10 Best & Fun Things to Do in Crescent City (California)

Crescent City is a beautiful coastal town in Northern California. It’s known for its redwood forests, clear rivers and streams, and rocky coastline. These picturesque surroundings make this city a great place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. I had a one-week vacation here, and I was able to experience a lot of what the city has to offer. So here is a list of the 10 Best Things to Do in Crescent City.

Things to Do in Crescent City, California

1. Visit the Battery Point Lighthouse

Best & Fun Things to Do in Crescent City (California)

One of the most popular attractions in Crescent City is the Battery Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located on an island just offshore, and you can only reach it during low tide. I highly recommend checking the tides before you go, as you don’t want to get stranded on the island!

The lighthouse was built in 1856 and is still operational today. It’s open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm, and I highly recommend taking a tour if you’re interested in learning about its history. The best part about the tour is that you get to go inside the lighthouse and climb to the top for an incredible 360-degree view of the harbor.

If you’re not interested in taking a tour, you can still walk around the island and enjoy the view from the outside. It’s a peaceful place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Just be sure to watch your step, as there are plenty of rocks.

No matter how you choose to experience it, the Battery Point Lighthouse is a must-see when you’re in Crescent City. So be sure to add it to your list of things to do!

2. Tour Del Norte County History Museum

If you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely want to add the Del Norte County History Museum to your list of top things to do in Crescent City. The museum is located in the former County Jail portion of its historic building, which has been open to the public since 1963.

The museum itself is small, but it’s packed full of interesting exhibits. I particularly enjoyed the exhibit on the history of the county jail, which was fascinating. I also enjoyed the exhibit on the local indigenous tribes, as it gave me a better understanding of their culture and history.

Other exhibits include a look at the area’s logging industry, as well as its role in the Gold Rush. There’s also an exhibit on the local fishing industry, which is a big part of Crescent City’s history.

Even if you’re not a history buff, I think the Del Norte County History Museum is worth a visit. It’s a great way to learn about the city and its rich history. And even if you don’t have time to tour the entire museum, it’s still worth stopping by to see the beautiful building that houses it.

3. Tour the Crescent City Harbor District

The moment I stepped into the Crescent City harbor district, I knew that this place was special. There’s a certain charm to it that you can’t find in many other places. Although the 2011 tsunami damaged much of the area, it has since been rebuilt and is now better than ever.

I started my tour at the Inner Boat Basin, which is home to many different types of vessels, from small fishing boats to large yachts. You can also find the charter boats here that offer tours of the harbor. I highly recommend taking one of these tours, as it’s the best way to see all the different sights in the harbor district. I personally didn’t have the interest, but I know many people will love it.

After admiring the boats, I walked along the boardwalk to check out the shops and restaurants. There are plenty of places to eat in the harbor district, so you’ll never go hungry. I even found a couple of souvenir shops where I bought some gifts for my friends back home.

I ended my tour at Crescent City Farmers Market, which is the perfect place to get fresh produce and other local goods. The market is open every Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm, so be sure to check it out if you’re in town on the weekend.

Note that there are a few different ways to tour the harbor. You can take a guided tour, or you can explore on your own. I recommend taking a guided tour if you’re interested in learning about the history of the harbor and the different businesses that call it home. If you’re looking to explore on your own, I recommend getting a map from the visitor center so you can better navigate the area.

All in all, the harbor district is a beautiful place to take a stroll. You can smell the ocean in the air and feel the cool breeze blowing through. It’s the perfect place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of this city.

4. Take the Tsunami Walking Tour

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I signed up for the Tsunami Walking Tour. I knew that Crescent City had been hit by a tsunami in 2011, but I didn’t know much about the damage it caused or the recovery process. But I’m glad I took the tour, as it was very enlightening.

The tour started at the tsunami memorial, which is located at the site of the old fishing pier. This is where many people lost their lives during the tsunami, and it’s a somber place to start the tour. From there, we walked to various other locations around the harbor district that were affected by the tsunami. We saw the boatyard where many of the boats were damaged, as well as the boardwalk, which was completely destroyed.

But perhaps the most impactful part of the tour was hearing from some of the local residents who were affected by the tsunami. They shared their stories of what happened that day and how they’ve been able to rebuild their lives. It was really eye-opening to see how resilient these people are and how they’ve been able to move on from such a devastating event.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 2011 tsunami and its effects, I highly recommend adding this tour to your list of the best things to do in Crescent City. It’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective and to gain a better understanding of what happened.

5. Hike the Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park

Best & Fun Things to Do in Crescent City (California)

Crescent City is home to some of the tallest trees in the world, and there’s no better place to see them than Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park. This state park is home to some of the tallest redwoods in the world, and it’s a truly breathtaking sight.

There are plenty of trails to hike in the park, so you can find one that’s suitable for your fitness level. I personally enjoyed the Jedidiah Smith River Trail, which is an easy trail that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the park. But if you’re looking for a challenge, there are also longer trails that will test your endurance. I suggest checking out the trail maps at the visitor center so you can find a route that’s right for you.

In addition to hiking, the parks offer many other activities such as biking, horseback riding, and camping. There’s also a variety of different ranger-led programs available, so be sure to ask about them at the visitor center.

6. Explore Crescent Beach 

Of course, I can’t talk about the top things to do in Crescent City without including the beach. This is one of the most popular attractions in the city, located just south of the harbor district. 

There are plenty of things to do at the beach, such as swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and kayaking. Driftwoods line the shore, providing a nice place to sit and relax. There’s also a walking trail that runs along the coast, which is a great way to take in the scenery. And if you’re looking for a place to eat, there are plenty of food options nearby.

In addition, dogs are also allowed on the beach. Just be sure to keep them on a leash and clean up after them. I only saw a few dogs while I was there, but it’s always nice to know that they’re welcome.

Overall, spending a day at Crescent Beach is a must-do while in town. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beautiful California coast.

7. Tour the Ocean World Aquarium

If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity to do in Crescent City, I highly recommend touring the Ocean World Aquarium. This is one of the top attractions in the city, and it’s a great place to learn about the different marine life that can be found off the coast of California.

The Ocean World Aquarium is home to a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles. And in addition to the main aquarium, there’s also a touch tank where you can get up close and personal with some of the animals. And if that’s not enough, all tours include viewing the performance of the aquarium’s trained seals and sea lions.

This aquarium also offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the aquarium cares for its animals. We got to see the kitchen where they prepare the food, as well as the vet room where they provide medical care. It was really interesting to see how much work goes into keeping these animals healthy and happy.

The Ocean World Aquarium is a great activity for both adults and children. And it’s one of the best things to do in Crescent City if you’re looking to learn more about the ocean and the animals that call it home.

8. Visit the Brother Jonathan Cemetery

Crescent City is home to the Brother Jonathan cemetery, which is the final resting place for many of the victims of the 1865 shipwreck of Brother Jonathan. The shipwreck was one of the deadliest in California history, and it left a lasting impact on the city.

Today, the cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. Twenty-two headstones mark the graves of Brother Jonathan’s victims, and there is also a memorial plaque dedicated to them. If you’re interested in learning more about the Brother Jonathan shipwreck, you can visit the Del Norte County Historical Society, which has a small exhibit on the disaster.

The Brother Jonathan cemetery is a must-see for any visitor to Crescent City. It’s a sobering reminder of the city’s history, but it’s also a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a few minutes. Just remember to be respectful when you visit, as this is a cemetery after all.

9. Crescent Trail Rides

There’s no better way to experience the beauty of Crescent City than by taking a horseback ride through its majestic redwoods and beachfront. And that’s exactly what you can do with Crescent Trail Rides.

Crescent Trail Rides offers a variety of different horseback riding tours, so there’s something for everyone. Lessons and tours are available for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced riders. And if you have your own horse, you’re welcome to bring it along.

I took the Sunset Beach Ride, which was absolutely beautiful. We rode our horses along the beach as the sun set over the ocean. Our guide was very professional and assisted us with horsemanship techniques when needed. I felt safe and comfortable the entire time, even though I’m not an experienced rider.

All in all, there’s nothing quite like horseback riding through the redwoods and along the beach. It’s an unforgettable experience that I highly recommend adding to your list of top things to do in Crescent City. I’m even considering taking another ride next time I’m in town.

10. Take a Scenic Drive Along Howland Hill Road

If you’re looking for a scenic drive, then look no further than Howland Hill Road. This winding road takes you through the heart of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The road is narrow in places, and there are plenty of turns, but it’s a great way to see the redwoods up close.

There are plenty of pull-offs along the road where you can stop and take in the scenery. Take your time and enjoy the drive, as it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Crescent City. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife. I saw a deer on the side of the road, and it was a really special moment.

If you have the time, I recommend taking the entire loop. It’s about 10 miles long, but it’s well worth it. And if you get tired, there are plenty of places to stop and take a break. Just be sure to bring your camera, as you’re sure to want to take plenty of photos.

In summary

There are plenty of great things to do in Crescent City, from learning about its history to taking in its natural beauty. These are just a few of the top things to do in this picturesque California city. So be sure to add these activities to your list.