From Eureka, it's 7 miles to Arcata, one of my favorite towns on the Northern Coast. Sort of a cross between Mayberry and Berkeley, it has an undeniable small-town flavor -- right down to the bucolic center square -- yet it possesses that intellectual and environmentally conscious esprit de corps so characteristic of university towns (Arcata is the home of Humboldt State University).

Family-type activities abound. On Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings between June and July, Arcata's semipro baseball team, the Humboldt Crabs, plays at Arcata Ballpark (tel. 707/826-2333;, at Ninth and F streets. Also check out the kid-friendly Humboldt State University Natural History Museum, 1315 G St. (tel. 707/826-4479), open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm; Tin Can Mailman, at 10th and H streets (tel. 707/822-1307;, a used-book store with more than 130,000 titles; and Redwood Park (east end of 11th St.), with an outstanding playground for kids and miles of forested hiking trails.

Home to Northern California's indigenous people, the Hoopa Indian Reservation is some 40 miles east of Eureka and a few miles north of Willow Creek. In the Hoopa Shopping Center, the Hoopa Tribal Museum (tel. 530/625-4110) archives Hoopa culture and history, including ceremonial regalia, basketry, canoes, and tools. By appointment, the museum organizes guided tours of Hoopa Valley historic sites, including the traditional village of TakimildiƱ. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm year-round, and in summer on Saturday from 10am to 4pm.