Eureka among the tops

February 2011

Victorian Seaport among Dozen Distinctive Destinations

Eureka, CA -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) this month named Eureka, California, one of its 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. The city was selected for its rich Victorian-era heritage, a lively Old Town that has been bustling since the Gold Rush and a community dedicated to keeping a colorful past alive.

“Thanks to Eureka’s extraordinary commitment to its unique past, visitors can experience the rare treat of stepping back in time,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“This Victorian-era town offers the complete package for visitors – the beautiful bay, an active arts culture and an unrivaled array of historic sites, all of which paint a fascinating portrait of our 19th century American West.”

Eureka, which was nominated by the Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, is a "beautifully preserved Victorian-era town" on the coast in Northern California, according to the NTHP. Its Old Town is "one of the nation's best original Victorian-era commercial districts," and features the famous Carson Mansion -- one of the most photographed Victorian homes in America.

The town’s coastal location on Humboldt Bay and proximity to the redwood forests made it an ideal location for the 19th century fishing and timber industries, and visitors can still appreciate the active seaport at one of Eureka’s many restaurants dedicated to locally caught and grown cuisine.

Eureka highlights include:

  • The Samoa Cookhouse is the last surviving cookhouse of the West and has been serving meals since 1890. After dining like a lumberjack (“family style”), visitors can peruse the cookhouse’s Historic Logging Museum and gift shop full of relics and photos from bygone logging days.
  • The Blue Ox Millworks and historic park is a unique experience where visitors can view demonstrations of Victorian-era craftsmanship techniques.
  • For an authentic lodging experience, consider the Carter House Inns, the premier lodging on the North Coast located in Old Town and near the waterfront.
  • Eureka offers more than 50 festivals, including an Intertribal gathering of Native American tribes, a mushroom fair and the Kinetic Sculpture Race, which is the original triathlon of the art world.
  • Take a Humboldt Bay cruise on the Madaket, the last surviving ferry that transported mill workers and families to the bay. It is the oldest vessel in continuous service in the United States, boasts the smallest licensed bar in the state and is a California historic vessel.
  • Rent kayaks from Humboats just across the bay on Woodley Island. A wide array of bird species congregate in the bay. Paddle around Indian Island or along the water trails of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The Native American wing of the Clarke Historical Museum displays a collection of northern California Native American basketry, stoneware and regalia.

For 11 years the NTHP has selected communities across America each year that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from those found at the typical vacation destination.

From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and a commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.  

The other 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations are Alexandria, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Colorado Springs, CO; Dandridge, TN; Muskogee, OK; New Bedford, MA; Paducah, KY; San Angelo, TX; Saint Paul, MN; Sheridan, WY; and Sonoma, CA.

The Washington, D.C.-based NTHP ( is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them.