Eureka

With a population of 27,000, Eureka is the North Coast's largest city, a good place to fuel up, buy groceries, and learn a little about the region's mining, timber, and fishing pasts. The chamber of commerce visitor center has maps of self-guided driving tours of the town's nearly 100 Victorians, among them the flamboyant 1886 Queen Anne–style Carson Mansion, at 143 M Street. The home can only be viewed from outside, but it's worth a look and a photo or two. Art galleries and antiques stores liven up the district from C to I street between 2nd and 3rd streets, and a walking pier extends into the harbor.

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