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Eureka Travel Guide, California

Situated in the Humboldt County along the shore of Humboldt Bay, with a population of 27,000 Eureka is an important city on the Redwood Coast.

In the past its industry was mainly based on timber and fishing. Eureka's lumber trade was a very profitable and brought many people a fortune. Just to have an idea, in 1856, there were seven sawmills producing 2 million board feet of lumber every month. Still the place was considerer rather wild with people that fit the surrounding and fit for what Jack London looked for to base his characters on. Part of the city’s industry is still based on fishing with a fishing fleet of about 200 boats, Humboldt Bay supplying a large portion of California's fish.

Even if the new part of the city has not much to offer the Old Town along the waterfront and Downtown district is one of Eureka’s greatest assets which are worth exploring as here you find a large number of Victorian buildings, a museum, and some good-quality stores and restaurants and it is truly a delightful place to shop, stroll and dine or take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Every important event takes place here and so do Eureka’s many fairs and festivals.

The commercial buildings have been lovingly restored, and now contain bookstores, restaurants, coffee houses, galleries, a variety of unusual boutiques and museums. One of these restored buildings now houses the Morris Graves Museum of Art, with four galleries showcasing local artists as well as traveling exhibitions; another one is the Clarke Memorial Museum that has a fine collection of Native American baskets and other artifacts.

The old, magnificent Victorian houses are a top attraction. One of them is the architectural gem called the Carson Mansion, one of the most photographed Victorian home in the United States, and is truly a wooden fairytale castle. Dating 1886 the 18-room mansion was the property of lumber baron William Carson. The ornamentation is a mix of styles, but visitors can see only the outside of the house as today it’s a private club. Across the street is another well-known Victorian, the Pink Lady designed for William Carson as a wedding present for his son.

Next to the Old Town historic district is the city's newest development, the waterfront boardwalk along Humboldt Bay. It opens a section of the waterfront that was previously closed to the public, offering sweeping views of the harbor and bay. It is a great place to stroll and to watch the water. Still very much a working port, Eureka’s colorful fishing boats and pleasure craft can be seen coming and going and what place could be more perfect to watch it from if not from a restaurant. You can get another great view of Eureka if you board the Madaket from the Humboldt Bay Harbor Cruise. The Madaket is a state historic landmark and an original 1910 passenger ferry in continuous service in the United States. Once on board you can also enjoy a drink at the smallest licensed bar in California.

For more active water recreation, kayaks, canoes, and sailboats can be rented from Hum Boats Tours and lessons are available as well.

On the south side of town, Humboldt Botanical Gardens and Eureka’s Sequoia Park & Zoo are two perfect gems for an outing with the children. Among old-growth redwoods there are two playgrounds, nature trails, a duck pond, and a charming small zoo.

Humboldt Bay is the winter home for thousands of migratory birds and the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge gives visitors the opportunity to see many of the 200 or so species that live in the marshes. The best period for bird watching is between September and March.

With a perfect location, Eureka is the ideal place for outdoor activities and the starting point for your Redwood Coast adventures. But it is also worth taking some time to look around town and you will be surprised and delighted by Eureka’s many treasures.

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