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Arcata may be the most progressive town in America. Inspired by the forest of redwood trees that surrounds this college town, Arcata is the first California city to ban GMO food and its citizens voted green party members into almost all seats on the city council. Yet the first anglo settlers weren't always so crunchy — throughout the mid 1800s the gold prospectors mined the heck out of the Salmon, Klamath and Trinity Rivers. We have these settlers to thank, however, for building the town square that today hosts picnickers, music events and the weekly farmer's market. While Arcata town has its joys — organic pastries and coffee at Cafe Brio, ...

Arcata may be the most progressive town in America. Inspired by the forest of redwood trees that surrounds this college town, Arcata is the first California city to ban GMO food and its citizens voted green party members into almost all seats on the city council. Yet the first anglo settlers weren't always so crunchy — throughout the mid 1800s the gold prospectors mined the heck out of the Salmon, Klamath and Trinity Rivers. We have these settlers to thank, however, for building the town square that today hosts picnickers, music events and the weekly farmer's market. While Arcata town has its joys — organic pastries and coffee at Cafe Brio, guitar players strumming tunes in the square, more bookshops than any other California coastal town — the highlight remains its proximity to those gentle giants: redwood trees. Just up the hill, you can stroll or bike through the ten miles of trails in the Arcata Community Forest. Or drive north to the Redwood State and National Park to observe the tallest trees on the planet in all their splendor. At night, many of the sustainable eateries in town provide live music in cozy dining rooms.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Early fall, late spring, summer