Arcata (California, USA)

Arcata in Northern California, USA, different from stereotype California. Enjoying the gentle atmosphere in town inheriting hippie culture.

This town is in the northern part in California. It is 450km north from San Francisco, 5 hours by car. It is 650km south from Portland, Oregon, 7 hours by car. It is inconvenient location. There is “Redwood” National Park near this town.

One reason to visit this town is, this is the place with Hippie culture. San Francisco, where hippie culture was born, must be the most famous place, however, San Francisco is crowded, difficult to have a rest. In addition, now, it is the area where working people in ”Silicon Valley” live, look like a symbol of stylish, but busy place. In the first place, real estate is extraordinary expensive, and it is very difficult to stay at hotel for a long time.

Hippie culture born in San Francisco, was headed to northern California, Oregon state, then its culture is inherited. One of its symbolic places is this “Arcata”. In this area, marijuana is penetrated to the normal life since this area of climate is fitted to marijuana growth, and this must be affected to the liberal nature of the people in this area.

On my first visit, accessing from the Portland, I could find hippie style people around the Crescent city, 100km north of the Arcata, then I could find an old couple along the road for hitch hiking with the signboard indicating “R.K.ta”.

There is a square called “Plaza” in the center location in Arcata. Shop, restaurant surrounding this Plaza, people are walking around. Plaza is picturesque with lawn and palm trees. This kind of square located in the center of town can be seen in Europe, but guessing this is rare in US. By the way, on my first visit of this town, while walking the plaza, one hippie like person standing on the street called me and said “Hello, Investor”.

There are good sense of restaurant, general store, clothing shop, bar, coffee shop, accessory shop, record/cd shop etc. When getting into shops, all people in the shop say “Hello” to me. It must be normal in the countryside, I can feel that it is natural, not awkward. The major part of the people I can see here is white, but I cannot feel a kind of prejudice. USA is accumulated and migrated by immigration culture, and this is still ongoing process, it can be said. This is under an experimental process, but hippie culture must be dedicated a lot to this process in the people’s mentality point of view.

There are few oriental people here, however, there are Japanese restaurant. I could find four Japanese restaurants in this Arcata at the time of my visit in 2019. I am wondering why there are four even if very few oriental people here, but I guess, it must have the tendency of healthy and oriental culture. When getting into one shop and talked with the person in a shop, she said to me “One Japanese is working in this shop, though she is not coming today”, and therefore, it is not at all.

There is a hotel, in the corner of “Plaza”, that is only one around the “Plaza” area. This is “Hotel Arcata” established more than 100 years ago. This is retro-type hotel and picturesque. Hotel lobby is like to be a film location in the retro movie, and feeling that it is nice to stay often, different from the wearisome motel. Receptionist in the hotel lobby wears an old stylish uniform, when I was seeing the old picture on the wall showing the famous people visited this hotel, he has joked to me “Are you looking for your own picture?” This kind of correspondence make me happy.

There is a Japanese restaurant called “Tomo” in thistel. On my first visit, I was very surprised that this restaurant was packed with the youngsters, but on my second visit, there were so many people, too. According to the person in this restaurant, this restaurant was opened approx. 30 years ago by Japanese owner in the different location, then moved to current location by succeeded by another owner. There is a list of Japanese “sake” on the menu. I found “Chicken-Katsu on the menu and ordered, it was good taste. It is a little interesting why business is going well at this restaurant, despite the limited number of restaurants in this town.

When sitting on the bench in the “Plaza”, I can find people with reading a book, eating on the lawn, playing with kid, playing a guitar etc. On my second visit in 2019, compared with my first visit in 2007, hippie style people are clearly decreased, however, I guess, people in this town still has a liberal hippie-mind on their own.

This location is recommended for the people, who would like to have a distance from the busy city culture, but dislike to be on the real nature, and would like to have some nice culture feeling. When going from between north and south in California and Oregon, just to drop by, may be enough, but recommend to stay one night with dinner in the restaurant in the “Plaza”. You can feel something different from the famous tourist place.

Visited in 2007 and 2019.

​Basic Information

​■ Name of Place : Arcata, California, USA
​■ Homepage :  Arcata, California, Official Website