“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” – Ron White

Arcata, CA – Anytime you start reading an article that has something to do with the beautiful state of California, you immediately know two things: one, you’re going to read about how breathtaking the place is (which we agree with), and two, you’ll be called to visit some part of it, if you haven’t already. And while this is all perfectly fine, there’s one thing you’ll probably have a hard time learning about – those small places and peaceful towns that are just begging for a lonely traveler or two so they could show off their charm. And it just so happens that we, your travel maniacs at, have come across a town that we feel is worthy of every minute of your precious time. Its name is Arcata, CA.

Why Is Arcata, CA, Often Called A College Town?

With a home in Humboldt County, California, Arcata is a town adjacent to the Arcata Bay portion (northern portion) of Humboldt Bay, some 280 miles (450 km) north of San Francisco. Originally called Union or Union Town, this place today has a population of approximately 17,800. If you’ve ever heard about anything that has to do with this gorgeous little place, chances are you’re familiar with the term Humboldt State University. This is the best-known and most popular educational institution in the area, and when you consider that Humboldt U’s student body equals almost half the city’s total population, it becomes clear why Arcata is often referred to as a traditional college town. That being said, the distance between the university center and city center is under a mile (around 1.3 km), and you can get from one to the other in around 15 or so minutes.

Arcata’s History Was Interesting, To Say The Least

Before Europeans came, the area was home to the Yurok and Wiyot people. Actually, the name “Arcata” derives from the Yurok term “oket’oh,” which means “where there is a lagoon (a designation for Humboldt Bay). Today, the Big Lagoon Rancheria tribe have a headquarters in Arcata and maintain a 20-acre (81,000-square meter) reservation nearby. Even though it was not initially settled, the Spaniards were the first to claim the area. The first settlements of a permanent nature, however, were established only after California was admitted to the Union (hence the town’s initial names of Union or Union Town). Created as a port and re-provisioning center for several gold mines in the area, Union Town saw the opening of its first post office in 1852, and in 1860, the name was changed to Arcata.

Where Are The Parties At In Arcata, You Ask?

And just like Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York City has Times Square and Rome has the Coliseum, Arcata’s Plaza is where it all goes down in this charming college town. It is literally the heart of the city, and it is definitely a sight to see, with its extensive flower plantings, green lawn and even a statue of President McKinley, crafted by Haig Patigian. Literally brimming with restaurants, coffee shops, bars, bookstores and live music venues, Arcata’s Plaza is also the location of the largest famers’ market in all of Humboldt County, which takes place April through November. However, the list of interesting events and venues that have a home on this landmark of the town of Arcata is not yet complete. One mustn’t forget the North County Fair, the Kinetic Sculpture Race, the Arcata Main Street Oyster Festival, nor the local Fourth of July festivities. And these are just some of the parties you’ll be able to enjoy here (in addition to the college ones that take place on Humboldt U’s campus, of course).

Things To Do In Arcata, CA

In the end, we’d like to suggest a couple of our favorite must-try’s if the road ever carries you to this gorgeous little place. First of all, every nature lover out there should be on a mission to check out the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary. Located on the beautiful shores of Humboldt Bay, this place boasts 5 miles of pristine walking trails, complete with awesome birding opportunities. Next, for the all-out-foodies among you, Arcata’s 3 Foods Café should not be missed. Basically, this place is the home of creative, whimsical, worldly small plates at relatively cheap prices (some $20 for something like buttermilk fried chicken or even Thai-style tacos). Finally, for the beer-guzzlers – one of the first female-owned breweries in California – the Six Rivers Brewery offers the “Holy Foursome” of every professional establishment: awesome beer, delicious hot wings, occasional live music and a truly great community vibe.

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