Crescent City is a hidden little coastal town in far northern California, so far north that it’s only about 10 minutes from the Oregon border. While its a smaller town with a population of about 7,000 it’s rich in beautiful places to see.
There have been a handful of movies filmed in the area through the years including; ET (1982), Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983), Not a Moment Too Soon – Tim McGraw’s music video (1994), and most recently, Bird Box staring Sandra Bullock (2018).
Often referred to as “where redwoods meet the sea” because one side of the town borders the Pacific Ocean and the other borders the Redwoods National Park. There is plenty to see and do in this small little town.
We took a trip to Crescent City this last Thanksgiving and it was so much fun. Here is our list of the top 15 things to do in Crescent City, CA.
#1 Get a better view from Crescent Beach Outlook
Located right outside Crescent City and only a short drive up a hill you will arrive at a small parking area. The walk to the viewing area is paved and a very easy path that only takes a couple minutes. The path ends on decked outlook where there is an endless view of the ocean and the coastline of the city.
Some days the view is better than others. When it’s foggy it can be hard to see much. Often times the fog burns off by the afternoon. You will not be disappointed to visit the outlook on a clear day. Here is more information about the overlook and directions if you want to go see it for yourself.
#2 Enjoy South Beach – A favorite spot for locals and visitors
Located just south of Crescent City harbor along highway 101 south beach is a large stretch of flat beach that is a local favorite. When conditions are right you will see surfers and paddle boarders out on the waves. You can even rent some paddle boards or surfboards and try surfing yourself. Take a walk on the beach and you will most likely find sand dollars, sea shells and lots of drift wood.
You can park right along 101 to access the beach or you can park in the harbor area and walk down. It is a popular spot for playing in the sand and enjoying the day. Most days there will be people having bonfires and enjoying the beach. A perfect place for taking pictures and relaxing because the views of the ocean are amazing. You will not be disappointed.
#3 Explore the Crescent City Harbor
Right next to south beach you wont want to miss out on all the Crescent City harbor area has to offer. You will find restaurants, boats, and gift shops.
There is even a little restaurant called The Chart Room that is right on the harbor. You can enjoy your food and watch the sea lions right from the table side windows. The harbor is full of sea gulls and sea lions.
If you are driving through the harbor make sure you drive around the boat dock area. You can see all the private and commercial fishing boats. You can even walk right down to the boats to get an up close look. There is even a distant view of the lighthouse. There is also a paved walking trail that winds through the harbor and along the beaches.
#4 Take a Tour at Ocean World
This is a must stop if you have never been before. Ocean World is fun for the whole family. They offer guided tours that take about 45 minutes, where you can play in a tide pool, see the aquarium, pet a real life shark, and see a super cute sea lion show at the end of the tour. It is a fun adventure and there are some cute photo opportunity spots along the way.
If you don’t have time to take the tour its worth it to visit Ocean World just for the gift shop. They have a huge gift shop area that even includes a large section with shirts and sweatshirts. Here is a link to their website for more information about tour times and prices https://oceanworldonline.com
#5 Don’t miss out on Beach Front Park
Beach Front park is a large park area over near the pier and lighthouse. The park is right on the ocean and is the perfect spot to spend a few hours. In the park you will find the visitor center, an indoor swimming pool, a park area for kids, picnic benches disk golf, a dog park, and the marine mammal center. It also offers a beautiful view of the ocean.
#6 Walk to the end of B Street Pier
A walk down the B street pier offers some of the best views of the lighthouse. You can even crab off the pier, you will see people with crab pots along the walk. There is no where to sit but it’s not a very long walk to the end and back.
It’s fun to see people catching crab and experience the views of the ocean right beneath you. Make sure you bring a jacket because it can get really windy out there.
#7 Walk to Battery Point Light House
It’s so exciting to experience the light house just make sure that you check the tides and go when it’s low tide. When it’s high tide the water covers the rocky trail area that leads out to the light house so you cannot cross until it’s low tide.
Battery point light house offers guided tours where they explain the history and let you walk through the museum that is located in the light house. Just make sure you check out the times and days that the tours are offered before heading out.
This is the site that they filmed Tim McGraws 1994 music video – Not a Moment too soon. It’s fun to watch since you can clearly see the lighthouse and beach in the video.
#8 Let your dog Play at the Dog Park
Also located in Front Street Park, you will find “Dog Town” a fenced in dog park area is perfect for your dog to get off the leash and burn some energy. It is a clean little park that is located right next the the beach and also across the street from Sea Quake, a popular brewery and pizza spot.
#10 Visit the Marine Mammal Center
Another great place to check out if you are down near Beachfront Park. The Marine Mammal center rescues injured marine wildlife and takes cares for them until they can release them back into the wild. There are some informational signs around the building and a fenced in area where they house wildlife while they are caring for them. Often times you can see little sea pups right through the fence so its fun to stop by and check them out.
#11 Check out Brother Jonathan Park
Brother Jonathan park is a fenced in park for kids on one side and on the other has a memorial area to remember the 244 passengers that perished in the Brother Jonathan shipwreck off the Crescent City coast in 1865. The outlook area is a great place to watch the sunset and offers some great views of the ocean.
#12 Hunt for agates and explore the tide pools on Pebble Beach
Even if you don’t have time to stop make sure you drive down Pebble Beach. This area of the ocean is a more rocky area but is one of the best drive by areas and offers some beautiful views of the ocean. I loved going at sunset as there is always such pretty colors in the sky.
If you have the time and its low tide you can go down the stairs to hunt for agates and view the tide pools below. Also, keep an eye out for whales in the horizon as you can see them in the distance when its migrating time.
#13 See the tall trees at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
You can’t leave Crescent City without seeing the Redwoods. Just a short drive about 10 minutes and you will be right in the middle of some of the tallest redwoods in the world located in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Amazing photo opportunities and there are tons of little trails to explore that wind right through the redwoods.
#14 Drive through Stout Grove
If you have some extra time drive through stout grove. It is an old road that goes right through the redwood forest. It offers some of the most beautiful views from the inside of the forest. It ends at the Smith River where there is a camping area and swimming spots.
#15 Hike the Boy Scot Tree Trail
Wanting to get out and do some hiking. The Boy Scout Tree Trail is a bit over 2 miles and you will be walking through the huge ancient redwoods the entire time. While right outside Crescent City you will feel like you are worlds away as you can’t hear or see the City. You are just surrounded by the redwoods.
Have you ever been to Crescent City? If you haven’t it is worth the trip. They also have an amazing display of fireworks over the lighthouse every 4th of July if you are looking for somewhere to spend the holiday. Just make sure you book reservations early because the hotels fill up fast. I hope that this list of things to do in Crescent City Ca helps you to plan your trip and enjoy your time in this northern California beach town.