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5 Amazing Things to Do in Crescent City

5 Amazing Things to Do in Crescent City
This North Coast town is home to awe-inspiring forests, river rapids, and good beer

Head to the tippy top of California’s northern coastline to see this sea-faring city with two lighthouses, redwoods, and an ever-changing wildlife show of sea lions, harbor seals, pelicans, and even river otters at Crescent City Harbor. Don’t miss these other cool experiences in this North Coast town.

Discover the Battery Point Lighthouse

In some ways, the 1856 Battery Point Lighthouse, in the town of Crescent City, is pretty impenetrable: It was built to withstand squalls, gale-force winds, and even the occasional tsunami. It’s not easy to get to, either—California’s northernmost lighthouse is perched on a tiny near-shore island that can be reached only at low tide and on foot. But it’s totally worth the effort. When the ocean recedes, you can walk across a causeway, climb the narrow spiral staircase to the lamp room, then crawl up a ladder and through a trapdoor for a spectacular 360-degree view. The beach across from the lighthouse is perfect for little ones who enjoy beachcombing.

Ogle the old-growth trees

Pitch a tent in the shadows of towering redwoods at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, a few miles northeast of Crescent City. An 86-site, dog-friendly campground sits beside the emerald Smith River in a lush glade filled with ferns and old-growth trees. Walk from your tent to the 340-foot-tall Stout Tree and its ancient redwood brethren—an easy jaunt for kids, too—or go for a drive on spectacular Howland Hill Road, a 10-mile winding dirt road through stands of magnificent old-growth woodland.

Paddle the Smith River

The Smith is California’s largest free-flowing river system as well as the fertile home of huge chinook salmon and steelhead. Hook up with an expert guide from Redwood Rides and you’ll learn about the unique geology of the Smith River watershed while you paddle through Class I and II whitewater and even a few small rapids. Want something tamer and more kid-friendly? Sign up for the company’s Redwoods by River kayaking trip, and float your inflatable craft along the lazy river in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Taste cheese downtown

Wander the shops and restaurants in Crescent City's quaint downtown, and stop by Rumiano Cheese Store to sample the natural and organic products from California's oldest family-owned cheese company. Ask to learn more about Rumiano’s hand-dug cellar, where they age wheels of dry Monterey Jack and Peppato cheese covered in a special blend of pepper and cocoa powder. 

Sample local suds

You can’t go wrong with brick-oven pizzas, cheese curds, and well-brewed craft beer. Dogs and kids are welcome at Seaquake Brewing’s on-site brewery and tap room, where specialties include a complex blonde ale, a coastal pale ale, and an IPA.

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Crescent City: 5 Amazing Things
This North Coast town of Crescent City is home to awe-inspiring forests, river rapids, and great beer.
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Discover the North Coast

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June
Average (°F)
June - Aug
62°
High
51°
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Sept - Nov
63°
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45°
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June - Aug
62°
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51°
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Mar - May
58°
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43°
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Romance finds a home in this idyllic coastal region, where ocean fog rolls in from the ocean to blanket hushed redwood forests, and whales spout offshore. Along the coast, artists set up their easels to paint scenes of crashing surf and whitewashed cottages wrapped in rose-filled gardens.

Each year, December through May, look to the sea to witness roughly 15,000 gray whales swimming south for the summer.

It’s also a place where a new generation of farmers and winemakers focus on preserving the land as well as producing amazing food and wine. Favorite escapes include the romantic hamlet of Mendocino, roughly a 3-hour drive up the coast from San Francisco, and Eureka, a former logging town 2 hours further north, and the gateway to breathtaking Redwoods National and State Parks.

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Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

Best Beaches on the North Coast

Explore the breathtaking scenery of the wild Sonoma and Mendocino coasts—from sandy shores to the top of a lighthouse

North of San Francisco, there's a whole other world of California, where rugged cliffs, towering redwood trees, and artsy towns dot an idyllic...

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Clint Farlinger/Alamy

Klamath

Redwoods, salmon, and California’s largest tribe all thrive in this small North Coast town

Klamath is so far north that many people assume this tiny town is in Oregon, not California. Set along its...

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Tour an inspiring compound dedicated to an almost-lost art

Eric Hollenbeck didn’t plan to be a time traveler, or a museum curator, or a model of how to take care of troubled youth or returning war vets....

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Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake within California, is the oldest lake in North America and possibly the world.
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From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
John Muir
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Kodiak Greenwood

Spotlight: Mendocino

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Discover a coastal paradise with ridiculously fresh seafood, amazing wine, and craft beer

With its dramatic ocean-bluff setting overlooking a steel-blue sea, this coastal hamlet is an obvious magnet for artists, romantics, and lovers of...

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Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Northern California

Explore the best of Northern California's Great Outdoors
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At 115 feet, Point Arena Lighthouse is the tallest climbable lighthouse on the West Coast.
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North Coast Wine Country

Slip away to some of the state’s most peaceful vineyards

From quiet vineyards bounded by lush redwood forests along the Mendocino Coast, to the sun-drenched rolling hills of rugged Lake County, the North...

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Courtesy of County of Lake

Clear Lake

Explore a burgeoning wine scene and cool off with a summery splash in the lake

Take a deep breath the next time you’re in Lake County. That’s some of the cleanest air in the nation, according to the American Lung...

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Wine & Dine in the North Coast

Sample hyper-local foods from land and sea, plus amazing beers and wines

The North Coast might just be the perfect place to eat. Few other places in the world can offer such a harmonious blend of chefs, farmers,...

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Follow celebrated routes to iconic vineyards and tucked-away surprises

With more than 4,000 wineries statewide, California lets you sample award-winning wines almost anywhere you go. These classic and up-and-coming wine roads—some too packed with wineries to tackle...

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Celebrate the seasonal bounty and quirky art-fueled character of the North Coast

You can learn a lot about a place at its local festivals. Consider the Kinetic Grand Championship, a cosmically silly three-day battle between human-powered works of art (imagine a speeding dragon...

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The Humboldt County Fair began in 1896 and is the oldest running county fair in California.
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Courtesy of Humboldt County CVB

Ferndale

Visit a Victorian village where time stands still

A fairytale come to life, this remote village features carefully preserved Victorian-era century homes, a visual and architectural feast. On a...

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Skunk Train

Ride a historic train through soaring coast redwoods

Originally built to transport redwood logs from the rugged backcountry to the coast, this 1885 heritage railroad now ferries sightseers to and fro...

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Courtesy of Humboldt County CVB

Eureka

Nature and culture merge in an art-fueled Victorian seaport

This lively seaport town, the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, has split-personality charm: a sense of history in...

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While now a beautiful coastal treasure, Glass Beach initially began in the late 1940s as a place where locals would toss their trash, including glass bottles.
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Fort Bragg

Rough-and-tumble lumber town morphs into a top coastal find

With its original roots as a military garrison and then a gritty lumber town, Fort Bragg skirted under the radar of most visitors. But now—perhaps...

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Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

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Trip 4 days 10 stops

Wild North Coast

Wine, Romance & Sunsets