10 Things to Do in Arcata, CA
Once you’ve had your fill of redwoods, look for these ten things to do in Arcata, CA.
Get Caffeinated at Cafe Brio
Humboldt doesn’t have a blow-your-mind coffee scene, save for the Plaza’s Cafe Brio – which, as far as I can tell, has the only pour-over in town. For my less snobbish friends, a pour-over is when you brew coffee by pouring water over it. It’s like Mr. Coffee, but instead of a machine, it’s a person. If that person’s name was Mr. Coffee, then you’ve got a real riot on your hands.
An honorable mention goes to the patio at Wildberries Marketplace for the best view in town. It’s inside a grocery store, so the ambiance leaves something to be desired. But, there is a water feature.
Sip Wine at Septentrio
Google Maps will have you walking around the block, but once you find Septentrio feel free to settle in for a few glasses. Staff is super-friendly – and the patio is dog-friendly. There’s a cozy space tucked away inside for times when you need to complain about your boss. Plus, you’ve got a food truck a few steps away.
If you want a more of a classic winery feel, take a short drive north to Fieldbrook.
Throw an Axe at Hatchet House
It’s no accident that Hatchet House is across the street from Septentrio. But note, you’ll be switching to beer when you start throwing axes down the bowling-lane like alleys. So far, my recommendation for Wiimote-style wristbands has fallen on deaf ears.
Wander the Arcata Community Forest
Forests are a dime a dozen in Humboldt, but for a quick hike, Arcata’s Community Forest has them beat. The first time I went, I found someone playing a fiddle in the middle of nowhere. Wild stuff. Despite its central location, you’ll have no trouble getting some solitude. There are tons of interweaving trails to keep things fresh – plus, some topsy turvy mountain biking sections.
I’d suggest downloading a trail map before you go. Data connections get spotty and it’s easy to lose your sense of direction. I wouldn’t form a search party if you get lost, but you may wander around for an extra hour.
Soak at Cafe Mokka
Probably the most out-of-place thing in Arcata – and that’s saying something. Cafe Mokka is a Finnish-style spa and cafe, which you’ll find in the dictionary under “oasis.” Head over on a cool, rainy evening (not uncommon in Humboldt) for warm water and an espresso shot in a private hot tub. You can call up to 24 hours ahead of time to reserve a spot – but can usually walk-in and wait if the timing is right.
Just a word to the wise: water is changed every Tuesday. Cafe Mokka was described to me more than once as the “soak and poke.”
People Watch on the Plaza
True story: I’m sitting on a park bench in the Plaza. The guy next to me pulls out a 64oz mason jar of bud, rolls a joint, and smokes it within contact-high of a cop. Being a good Midwesterner, this freaked me out. But Arcata’s Plaza is a square-block surrounded by reality. Visit anytime for a cross-section of Arcata’s population.
Pacific Paradise dispensary is just a couple blocks away.
Carbo-Load at Los Bagels
Do people still carbo-load? Let’s not find out. Los Bagels is a Humboldt-staple. For those who don’t speak Spanish, this place is called “The Bagels,” and they serve bagels. What kinds of bagels? All kinds. But this isn’t some kind-of Panera knock off. We’re talking about chorizo on bagels. And if you know me, then you know I love chorizo.
For more food, try Hole in the Wall Sandwiches (go early for the homemade bread) and Hey Juan Tacos (but get the Paste of Death on the side).
Sample Cider at Bittersweet
Everybody in Arcata loves this place – for good reason. Head over for a rotating selection of 20+ ciders and an indoor-outdoor space. If somebody is talking about doing a happy hour after work, this is usually the place.
And holy hell, they’ve got empanadas too. Not to be missed at Slice of Humboldt Pie, which shares the space with Bittersweet (and is an LGBTQ-owned business). For beer, hit up Humbrews, it’s within walking distance, like most everything in downtown Arcata.
Visit the End of the World on Fickle Hill
In Arcata, you’ll spend most of your time underneath the Redwood curtain. This scenic overlook is an exception known around town as the “edge of the world” or the “end of the world” on Fickle Hill. Just take your car 20 minutes up the road and stop when you see a rusty, red, metal fence to your left. Park and take a short walk. The view is lovely, just beware the used condoms.
Here are the coordinates.
Take a Madaket Harbor Cruise
I’m cheating on this one since it departs out of Eureka. But it’s worth the drive! You’ll get a chance to sail around Arcata Bay on a 1 to 1.5-hour cruise, which includes access to California’s smallest, licensed bar.
I’ll let you soak that in.
Plus, the Madaket is the oldest passenger carrying vessel in continuous service in the United State. So in terms of old boats with small bars, it’s on top of my list (full list coming soon, but not really).