296 miles N of San Francisco

At first glance, Eureka (pop. 27,000) looks unappealing: Fast-food restaurants, cheap motels, and shopping malls predominate on the main thoroughfare. But if you turn west off U.S. 101 anywhere between A and M streets, you'll discover Old Town Eureka along the waterfront, which is worth exploring. It has a large number of Victorian buildings, a museum, and some good-quality stores and restaurants.

The city's newest development is a waterfront boardwalk between C and F streets, adjacent to the Old Town historic district. This section of the waterfront, previously closed to the public, now offers sweeping views of the harbor and bay.

For more visitor information, contact or visit the Eureka/Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1034 Second St., Eureka, CA 95501 (tel. 800/346-3482 or 707/443-5097; www.redwoodvisitor.org), or the Eureka Chamber of Commerce, 2112 Broadway, Eureka, CA 95501 (tel. 800/356-6381; www.eurekachamber.com).