Explore Crescent City Harbor And Whaler Island

Bourn Family At The Crescent City Harbor

Our family, used to weekend getaways, day trips, and travel has been going a bit stir-crazy stuck at home, as I’m sure your family has! We only have a handful of summers left with our kiddos as they grow up and get ready for college and life beyond, so we didn’t want to skip our summer travels… but we also knew we needed to be smart about how we traveled.

So we planned a road trip into Oregon and rented a vacation house in Gold Beach. Our plan was to interact with as few people as possible, which wasn’t very difficult because nearly everything was completely shut down and boarded up. And what you don’t realize is that also means gas stations, stores, and restaurants are closed so there is nowhere to stop to use the restroom on a road trip! Fun times!

While we’ve done this drive before, we still hadn’t seen all the sights around Crescent City, which sits just 20 miles south of the Oregon border, so we split our drive into two parts and spent a little time there. Again, pretty much everything was closed — it was a ghost town but that meant we could walk the harbor docks unencumbered, watch the seals and sea lions undisturbed, and just enjoy the ocean.

Exploring Crescent City Harbor

Crescent City Harbor, California’s northern-most port, was originally established to serve as a shipping and trade center during the California Gold Rush. Its strategic location on the northern California coast made it an essential stop for ships traveling between San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest.

Over the years, the harbor has weathered many challenges, including devastating tsunamis like the 1964 Good Friday earthquake tsunami which caused extensive damage to the area. Despite these challenges, the harbor has been rebuilt and modernized, maintaining its status as a crucial hub for the local fishing industry and maritime activities.

Crescent City Harbor plays a vital role in the local economy, supporting its commercial fishing industry and tourism and recreational activities. In the harbor, you’ll see numerous commercial fishing vessels that bring in Dungeness crab, salmon, and groundfish, as well as facilities for recreational boating and sport fishing. The harbor also has full-service restaurants, hotels, a marine supply store, and an art gallery. And, if you want to buy crab, tuna fish or oysters fresh off the boats, you can do that too!

During low tide, you can also hike out to rugged, rocky Whaler Island, which gets its name from the historical whaling activities that took place in the area during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Tide pools at Whaler Island are home to numerous marine creatures like starfish, anemones, and crabs, and it’s common to seals, sea lions, and a variety of seabirds on the island.

Crescent City Beach

Our visit to Crescent City, the largest city on the redwood coast, was over the 4th of July holiday. We’ve traveled quite a bit over the 4th of July week and missed out on fireworks, so we didn’t think much about it… until fireworks started going off at 5:00 pm. And kept going off non-stop until past midnight.

We were shocked to be treated to a nearly 180 degree, panoramic view of fireworks shooting into the sky! Apparently, during “normal times,” Crescent City is renowned for its spectacular 4th of July celebrations, which draw thousands of people from across Northern California.

Typical festivities include:

  • A festive parade through the town featuring floats, bands, and community groups.
  • A day-long festival with food vendors, live music, games, and family-friendly activities at Beachfront Park.
  • A stunning fireworks display over the harbor.

While all of that pomp and circumstance didn’t happen this year, people still came out in droves to celebrate along Crescent Beach, the harbor, and all the other little beaches that line the coast around Crescent City. It was neat to see little groups of people and families keeping their traditions alive and still celebrating. Big thanks to all those who bought and shot off fireworks for all to enjoy!

Things To Do In And Near Crescent City

Crescent City Harbor District is located at 101 Citizens Dock Road, Crescent City, California 95531, in Del Norte County. Next to the harbor, you’ll find Beachfront Park, a large open grass park and playground between Front Street and Howe Drive that has a protected, narrow, family-friendly beach and disc golf course. The parking lot is near the mouth of Elk Creek and at low tide the Elk Creek mud flats get exposed.

If you haven’t visited Crescent City, we recommend it!

It’s a sleepy beach town with a delightful mix of history, natural beauty, and maritime activities. Whether you want to relax on the beach, explore the majestic redwoods, or do a little fishing, you’ll have a great time. Some of our favorite things to do include:

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