18 Most Fun Things To Do In Arcata, California

Arcata, situated on the picturesque Northern California coast, boasts a rich history and has become a famous tourism destination for several compelling reasons. 

Established during the Gold Rush era, Arcata, originally known as Uniontown and later Union, played a pivotal role as a provisioning station for the Northern Mines. It competed early on for the County Seat, contributing to its historical significance.

Today, Arcata is renowned for its stunning natural surroundings and nestled between the towering coastal redwoods and the Pacific Ocean, offering access to breathtaking landscapes and outdoor recreational things to do in Arcata, CA. 

Visitors can explore the Arcata Community Forest, the first municipally-owned forest in California, known for its scenic hiking trails and conservation efforts.

Arcata’s historic Plaza is a vibrant cultural hub surrounded by charming shops and eateries. The town’s commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness has earned it a reputation as an eco-friendly destination.

Moreover, Arcata is famous for its vibrant arts and music scene, with numerous festivals and events annually. The town’s friendly, welcoming atmosphere and its emphasis on community engagement make it an appealing spot for tourists seeking a blend of history, nature, and culture.

However, in the mid-19th century, European settlers arrived, establishing Arcata as a lumber town due to its abundant redwood forests.

The city’s charming Plaza, surrounded by historic buildings, offers a glimpse into its Victorian-era heritage. Moreover, Arcata is home to Humboldt State University, adding a youthful vibrancy to the community and hosting cultural events and festivals year-round.

Arcata enjoys a temperate coastal climate with mild, wet winters and cool, foggy summers. The best months to visit are from May to October when the weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 55°F to 65°F (13°C to 18°C). This period offers ideal conditions for outdoor exploration and sightseeing.

These factors combined make Arcata a sought-after tourism destination, drawing visitors worldwide to experience its unique blend of history, natural beauty, and vibrant community life.

1) Arcata Plaza

Arcata Plaza has been famous since the mid-19th century. This picturesque hub features a central lawn surrounded by charming shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is a focal point for community gatherings, including farmers’ markets and festivals. 

Arcata Plaza

Notably, it was the site of the world’s first electrically lit city in 1884, powered by a water wheel-driven generator. The Plaza’s iconic McKinleyville totem pole is a symbol of local indigenous heritage. 

Today, it continues to be a vibrant heart of Arcata, blending history, culture, and commerce, offering a warm welcome to residents and visitors alike.

Arcata Plaza events also boast many exciting activities. Explore eclectic boutiques and art galleries, and dine at diverse gourmet restaurants. The Plaza hosts vibrant farmers’ markets, live music performances, and cultural festivals, fostering a sense of community. 

Nearly Arcata Community Forest offers hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts, while Humboldt Bay beckons birdwatchers and kayakers. 

Enjoy the historic charm, vibrant atmosphere, and local culture that make Arcata Plaza a must-visit destination for shopping, dining, and experiencing the unique spirit of Northern California.


844 H St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

2) Humboldt State University

Humboldt State University major was founded in 1913. It’s renowned for its focus on environmental sustainability and natural sciences. HSU offers undergraduate and graduate programs, emphasizing hands-on learning and research. 

Humboldt State University

Nestled in the beautiful redwood forest of Northern California, the Humboldt State University campus tour provides a unique setting for students interested in environmental studies, forestry, and wildlife. 

Known for its commitment to sustainability, HSU was the first U.S. university to offer a major in energy technology and policy. With a diverse student body, HSU fosters a strong sense of community while promoting environmental stewardship and academic excellence.

The stunning redwood forest surrounding the campus offers hiking trails and many outdoor activities and things to do in Arcata, CA, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The Recreation and Wellness Center provides fitness options, including a climbing wall and group exercise classes. 

Students can explore the campus’ natural beauty in the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology garden. The university’s library also offers extensive resources, and its cutting-edge science labs support research. If you want a place with beauty and education, you should visit HSU!


1 Harpst St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

3) Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center

The Arcata Marsh Wildlife Interpretive Center in Arcata, California, is an educational hub amid the city’s innovative wastewater treatment facility. Established in 1981, it offers visitors insights into the vital role of wetlands in water purification and wildlife habitat. 

Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center

The center is known for Arcata Marsh birdwatching, interactive exhibits, and guided tours highlighting the diverse avian species that inhabit the marsh. 

It serves as a model for sustainable wastewater management and environmental education, promoting the importance of wetland ecosystems in mitigating pollution. 

This community gem fosters ecological awareness and appreciation while aiding in wastewater treatment, exemplifying harmonious coexistence with nature.

The Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center offers various facilities and things to do in Arcata, CA, for nature enthusiasts and curious minds. Explore interactive exhibits showcasing wetland ecosystems and sustainable wastewater treatment practices. 

Join guided birdwatching tours to spot over 300 avian species, including migratory birds. The center boasts well-maintained trails, ideal for leisurely walks and wildlife observation. Picnic areas provide a scenic backdrop for outdoor lunches. 

For educational purposes, there are informative workshops and lectures. Visitors can also immerse themselves in the serene ambiance, enjoying the natural beauty and peaceful ambiance. The center is a haven for environmental learning and outdoor enjoyment, inviting all to connect with nature.


569 South G Street, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

4) Redwood Parks

Redwood Park’s hiking trails, located in Northern California, boast lush old-growth redwood forests. Founded in 1931, it encompasses the Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks, collectively known as the Redwood National and State Parks. 

Redwood Parks

These towering trees, some over 2,000 years old and 370 feet tall, are a testament to nature’s grandeur. Redwood Park’s camping, hiking trails, and scenic drives keep visitors occupied, including the famous Avenue of the Giants. 

This region, rich in biodiversity, preserves habitats for diverse wildlife, including Roosevelt elk and marbled murrelets. It’s a haven for nature enthusiasts seeking tranquility and awe-inspiring beauty.

Redwood Parks offer a host of facilities and amenities to enhance your visit. You’ll find well-maintained campgrounds for a true nature immersion and cozy cabins for a rustic retreat. 

Visitor centers provide educational exhibits and helpful rangers ready to share insights. Picnic areas invite you to savor meals amidst breathtaking scenery. The parks boast numerous hiking things to do in Arcata, CA, ideal for all skill levels, leading to awe-inspiring groves and coastal vistas. 

Birdwatching and wildlife spotting are popular pastimes. Explore pristine rivers or kayak along the rugged coastline if you prefer water adventures, as Redwood Parks promise an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature’s majesty.


Park Drive, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

5) Hatchet House Arcata

The Hatchet House axe throwing in Arcata, California, is a recreational venue that offers axe-throwing experiences. Founded in the early 2020s, it quickly gained popularity as a unique thing to do in Arcata, CA, for locals and tourists. 

Hatchet House Arcata

The facility provides safety training and equipment for participants to enjoy this engaging sport in a controlled environment. With a rustic and welcoming ambiance, the Hatchet House has become a social hub for gatherings, parties, and team-building events. 

Its success is attributed to the fusion of traditional axe-throwing with modern entertainment, making it a memorable destination for those seeking a thrilling and unconventional experience in Arcata.

Step into a rustic and inviting atmosphere where you can try axe-throwing in a safe and controlled environment. Expert staff provide training and ensure safety throughout your experience. 

This unique venue, with comfortable seating and a lively ambience, is perfect for gatherings, parties, and team-building events. Enjoy friendly competitions, challenge your skills, and create lasting memories. 

It’s a fun and thrilling activity that brings people together, making the Hatchet House the go-to destination for unforgettable experiences in Arcata.


737 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

6) Mad River Beach County Park

Mad River Beach County Park surfing boasts a rich history and natural beauty as indigenous Wiyot people historically inhabited it. The park offers a stunning coastline with sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and remarkable wildlife.

Mad River Beach County Park

It’s a popular spot for picnics, beachcombing, and birdwatching. Mad River Beach is renowned for its strong currents, making it a favorite among surfers. 

Over the years, efforts have been made to preserve its ecological significance. It’s a must-visit for those seeking a blend of history and the serene coastal charm of Northern California.

Mad River Beach County Park provides an array of activities and things to do in Arcata, CA, for a delightful visit. Enjoy picnicking in the shaded areas or on the sandy shores with convenient picnic tables and grills available. 

Nature enthusiasts can explore coastal trails and observe diverse wildlife, including shorebirds and seals. Surfing is a thrilling adventure here due to the challenging waves. 

Birdwatchers can spot majestic ospreys and other avian species. Facilities include restrooms, ample parking, and accessibility features. 

You can experience the captivating blend of history and natural beauty while relaxing, playing beach games, or simply savoring the stunning sunsets at this picturesque Humboldt County gem.


1 Mad River Rd, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

7) Arcata Playhouse

Arcata Playhouse’s upcoming shows”

The Arcata Playhouse community theater, located in Arcata, California, is a vibrant community arts venue. Founded in 2004, it has been a hub for diverse cultural events, including theater, music, and workshops. 

Arcata Playhouse

The Playhouse hosts the annual “Festival of Light” parade, showcasing creative illuminated floats. It also runs the “Family Fun Series” and “Experiment in Happiness” programs, emphasizing community engagement. 

This intimate space fosters artistic collaboration and offers a platform for local and touring artists. With its dedication to enriching the cultural landscape, the Arcata Playhouse has become an integral part of the Northern California arts scene.

Do you want to be captured by exciting filmy things to do in Arcata, CA? The intimate theater space is perfect for enjoying live performances, from captivating plays to eclectic music concerts. The venue offers comfortable seating, excellent acoustics, and a cozy ambiance for an unforgettable experience. 

Additionally, the Playhouse hosts art galleries, workshops, and community events, promoting creativity and collaboration. 

Its location in the heart of Arcata means you’re steps away from charming shops, restaurants, and the famous Arcata Plaza. Whether you’re seeking artistic inspiration, entertainment, or a delightful outing, the Arcata Playhouse has it all.


1251 9th Street, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

8) The Arcata Theatre Lounge

The Arcata Theatre Lounge is a historic venue renowned for its unique blend of entertainment. Originally built in 1938, it has evolved from a cinema into a multifaceted space hosting movies, concerts, and events. 

The Arcata Theatre Lounge

The Arcata Theatre Lounge’s live music events, distinctive Art Deco architecture and vintage charm attract locals and tourists. Moreover, it is known for its eclectic programming, classic films and comedy shows, and art exhibitions. 

The lounge also boasts a full bar and a cozy atmosphere, making it a cultural hub in the Humboldt County community, blending history with contemporary entertainment experiences.

The Arcata Theatre Lounge offers diverse, fun things to do in Arcata, CA, ensuring a memorable visit. The historic venue boasts a captivating art deco design, transporting you back in time. 

Enjoy an evening at the movies with screenings of classic films, or immerse yourself in live music concerts, comedy acts, and art exhibitions. The lounge features a full-service bar serving various beverages to enhance your experience. 

Grab a drink and savor it in the cozy, vintage atmosphere. Make sure to attend themed parties and special events that add excitement because it’s a hub for entertainment and culture, blending history with contemporary fun.


1036 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

9) Arcata Farmers’ Market

The Arcata Farmers’ Market, established in 1978 in Arcata, California, is a vibrant community gathering. It showcases local produce, crafts, and artisanal goods. Held on the Arcata Plaza, it’s open from April to November. 

Arcata Farmers' Market

This market fosters a connection between consumers and farmers, promoting sustainability and supporting small-scale agriculture. Visitors can find organic fruits, vegetables, handmade crafts, and live music performances, creating a delightful and diverse experience. 

It’s a testament to Arcata’s commitment to sustainable living and a thriving local economy, drawing residents and tourists to this weekly event.

Let’s connect with Arcata Farmers’ Market vendors! Enjoy a picturesque park setting with benches, making it a perfect relaxing spot and people-watch. Find various delectable food vendors, from gourmet snacks to ethnic cuisines or explore artisanal crafts, jewelry, and local art. 

Live music performances provide a lively backdrop as you browse. Kids can enjoy the interactive playground nearby with many playful things to do in Arcata, CA. 

This family-friendly atmosphere makes it an enjoyable outing for all ages. Plus, the market’s commitment to sustainability aligns with Arcata’s eco-conscious spirit, making it an engaging and educational experience.


G and, 8th Street, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

10) Arcata Community Pool

“Arcata Community Pool lap swimming

Arcata Community Pool

The Arcata Community Pool lap swimming has been a hub of aquatic activity since its opening in 1963. This Olympic-sized pool is part of the Arcata Recreation Division and offers a range of programs, from Arcata Community Pool swim lessons to water aerobics. 

It is a vital resource for the community, promoting water safety and fitness. Over the years, it has hosted numerous competitions and events, fostering a sense of community and healthy living. 

With its decades-long history and commitment to wellness, the Arcata Community Pool remains a cherished asset for locals and visitors.

The Community Pool boasts various activities and things to do in Arcata, CA, for all ages. Its Olympic-sized pool with crystal-clear water is ideal for lap swimming and aquatic exercise. 

The facility offers swim lessons for children and adults, ensuring water safety and skill development. Aquatic fitness classes, such as water aerobics, provide a fun way to stay in shape. For relaxation, there’s a hot tub and sauna on-site. 

Family-friendly features include a separate kiddie pool and a waterslide for thrilling splashes. With a picnic area, it’s perfect for gatherings, so go and enjoy a day of aquatic fun, fitness, and relaxation at this vibrant community gem.


1150 16th St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

11) Arcata SkatePark

The Arcata SkatePark has been a skateboarder hub since its establishment in the early 2000s. This community-built park features a variety of ramps, rails, and obstacles suitable for all skill levels, making it a popular spot for local skaters and visitors alike. 

Arcata SkatePark

Over the years, it has hosted skateboarding competitions and events, fostering a vibrant skating culture. The park’s design encourages creativity and progression in skateboarding. 

Supported by the city and dedicated volunteers, it continues to be a vital part of the skateboarding scene, promoting recreation, outdoor things to do in Arcata, CA, camaraderie, and skill development.

Remember, you must strictly follow Arcata SkatePark rules to enjoy this place fully. Featuring a diverse terrain of ramps, bowls, rails, and ledges, it invites skaters to hone their skills and express their creativity. 

Want to learn Arcata SkatePark skateboard tricks? Explore as this community gem is well-maintained and supported by local volunteers, ensuring a safe and welcoming environment. Spectators can enjoy thrilling tricks and flips while relaxing in the park’s seating areas. 

Nearby restrooms and water fountains provide convenience, and the park’s central location offers easy access. Whether you’re a skating enthusiast or a spectator, Arcata SkatePark promises a vibrant, action-packed experience for all ages.


1090 Sunset Ave, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

12) Humboldt Brews

Humboldt Brews, located in Arcata, California, has been a staple in the craft beer scene since 2001. This beloved brewery and live music venue offers an array of locally crafted beers, showcasing the region’s rich brewing traditions. 

Humboldt Brews

They prioritize sustainability, sourcing ingredients locally when possible. The venue hosts live music events featuring diverse artists, making it a hub for the local music community. 

With its cozy atmosphere, delicious brews, and vibrant entertainment, Humboldt Brews remains a cherished gathering place for beer enthusiasts and music lovers on California’s North Coast.

Humboldt Brews offers a dynamic experience with various fun things to do in Arcata, CA. The brewery boasts a spacious and inviting taproom where you can savor various craft beers, including seasonal and experimental brews. 

Their outdoor patio is relaxing, perfect for enjoying a pint with friends. Live music is a highlight, featuring local and touring artists across various genres, ensuring an entertaining night out. You’ll find tasty pub fare on the menu to complement your drinks. 

Additionally, Humboldt Brews frequently hosts trivia nights, open mic sessions, and themed parties, making it a lively hub for community and culture in Arcata.


856 10th St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

13) Arcata Main Street

Arcata Main Street, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing and promoting downtown Arcata, California. Their mission is to enhance the economic and cultural vitality of the area. 

Arcata Main Street

Arcata Main Street organizes popular events like the monthly Arts! Arcata celebration and the Oyster Festival, drawing locals and visitors alike to experience the town’s vibrant arts and culinary scene. 

They also support local businesses through initiatives like the Farmers’ Market and provide resources for downtown improvements. This organization plays a pivotal role in preserving the charm and vitality of Arcata’s historic downtown district, making it a thriving community hub.

Stroll down picturesque streets lined with unique boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants, all contributing to a charming small-town atmosphere. The monthly Arts! Arcata event showcases local talent, and the annual Oyster Festival is a culinary delight. 

Enjoy the bustling Farmers’ Market for fresh produce, artisanal goods and exciting things to do in Arcata, CA. Discover public art installations and historical landmarks that add character to the area. 

Arcata Main Street’s efforts ensure there’s always something happening in downtown Arcata, making it an inviting destination for shopping, dining, culture, and community engagement.


761 8th St C, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

14) Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs

Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs, founded in 1990, is a company specializing in traditional Finnish sauna experiences. They offer handcrafted, wood-fired saunas and hot tubs, combining Scandinavian design with functionality. 

Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs

These products reflect Finland’s rich sauna culture, known for its relaxation and health benefits. FCS&T’s saunas and tubs are crafted from sustainably sourced materials, embodying a commitment to eco-friendliness. 

Their designs have gained global popularity, promoting the Finnish sauna tradition worldwide. With a blend of craftsmanship and heritage, Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs continues to offer authentic Nordic relaxation experiences while respecting nature’s balance.

Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs provides a serene retreat and things to do in Arcata, CA, nestled in nature. Their facilities include traditional wood-fired saunas, inviting hot tubs, and charming cabins for a complete getaway.

Immerse yourself in the rejuvenating power of Finnish sauna culture as you unwind in the cozy warmth and detoxify your body. Enjoy starlit nights in the outdoor hot tubs, savoring the tranquility of the wilderness. 

Hike scenic trails, go fishing, or simply relish the stillness of the forest. With pristine lakes nearby, you can swim, kayak, or paddleboard. Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, this haven offers an authentic Finnish escape amid breathtaking landscapes.


495 J Street, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

15) North Coast Environmental Centers

The North Coast Environmental Center (NCEC) is a nonprofit organization based in California dedicated to environmental conservation and education. Founded in 1971, NCEC has a rich history of advocating for protecting Northern California’s natural resources and biodiversity. 

North Coast Environmental Centers

They engage in various initiatives, including habitat restoration, environmental education programs, and community outreach. NCEC is vital in preserving the region’s diverse ecosystems and fostering environmental stewardship. 

With over five decades of commitment, NCEC remains a leading voice for sustainable practices and environmental awareness in the North Coast region.

The North Coast Environmental Center (NCEC) offers an array of fun things to do in Arcata, CA, designed to immerse visitors in the natural beauty of Northern California. Explore their nature center with informative exhibits and a resourceful library for environmental enthusiasts. 

Take advantage of their scenic hiking trails that wind through lush forests and breathtaking coastlines. Birdwatching and wildlife observation opportunities abound.

For those seeking hands-on experiences, participate in their habitat restoration projects and learn about local ecosystems. 

Engage in workshops and educational programs to deepen your environmental knowledge. NCEC is not just a destination; it’s a gateway to discovering and preserving the wonders of the North Coast.


415 I St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

16) Creamery District

The Creamery District is a vibrant cultural hub located in Arcata, California. It was historically the site of a dairy cooperative in the late 19th century. Today, it’s a dynamic arts and entertainment district, home to galleries, studios, and theaters. 

Creamery District

The Creamery District hosts regular events like Arts! It’s a testament to Arcata’s commitment to preserving its heritage while embracing contemporary arts and culture. This district embodies the town’s artistic spirit, making it a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

The Creamery District in Arcata offers visitors a rich tapestry of activities and things to do in Arcata, CA. You can explore art galleries showcasing local talent, attend live theater performances, and partake in workshops and classes to ignite your creativity. 

This cultural enclave boasts artisanal shops, cozy cafes, and unique boutiques for shopping enthusiasts. For nature lovers, the district’s proximity to the scenic Humboldt Bay and the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary provides opportunities for bird-watching and serene walks. 

Food lovers can savor diverse culinary delights in nearby restaurants. The Creamery District is a cultural gem, perfect for immersing yourself in art, entertainment, and community spirit.


1251 9th St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

17) Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum exhibits were founded in 1881 and are renowned for their extensive collection of over 80 million specimens, spanning botany, geology, paleontology, and zoology. 

Natural History Museum

The museum’s iconic Victorian architecture and ornate Hintze Hall house awe-inspiring exhibits, including “Dippy”, the Diplodocus skeleton. 

It serves as a research institution and a popular educational destination, fostering an understanding of Earth’s natural history and biodiversity. 

The museum’s mission is to inspire a love for the natural world and promote scientific knowledge, making it a vital resource for scholars and the public.

The Natural History Museum offers visitors many historical things to explore in Arcata, CA. You’ll find interactive exhibits, state-of-the-art multimedia displays, and hands-on activities that make science come alive for all ages. 

Enjoy a bite to eat at the museum’s cafes and restaurants, and remember to visit the museum shop for unique souvenirs.

The museum hosts special events, workshops, and even sleepovers among the dinosaur fossils for family fun. It’s a learning hub with educational programs, guided tours, and expert talks. 

Marvel at rare gems, meteorites, and ancient artifacts, plus, the stunning architecture itself is a sight to behold as a must-visit for anyone curious about the wonders of our planet.


1242 G St, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

18) Greenway Partners

Greenway Partners Community Garden is a sustainable urban development firm founded in 2005. Headquartered in CA, they’ve played a pivotal role in designing and implementing eco-friendly urban spaces. Known for their innovative green infrastructure projects, Greenway Partners has transformed urban environments worldwide. 

Greenway Partners

Their expertise includes sustainable architecture, renewable energy integration, and urban planning that prioritizes environmental conservation and community well-being. 

Over the years, they’ve received numerous awards for their contributions to sustainable urban development, making them a leader in the field. Greenway Partners continues to inspire and shape urban landscapes with their commitment to a greener future.

Residents and visitors can enjoy lush green parks, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and inviting communal spaces. The sustainable design incorporates energy-efficient features, promoting a green lifestyle. 

You can unwind in rooftop gardens, dip in eco-friendly pools, or explore pedestrian-friendly pathways. Entertainment options abound, with theaters, art galleries, and trendy cafes within walking distance. 

For nature enthusiasts, there are wildlife sanctuaries and hiking trails nearby. These eco-conscious developments foster community, hosting events like farmers’ markets and yoga classes. So go and have infinite fun!


1385 8th St #201, Arcata, CA 95521, United States

Best Hotels To Stay In Arcata, CA

  • 1. Hotel Arcata
  • 2. Hampton Inn & Suites Arcata
  • 3. Best Western Arcata Inn
  • 4. Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Arcata
  • 5. Red Roof Inn Arcata
  • 6. Comfort Inn Arcata-Humboldt Area