan, a process occuring every two years which affects the City of Arcata. There is a "Rails to Trails" movement to use existing railroad tracks along the eastern edge of Humboldt Bay for promoting safe bicycle and pedestrian recreation and commuting between Arcata and Eureka. In opposition is an effort to bring back the railroad to promote the movement of goods from north to south, paralleling Highway 101. An additional effort is being made to change the use of the local railroad tracks from movement of goods to movement of people as a light-rail system to reduce automotive transport to and from the main service sector--the neighboring city of Eureka.
Redwood National and State Parks is only a 45 minute drive to the north, with the southern boundary near Orick. Arcata is a great jumping-off point for visiting the ancient ecosystems that are protected inside the park boundary.
Humboldt State University is on the east side of Highway 101.
Great biking trails in Redwood Park; also, hiking trails, and the best playgrounds in town.
The world-famous Arcata Marsh Bird Sanctuary doubles as the town's sewage treatment plant. (It smells and looks better than it sounds). It has walking trails, an Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center and bird watching blinds. It is the home of Godwit Days.
The Arcata plaza is one of the greatest features of this city and also one of the many reasons it is such a great college town. There are always events taking place here, from Farmers' Market to the annual Oyster Festival. The plaza is also the starting point for the Kinetic Sculpture Race.
Arcata is less than 10 minutes from several scenic beaches, which are perfect for family outings, surfing, skimboarding, and all other beach activities.
You can go on a stroll of Downtown and take a tour of the recently installed public sculptures.
Heart Bead, A happenin' bead store on the plaza where they help you create your own jewelry for free! Cool, artsy ladies are eager to offer ideas and creativity.
Northtown Books, small but well stocked independent bookstore. On H St. a block or so up from the plaza.
People's Records, record shop on the Plaza specializing in used vinyl, but carry used CD's as well.
St. Vincent DePaul Store, thrift store, with the usual assortment of clothes, furniture, appliances and kitchenware. On K St. near Samoa Blvd (4th).
Tin Can Mailman, excellent two-story used bookstore. (10th & H)
Wildwood Music, Fretted and stringed instruments, sheet music, amplifiers, etc. On I St., near 11th.
Angels of Hope Thrift Store, 1309 11th St. (West of the plaza, past K St.), ☎ 707 822-5019, . Open every day, see website for hours.. 5,000 square feet of clothes, books, housewares, furniture and craft supplies. A job training location for at-risk youth.edit
Ancient Arts, 1065 K Street (between 10th & 11th), ☎ 707-825-8282, . M-Sat 12-8. A mom-and-pop tattooing/piercing/art gallery that looks like a cross between a medieval freak show and a natural history museum.edit
Willow, 761 8th st (south side of the plaza next to peoples records). 10-6. This is a good clothing store on the plaza that has new and consignment gems, the best dollar rack and probably retail store in town. They got everything from the classic patagonia and hemp solution stuff to new boutique stuff in the frontedit
Scoops, off I and 11th (across from los bagels), . lavendar honey vanilla ice cream. enough saidedit
La Chiquita, kitty-corner from the Minor Theatre, is a "taco truck" serving cheap, decent Mexican food. Hit up the BRC (bean, rice, cheese) for the most bang for your buck.
Wildflower Cafe on G Street is well known for its great vegetarian food.
Wildberries Marketplace (13th & G): You can order a deli sandwich or a juice smoothie, or get soup, salad and olives from the bar. There is also an extensive cold case with freshly made dishes ranging from pasta and lasagna to fruit salads and many exotic specialties, as well as daily grilled meats, vegetables and tofu. There is seating at the front of the store, and along the side in a covered patio with a bayside view. Inside the store is also Ramone's Bakery, with lots of fresh breads and pastries, plus coffee and espresso.
Renata's Creperie on G street has awesome crepes.
Tomo on 8th Street between G&H has Japanese food.
Arcata Pizza Deli (APD) on H Street has burgers (meat and veggie), pizza, salads and the best Tofu Reuben around. Open late.
Greenhouse Boardshop and Juice Bar on 8th St near the Post Office is a surfboard shop--with a cool cafe vibe. Order a panini and smoothie "for here" and watch non-stop surf footage on the big-screen TV.
Stars on G Street has good burgers (beef and veggie) and the best malts in town.
The Alibi on the Plaza has tasty diner fare and good breakfasts with vegetarian options. Rock music most weekends
Ritas, near Greenhouse Boardshop, serves the best Mexican food in town!
Moonrise Herbs has delicious organic soups and salads.
Porter Street Barbeque on Samoa Blvd (4th St.): Excellent tri-tip and chicken sandwiches. The barbeque sauce is made there and very yummy.
3 foods cafe(behind the Co-op)has eclectic ethnic food in a cozy atmosphere.
Live from New York, next door to Sushi Spot, serves huge, tasty slices of pizza with yummy salad on the side. Or get a pie to go!
Los Bagels, 1061 I Street , Arcata CA, ☎ 707-822-3150, . Los Bagels combines a Jewish ethnic tradition with the customs and tastes of Mexico in an outdoor/indoor café that churns with multicultural excitement.edit
Because its so rural, Arcata is pretty much shut down after nine o'clock, but if you are set on staying up late...
The Alibi is a good place to get a local manhattan with an orange twist.
The Humboldt Brewery is a great place to enjoy several of the award-winning micro brews from the Humboldt County area, though they no longer brew beer themselves.
Redwood Curtain Brewing Company is located about 1.6km south of the main square. They do tours and have a tasting room. Redwood Curtain website. Their beer is available at several places in Arcata and Eureka.
Sidelines is more popular among the locals but also a fun and exciting bar for anyone to enjoy.
Planet Chai, Arcata's own local chai, is available at any of the town's coffeeshops.
There are a couple local venues to catch live music in town some nights, including a couple of the bars on the plaza, Humboldt Brewery (10th & I), Muddy Waters and The Metro on G St., as well as Mosgo's coffee shop in the Westwood neighborhood on Alliance Rd.
Toby and Jack's is a laid-back place to meet your friends for a drink.
Wildberries Marketplace is always open until midnight - they have a deli and bakery, Ramone's.
If you enjoy a quieter atmosphere check out Caffe Mokka on 5th and J. Not only is it a small quiet coffee shop that often has live Celtic music, it is home to Arcata's hot tubs. Finnish Country Sauna and Tubs offers private tubs and saunas for solo or group bathers. I suggest you bring your own towels.
Days Inn Arcata, 4975 Valley West Blvd, ☎ +1 707 822-4861, . The Days Inn Arcata offers attractive amenities in California’s famed North Coastline region, home of the giant redwood trees. Enjoy an indoor swimming pool, hearty California breakfast and dining at the hotel restaurant, plus complimentary wireless Internet.edit
Best Western Arcata Inn, 4827 Valley West Boulevard, ☎ +1 707 826-0313 (fax: +1 707 826-0365), . edit
Fairwinds Motel, 1674 G St, ☎ +1 707 822-4824, . 5 minutes walk to Humboldt University, walk to downtown in minutes, Free wifi, No pets.edit
Hotel Arcata, Arcata Plaza Downtown, ☎ +1 707 826-0217, . Right in downtown near all the good shops. Historic landmark with great old photos of town in every hallway.edit
Motel 6 Arcata - Humboldt University, 4755 Valley West Boulevard, ☎ +1 707 822-7061 (fax: +1 707 822-4827), . edit