Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Humboldt County, CA

  • Published 2022/11/04

If you’re seeking a dreamy vacation destination, go to Humboldt County, California.

This county, perched on the shores of the Pacific in northern California, is famous for magnificent towering redwood trees and lush green landscapes.

However, there is more to Humboldt County than meets the eye.

It has pristine lakes, rivers, and unspoiled natural wonders that virtually take you to a magical world.

Humboldt County boasts more than 20 plus state, community, and national parks, reserves, and forests.

It’s also home to over 30 beaches, with awe-inspiring sights you won’t find anywhere else.

Eureka, the county seat and largest city, is an ideal basecamp for your travel adventure in Humboldt County.

This city alone has plenty of exciting activities through its downtown, filled with historical attractions and charming shops.

If you’re searching for the best things to do in Humboldt County, you have come to the right place.

Read the list below of the best things to do in Humboldt County, California.

Stroll through the Redwood Sky Walk

A person walking along Redwood Sky Walk

Conor P. Fitzgerald /

Redwood Sky Walk is one of Sequoia Park Zoo’s main attractions.

Experience walking above a hundred feet suspended canopy trails installed on towering redwood trees.

The Redwood Sky Walk stretches a quarter-mile, where you can enjoy self-guided tours through 60-plus acres of Sequoia Park Zoo’s unspoiled natural beauty.

People on Redwood Sky Walk

Conor P. Fitzgerald /

You’ll also come across various interpretive signs describing the area’s rich ecology and fascinating information about the redwoods.

Seeing the verdant forest floor under the canopy of centuries-old redwood trees is worth your time and energy.

Marvel at the Carson Mansion

Exterior of the Carson Mansion

calimedia /

Carson Mansion is the epitome of elegant and beautiful Queen Anne Style-Victorian architecture.

You can visit this historical Victorian house along M. Street in Eureka.

Admire its intricate and elegant 1800s architecture.

The house’s design features turrets, towers, roofs, and columned porches, each with vivid and intricate details.

Close view of the Carson Mansion

Matt Gush /

The Carson Mansion is one of California’s most photographed mansions.

Still, the house is off-limits as it serves as a private club venue.

Nonetheless, you can still join thousands of visitors stopping outside the mansion to take gorgeous photos as souvenirs.

Feel the Ocean Breeze through Madaket Harbor Cruise

Joining the Madaket Harbor Cruise offers a different perspective on exploring Humboldt County.

You can visit this famous ferry guided tour along C. Street on Eureka’s waterfront.

Join exploring Humboldt Bay with its crew aboard the nation’s oldest passenger ferry, the Madaket.

Historically, Madaket is the last of the seven original ferries that transported mill workers and their families in and out of Humboldt Bay in the early 1900s.

The cruise takes about an hour through 8.5-miles of some of the most scenic locations in Humboldt County.

Don’t miss the Madaket Harbor Cruise and explore the best whale-watching spots, historical areas, and cocktail cruises through Humboldt Bay.

Roam the Ferndale Museum

Display in the Ferndale Museum

Ellin Beltz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ferndale Museum is another recommended historical attraction in Humboldt County.

You can visit this museum along Shaw Avenue in the city of Ferndale.

Spending an hour or two at this museum allows you to explore various fascinating historical galleries and exhibits.

It mainly features Ferndale’s culture and heritage and its relevance to the Mattole Valleys and Eel River.

While exploring, you’ll find various old magazines, photographs, and other fascinating collections detailing Ferndale’s yesteryears.

Besides the main exhibits, the Ferndale Museum has an active blacksmith shop, a seismograph, and a player piano, which are older than you can imagine.

Stand beside Redwoods at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Trail line with redwood trees at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Radoslaw Lecyk /

The Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is one of the most famous attractions you mustn’t miss in Humboldt County.

You can visit this massive 14,000-acre park along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in the census-designated community of Orick.

It’s mainly famous for its centuries-old Coast Redwood Trees, which you can see up close through its ten-mile scenic drive.

If you’re yearning to connect with nature, there are various campgrounds in the state park to stay overnight.

Stream at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Aneta Waberska /

At the same time, you can head out and hike through the state park’s lush forests and see various local wildlife.

You’ll come across Roosevelt elk, spotted owls, and even see whales from a distance throughout your hike.

While exploring Humboldt County, you should list Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in your itinerary.

Elk at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Sean Wandzilak /

Indulge in Fresh Seafood with the Humboldt Bay Oyster Tours

The Humboldt Bay Oyster Tours is a famous culinary tour that takes you to various areas throughout Humboldt Bay to catch and eat fresh oysters and seafood.

You can join one of its exciting and mouthwatering tours by visiting its office along G. Street in Eureka.

Depending on your preferred starting area, the tour takes you through Arcata Marsh or Woodley Island on a motorboat.

If you don’t want to get messy harvesting oysters, proceed to the Old Town Eureka Tasting Room to taste freshly-harvested oysters.

Then, pair them with the best sides and condiments.

Joining the Humboldt Bay Oyster Tours is a one-of-a-kind activity that tickles your taste buds with the world’s best oysters.

Travel Back in Time to Eureka Historic Old Town

Buildings along Eureka Historic Old Town

calimedia /

Eureka Historic Old Town is a charming attraction in the city of Eureka.

It’s the city’s best spot to see dozens of beautiful Victorian-era buildings which house shops, bookstores, and restaurants.

Strolling through this place allows you to mingle with the locals and discover Eureka’s rich history through guided tours.

You’ll go to the Clarke Historical Museum, the former Bank of Eureka building, during your tour.

A victorian house at Eureka Historic Old Town

Victoria Ditkovsky /

At the same time, you can also proceed to the Eureka Waterfront Trail, which overlooks the picturesque Humboldt Bay.

For a relaxing leisure time, head to novelty stores, restaurants, cafes, and gift shops surrounding the downtown’s famous gazebo fountain.

Wrap up your visit to Eureka Historic Old Town with a delicious dinner at a restaurant serving fresh seafood and other delicious cuisines.

Odd fellows hall at Eureka Historic Old Town

Pamla J. Eisenberg, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover Humboldt’s Past at Clarke Historical Museum

Facade of Clarke Historical Museum

Chris Haden /

Clarke Historical Museum along E. Street in Eureka houses Humboldt County and Northern California’s rich history and culture.

Florida high school teacher Cecile Clark founded the museum, one of the region’s premier museums.

The museum boasts a vast collection of Humboldt County’s history.

It has exhibits about Native American heritage and culture, the lumber industry, the gold rush settlements, and livelihoods back in the day.

Front view of Clarke Historical Museum's exterior

NoeHill, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Besides its main display, browse its natural history section.

It has an extensive collection of prehistoric rocks and various species of birds preserved in pristine condition.

As you wander deeper into the museum, you’ll come across the Vietnam War memorial section, the Victorian area, and the firefighting collection.

Don’t forget to include the Clarke Historical Museum if you’re fascinated to discover Humboldt County’s rich past.

Take a Glance at the Firehouse Alarm-Horse Drawn Wagon Mural

One of Eureka’s best public art installations is the Firehouse Alarm-Horse Drawn Wagon Mural.

You can visit this art attraction along 3rd Street and join fellow art lovers in taking photos and getting a closer look at this magnificent mural.

This mural by Eureka’s local artists depicts a magnificent horse-drawn fire wagon to pay tribute to the Hose Company Number 4.

In addition, visiting this place allows you to explore Eureka’s vibrant arts scene by joining guided tours with local artists.

Eureka has various public art installations as beautiful as the Firehouse Alarm-Horse Drawn Wagon Mural.

Don’t forget to visit this mural and join art-oriented guided tours with Eureka’s local artists for a fun experience.

Take a Ride with the Old Town Carriage Co.

View of an Old Town Carriage ride

Chris Haden /

Hop on the Old Town Carriage Co.’s rides for a more comfortable and worthwhile tour through Eureka Historic Old Town.

You can find this horse-drawn carriage tour ride along F. Street in Eureka’s Historic Old Town.

Exploring this favorite part of Eureka is fun, especially riding on its horse-drawn carriage that takes you to the best spots in the area.

During the ride, a tour guide fascinatingly details the backstories of the famous historical attractions you’re passing by.

Riding the Old Town Carriage Co.’s horse-drawn carriage tour is a great family activity.

Otherwise, take a romantic ride with your special someone, especially during the evening when Eureka’s Historic Old Town lights up with colorful hues.

Pass the Famous Shrine Drive Thru Tree

Daytime view of Shrine Drive Thru Tree

jejim /

Driving through the Shrine Drive Thru Tree is probably one of the most unique experiences while touring through Humboldt County.

This iconic driveway allows you to drive through a tunnel carved out of an ancient redwood tree.

Signage of Shrine Drive Thru Tree

Danita Delimont /

Humboldt County’s locals punched a tunnel through a redwood tree to conveniently allow motorists to pass by instead of uprooting it.

That idea turned into the famous Shrine Drive Thru Tree, one of Humboldt County’s main tourist spots.

A car passing through the Shrine Drive Thru Tree

Keirn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend the Day at Humboldt Coastal Nature Center

The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center features the famous natural attraction, the Manila Dunes.

You can visit this place along Stamps Lane in the City of Arcata.

Thousands of visitors flock to this nature center and see the uncanny resemblance of its building to the blockbuster movie The Lord of the Rings.

Above all, it has over a thousand acres of coastal wildlife habitat to explore.

Moreover, Humboldt Coastal Nature Center offers you a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure.

Discover its scenic coastal trails, vast dunes, and wildlife you’ll only see in the area.

At the same time, it’s a rare opportunity to learn the importance of this wildlife habitat to Humboldt County and its biodiversity.

Traverse the Avenue of the Giants

The road of Avenue of the Giants

Jonathan A. Mauer /

The Avenue of the Giants is the world’s finest forest drive.

You can traverse this famous thoroughfare starting at Myers Flat.

Driving here takes you through various parts of Humboldt County, spanning over 31 miles.

Hiking trail at Avenue of the Giants

EyeLights West /

The entire stretch has the famous and towering redwood trees lining up on the roadside, adding a more dramatic experience while driving through the stretch.

Along the way, make numerous stopovers to take photos of the scenic waterways, tall redwood trees, and forests surrounding the entire area.

You can also set up your camp and spend the day at the numerous campgrounds, hamlets, trails, and picnic areas along the Avenue of the Giants.

The waters of Avenue of the Giants

Anna Westman /

Gaze at the Horizon at Cape Mendocino Lighthouse at Shelter Cove

Exterior of the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse

Bob Pool /

Check out the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse at Shelter Cove before heading home.

This centuries-old lighthouse in the unincorporated community of Whitethorn is the perfect spot to relax and pass the time.

This lighthouse, constructed in 1868, has been relocated to preserve its historical value.

Today, the newly-restored lighthouse at Shelter Cove provides the public with a gorgeous attraction.

You can climb the 43-feet tall lighthouse and see the vast Pacific Ocean and the horizon from a distance.

At the same time, you can proceed to Cape Mendocino Lighthouse’s beach area to sit down, meditate, and feel the ocean breeze brushing against your skin.

Don’t miss this famous lighthouse before wrapping up your Humboldt County adventure.

Express Your Love for the Arts with Redwood Art Association

The Redwood Art Association comprises a community of local artists throughout Humboldt County.

They are stationed along F. Street in Eureka.

This art group, formed in 1956, has over 250 member artists and avid supporters.

The Redwood Art Association organizes exciting and meaningful art-related activities and exhibitions year-round.

Don’t miss checking out its headquarters, which also serves as its gallery, to catch up on its upcoming events and celebrate its passion for arts.

At the same time, you can join guided tours taking you through public art installations found along Eureka’s streets.

Final Thoughts

Humboldt County offers you a magical travel experience strolling through its lush forests that highlights the towering centuries-old redwood trees.

Meanwhile, its cities and communities warmly welcome visitors with its old-town charm, historical attractions, and meaningful activities.

You can enjoy dozens of exciting things in this Northern California county.

Pin this post of the best things to do in Humboldt County, California, for a memorable experience.

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