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Northern California is one giant treasure chest for anyone who likes pristine nature and fascinating historic places. The rugged and rural Humboldt County, encompassing a huge area of wilderness and coastline, is centered around the small city of Eureka, situated on Humboldt Bay.
Eureka has a long and interesting history. Native Americans thrived here for thousands of years thanks to its abundant natural resources, and Europeans only settled here in the 1800s, as the weather and terrain hid the bay from their view for centuries.
It was the ideal spot for sending provisions to the miners working the region’s rivers during the gold rush. That’s where the town’s name comes from – “Eureka!” is rooted in a Greek saying that means “I’ve found it!”
Today, the city has a quaint downtown area with many historic buildings, trendy eateries, and boutique shops. Just down the road, there’s a famous zoo and nature park, while long, sandy beaches can be found on the other side of the bay. Book a stay at one of the best Eureka hotels while exploring the state parks, national parks, and other attractions of the greater area.
It’s a small city, but you still have multiple options when choosing where to stay in Eureka. The most popular hotels are in Old Town Eureka, but you can also stay just outside or closer to the sandy shores. Read on to see the advantages of each spot, along with the best hotels and vacation rentals for all sorts of tastes and budgets.
- TL;DR – Our Favorite Places to Stay in Eureka
- Best Areas in Eureka
- Where to Stay in Eureka, California
- 1. Old Town Eureka: Best for First-Timers/Tourists
- 2. Western Eureka: Best for Seeing the Rest of Southern Humboldt County
- 3. Arcata: Best for Seeing the Rest of Northern Humboldt County
- 4. Samoa: Best for a beach vacation
- What budget-friendly accommodations are available in Eureka?
- Are there any luxury hotels in Eureka?
- What are the top tourist attractions in Eureka?
TL;DR – Our Favorite Places to Stay in Eureka
|Luxury Hotel||Carter House Inns & Restaurant 301||Old Town Eureka||Historic building, central location, rooms with views|
|Mid-Range Hotel||Best Western Plus Bayshore Inn||Western Eureka||Indoor pool, next to shopping mall, quick highway access|
|Budget Hotel||Super 8 by Wyndham Eureka||Old Town Eureka||Free breakfast, low rates, suites with kitchenettes|
|Vacation Rental||Fairhaven Retreat 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom||Samoa Peninsula||Large house, hot tub, backyard, beach access|
Best Areas in Eureka
- Best area for first-timers/tourists – Old Town Eureka
- Best area for seeing the rest of Southern Humboldt County – Western Eureka
- Best area for seeing the rest of Northern Humboldt County – Arcata
- Best area for a beach vacation – Samoa
Where to Stay in Eureka, California
1. Old Town Eureka: Best for First-Timers/Tourists
The most obvious place to stay in Eureka, California is the Old Town, also referred to as downtown Eureka. On the map, you’ll find this part of the city on the northern shore, along Humboldt Bay. It’s where most of the dining, shopping, and most of the city’s top attractions are found, along with the majority of Eureka’s hotels.
Therefore, stay here if you want to be within walking distance of everything. The Carson Mansion is in the eastern part of the old town and is one of its top attractions. It belonged to William Carson, a lumber baron who built it in the 1800s after making a fortune from harvesting the region’s massive trees.
It has been described as America’s most grand Victorian mansion, with beautiful Queen Anne revival-style architecture. Today, it’s a private club, but you can still see its beauty from the outside. You can learn even more about Humboldt County’s past in the Clarke Historical Museum, which occupies a historic bank building in the town center.
It’s just a few blocks from the Lost Coast Brewery & Café, a top place in town to get local beers and a delicious meal. And while it’s not in Old Town Eureka, don’t miss the famous Sequoia Park Zoo, as it’s literally just a few minutes away by car or Uber.
While it’s not the biggest zoo in California, you can still see pandas, flamingos, bald eagles, and more wildlife here – but the highlight has to be the famous Redwood Sky Walk, a quarter-mile-long suspension bridge 100 feet above the ground through a redwood forest.
As you can see, there’s a ton to do in downtown Eureka. To summarize, plus add more, these are the highlights:
- Photograph and admire the Carson Mansion
- Tour the Clarke Historical Museum
- Drink and dine at the Lost Coast Brewery & Café
- View the animals at Sequoia Park Zoo & traverse its Redwood Sky Walk
- Admire the art and beauty around the old town and waterfront; also possible via a guided tour
- Take the kids to the Redwood Discovery Museum
- Hop on a short harbor cruise to catch views from the water
It’s easy to see why many tourists make the Old Town their spot during their stay. There are many hotel options to choose from here, so we’ll list several for each budget to show the best options. Each of these has free Wi-Fi and parking, while a few even have perks like free breakfast or an indoor pool to go with the good location.
Best Budget Hotels in Eureka
- Super 8 by Wyndham Eureka
- Days Inn by Wyndham Eureka
- Travelodge by Wyndham Eureka
- Eureka Town House Motel
Best Mid-Range Hotels in Eureka
Best Luxury Hotels in Eureka
See Related: Best Things to Do in Fort Bragg, California
2. Western Eureka: Best for Seeing the Rest of Southern Humboldt County
Eureka is rather residential outside of the old town, with the exception of a few more hotels in the western part of the city, right along Highway 101. Depending on how far south you stay, some of this area is within walking distance of the previously mentioned attractions. Otherwise, downtown isn’t more than a few minutes away via car or bus.
Plus, this part of Eureka has some of its own things to do and see. The Bayshore Mall is a large shopping center with big box retailers and additional places to eat and drink.
Across the street from that is Fort Humboldt State Historic Park, which was once a military base where Ulysses S. Grant served and now features a logging museum and great views. The Eureka Waterfront Trail runs the whole length of the bay’s shore and provides a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air with sea views.
At its northern end, you can watch the fishermen reeling in their lines at Del Norte Pier or take your pet for some fetch at the adjoining dog park. Besides all this, the hotels in this area provide easy access to Highway 101.
For those who want to explore further into Humboldt County by car, you can be on the road in a matter of minutes. Head to places like Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Humboldt Botanical Gardens.
In summary, here is what you can enjoy conveniently from hotels in Western Eureka:
- Shopping and dining at Bayshore Mall
- Walking, picnicking, and history at Humboldt State Historic Park
- Strolling or jogging on the Eureka Waterfront Trail
- Fishing or views from the Del Norte Pier
- Fun with furry friends at Del Norte Dog Park
- Easy access to the highway to reach other Humboldt County attractions: Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Humboldt Botanical Gardens, and more
- Just a few minutes from the above-mentioned attractions of central Eureka
There are just a few hotels in this part of Eureka, and you won’t find anything super luxurious here. But the options are still more than acceptable for those who like the idea of a quieter escape.
Here are the best options:
- Best Budget Hotel in Western Eureka: Motel 6 Eureka CA – Redwood Coast
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Western Eureka: Best Western Plus Bayshore Inn
- Another Great Mid-Range Option: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Eureka
See Related: Best Things to Do in Mendocino, California
3. Arcata: Best for Seeing the Rest of Northern Humboldt County
Across the bay from Eureka is another medium-sized town called Arcata. It’s a bit smaller and quieter but has its own couple of eateries, attractions, and hotels. Plus, it’s a great base to explore northern Humboldt Country, as there’s plenty more to see in this part of California.
Arcata is home to Humboldt State University, which sits just northeast of its quaint downtown area. Just next to the campus is Redwood Park, a place to picnic among the giant trees and its adjacent Arcata Community Forest. Both are crossed by several hiking trails across creeks, hilltops, and valleys.
Visitors can enjoy some of Arcata’s local history at Phillips House Museum, which preserves a 1800s farmhouse listed on our nation’s National Register of Historic Places. On the shores of the bay, marshy wetlands offer an educational center about this ecosystem, a bird sanctuary, and a bike trail that goes all the way to Eureka.
From Arcata, it’s a quick drive over to Humboldt Beach and the giant dunes that surround it. Just a bit further north is Redwoods National and State Parks, which should be a do-not-miss for anyone who loves nature. The miles and miles of massive redwood trees along pristine coastal mountains are simply breathtaking.
While not as busy as Eureka, Arcata has plenty of its own advantages and attractions to offer. In summary, here is what you can do in Arcata:
- Look around the Humboldt State University campus
- Hike around Redwood Park or Arcata Community Forest
- Learn local history at Phillips House Museum
- Explore the marshlands of the Arcata Bay coast
- Visit Humboldt State Beach and its giant dunes
- Take a ride to Redwoods National and State Parks for giant-tree hiking, scenic driving, and more
- Stop at Humboldt Lagoons State Park for more wildlife and wetlands, plus plenty of beaches along the way
It’s barely a 15-minute drive from Arcata to Eureka, so this is definitely an option for accommodation if it fits your needs. Here are some of the best places to stay in Arcata:
- Best Budget Hotel in Arcata: Super 8 by Wyndham Arcata
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Arcata: The Front Porch Hidden Oasis
- Best Vacation Rental in Arcata: This Pet-friendly two-bedroom, one-bathroom Home
4. Samoa: Best for a beach vacation
No, not the tropical sandy beaches of the South Pacific islands of Samoa. The sandy peninsula that forms the other side of Humboldt Bay is also called Samoa, and it’s just a few miles over a bridge from the old town.
That’s not to say that this Samoa doesn’t have its own great beaches, though. That’s why we’ve classified it as such for anyone who wants to add some NoCal beach time to their summer vacation. The shore here is long and wide, leaving plenty of space to play in the sand and waves.
Speaking of the waves, they can be quite consistent here, so swimmers may want to stay out, as there aren’t any lifeguards here. Surfers, on the other hand, can catch some really great waves when conditions are just right. You’ll probably see some locals bringing their 4x4s right onto the sand, as this beach is pretty wild and empty, and it’s a great place to watch the sunset over the water from a truck bed.
You can also dine at the Samoa Cookhouse, a famous and historic restaurant from 1890 that happens to be the last lumber camp-style cookhouse in the Pacific Northwest. If you’ve never heard of that style (which I sure hadn’t), it means meals are served family-style at long communal tables. There’s also a little logging museum inside.
In summary, here’s what you can do on the Samoa Peninsula:
- Lounge on the long and sandy Samoa Beach
- Catch some waves when the surf is up
- Watch the sunset over the water
- Dine at the historic Samoa Cookhouse and check out its logging museum
- Eat, drink, or have a spa day at the Humboldt Bay Social Club
- Cross the bridge and enjoy all the activities and attractions of Eureka
There is not a ton of accommodation inventory in Samoa – so if you’re interested in staying here, it’s better to book sooner rather than later. Options are mostly vacation rentals and include the following:
- Best Budget Vacation Rental on the Samoa Peninsula: Serenity by the Sea with two bedrooms and one bathroom
- Best Mid-Range Vacation Rental on the Samoa Peninsula: Fairhaven Retreat with two bedrooms and two bathrooms
- Best Boutique Hotel on the Samoa Peninsula: Humboldt Bay Social Club
What budget-friendly accommodations are available in Eureka?
Most budget travelers are pleasantly surprised with prices in Eureka, which is much less costly to visit than the rest of California. Some of the top cheap hotels include the Super 8 by Wyndham Eureka and the Days Inn by Wyndham Eureka, both Wyndhams conveniently located in Old Town with perfectly comfortable rooms.
Are there any luxury hotels in Eureka?
You are not going to find a Four Seasons in Eureka or even a Marriott. So, depending on your definition of luxury, there may not be a hotel here that fits it. Nonetheless, there are some very upscale and highly-rated hotels that go beyond the Holiday Inn Express experience – take a look at the Carter House Inns & Restaurant, which is in a collection of 5 historic Victorian mansions outfitted with top-quality amenities.
What are the top tourist attractions in Eureka?
Eureka is famous for the Carson Mansion, which is now a private club but still fantastic for photography from the outside, as it’s considered the premier example of Queen Anne-revival Victorian-era architecture in America. The Sequoia Park Zoo is also famous, as you can find both exotic animals and massive redwood trees here. Don’t forget to simply wander the streets of Old Town Eureka and enjoy the dining, drinking, and shopping.
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- About the Author
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Woodrow is a travel writer who wants to do and see just about everything. He’s been to 40+ countries, all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico and the USVI, and is currently living in France and exploring Europe. Woodrow is an expert in travel hacking, finding bargain flights, and coined the term “upgrade engineering” referring to his talent to upgrade simple hotel room bookings into suite stays. Woodrow loves SCUBA diving, fishing, and all things aviation.