Weekender: Eureka, Calif.

A historic port town on the Northern California coast offers redwood forests, abundant wildlife, and hearty fare.

Eagle House, Eureka, Calif., image

The Eagle House at the corner of Second and C Streets in Eureka, Calif., was built in the late 1880s.

Carson Mansion, Eureka, Calif., image

Eureka's Carson Mansion, now a private club, was built for lumber baron William Carson.

The past is always present in this vibrant Northern California seaport, famed for teeming fisheries and towering redwood forests. Hundreds of ornate Victorians hark back to the lumber trade that boomed in the 1850s. Today, Eureka draws travelers with a mix of dining, shopping, and outdoor diversions. Area code is 707.

  • A self-guided walking tour of the historic Old Town district brings you face-to-face with dozens of grand Victorian and Queen Anne buildings—such as the Eagle House—many of them open to visitors. The renowned, castle-like Carson Mansion is closed to the public, but well worth ogling from the outside. eurekaheritage.org.
  • Spy on egrets, cormorants, and harbor seals as you bike or stroll on the Hikshari’ Trail, a 1.5-mile paved path through the Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary. The Redwood Region Audubon Society offers guided bird walks. redwoods.info.
  • Fill up like a lumberjack at the Samoa Cookhouse, the last logging camp–style dining hall in the West. Think pancakes, roast pork, and other hearty fare served in all-you-can-eat portions on long tables covered in red-checked cloths. The Cookhouse and Logging Relics area displays artifacts that helped account for the healthy appetites of bygone days. 908 Vance Ave., 442-1659, samoacookhouse.net.
  • Shaded by an ancient redwood grove, the Sequoia Park Zoo—the oldest zoo in California—is home to white-handed gibbons, alpacas, peccaries, and more. The newest residents will be salmon, otters, and bald eagles in an exhibit opening by the end of summer. 3414 W St., 441-4263, sequoiaparkzoo.net.
  • At once old-fashioned and new-fangled, Living the Dream Ice Cream scoops a rainbow of flavors, including maple bacon and chocolate lavender. 1 F St., 407-3508, ltdicecream.com.
  • Slurp fresh oysters and sample local wines and beers at the Humboldt Bay Tourism Center, a traveler’s resource that doubles as a raw bar and tasting room. 205 G St., 672-3850, humboldtbaytourismcenter.com.
  • The eclectic assortment of antiquarian books, maps, photos, and ephemera at Eureka Books thrills spontaneous browsers and serious collectors alike. 426 Second St., 444-9593, eurekabooksellers.com.

Photography by David H. Collier (Eagle House); courtesy of Cory Maylett/Wikimedia Commons (Carson Mansion)

This article was first published in July 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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