Crescent City, CA (CEC)

Out on the tiny island of Battery Park, accessible only by foot and even then only at low tide, sits the oldest lighthouse in California. Built in 1856 it still shines today at the western tip of Crescent City, California. Nestled just 20 miles from the Oregon border, the vast amount of unspoiled land in and around the community opens up a wild world of possibilities.

There is a first-rate marina at Crescent City Harbor flanked by a few miles of sandy beach where the sea lions come to sun themselves. All of which is hemmed in forests of massive sequoias and old growth redwoods that are watered with creeks and rivers that empty out into the Pacific. And it is this that makes Crescent City paradise for anyone trekking into the untouched wild of either sea or wood.

Home to the Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast and Prairie Creek State Parks, the gorgeous landscape supports some of the finest outdoor activities in the country, from some of the country’s best bird watching, as well as more rugged outdoor adventures among the ancient redwoods like whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, camping and fishing. You can pitch your own tent, or rent a rustic fishing cabin to be ready to slap the water with a line at first light.

Beyond the forest, beyond even the lighthouse at Battery Park, there is a different kind of adventure that beckons – available through jet boat tours, deep sea fishing charters and whale watching.

For those who like to retreat to the comfort of a hot bath and warm bed after a day of outdoor adventure, Crescent City sports bed & breakfasts, like the Scopa at the Sea, as well as modern hotels. Dine on the ocean front at the Chart Room Restaurant or find your own seafood fresh from the Pacific Northwest waters and Crescent City Crab Shack.

Even those of us who are seeking out the majesty of nature appreciate a little something in town. There is a footloose and creative local population in Crescent City with a lively scene in downtown (the smart money is that it is more quaint than yours) that boasts art galleries, antique shops, local craft beer, and specialty food shops ranging from local cheeses to smoked salmon. And of course, all the adventure outfitters that you’d ever need to fully experience all that this beautiful expanse has to offer.