Our good friend moved to Arcata, CA to attend Humboldt State University, so we figured, what better time than now to travel the land beyond the San Francisco area? Devin and I travel to the Bay Area about once a year to see my family and the most north we’ve gone together is to Napa, CA. Arcata is about four hours north of San Francisco, so with a 12-hour drive ahead of us, naturally we left at 4AM!

Leaving early turned out to be great because we made it through Los Angeles and to the Grapevine before traffic began. It was smooth sailing and not too unpleasant, thanks to the stock of podcasts we listen to:

Doug Loves Movies

Hollywood Babble-On

NPR’s Car Talk

Adam Carolla

This American Life

Once we crossed the San Rafael Bridge, we were on the 101, which was beautiful, but could  be painstakingly slow going at times since we had to slow down to 30 MPH at times to go through small towns or really sharp turns through the forest.

Devin loved Arcata immediately and I agreed that the scenery was beautiful on our drive up and driving past the calm water of Arcata Bay. The houses were really cute and there were trees everywhere. Devin would eventually fall even more in love with Arcata as we awoke to foggy mornings, which turned into cloudy and cold days. Any appreciation I had for Arcata began to drastically dwindle when I realized I’d forgotten to bring a jacket.

We visited the Arcata North County Fair, which was much smaller than the San Diego and Orange County Fairs that I’m used to! The vendors surrounded Arcata Plaza, with food vendors in the middle of the square. We bought some heirloom tomatoes (my first!) at the Arcata Farmer’s Market right next to the fair.

For lunch, we stopped at Arcata Pizza & Deli, or APD, as the locals call it. I had a huge Pastrami Reuben Sandwich on hearty slices of rye. You can see that the rye was buttered and grilled until crispy. There was a generous portion of tangy sauerkraut with a more generous helping of pastrami. Hidden inside was melted Swiss cheese and with the creamy thousand island dressing, this sandwich was delicious.

Between the three of us, we shared a basket of fries, which was huge! The fries were crisp and properly salted, the perfect accompaniment to my Reuben sandwich.

For dessert later that night, we went to Arcata Scoop, which is in a cute, Robin’s egg blue-colored converted house. I got a scoop of vanilla honey lavender, which was creamy, but I didn’t enjoy the tough pieces of lavender. Inside the ice cream shop was a large four-person rocking booth with wooden giraffes as the posts!

We went to the Arcata Community Forest for a brisk morning hike before heading to Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka.

We conveniently parked on campus and the trail head started right behind the dorms. Tall redwood trees provided shade as we walked alongside a stream. Some redwood tree trunks were hallowed out by forces of nature, so that a person could crawl inside. There were twisting vines and branches creating beautiful canopies that the sunlight sparkled through. On our leisurely walk through the forest, we saw many of these banana slugs!

The last place on my list of required places to visit while in Arcata was Los Bagels, which happened to be right across the street from Arcata Scoop.

Los Bagels smelled delicious from the moment we stepped inside. There were fresh bagels baking and a pastry case, along with shelves of jalapeno jelly, ceramic mugs, and Slug Slime for sale. I got a Sushi Bagel on a toasted multi-cultural bagel. The cream cheese has a hint of green from spicy wasabi, which is then topped with lox, cucumbers, black sesame seeds, and I requested the addition of red onions. The warm bagel, creamy lox, and crisp cucumbers really hit the spot, while the wasabi cream cheese woke me up!

On our last day in Arcata, we had the realization that we weren’t that far from Oregon. In fact, we weren’t that far from Portland, a city that we were very interested in visiting. And Devin can work from anywhere! After checking the distance between Arcata to Portland (8 hours), ensuring our pet sitters didn’t mind looking in on our furry babies again, and asking our host if we could swing back for another stay on our way home, we were off to Portland!


Things we loved about Arcata: cold weather (Devin), trees everywhere, everything is walking distance, small town, cute houses

Things we did not love about Arcata: people loitering around Arcata Plaza who approached us asking for food, cold weather (Alyssa), hippies