Eight Captivating Cultural Districts in California

Activities, Magazine Features

Enjoy some culture while being immersed in picturesque surroundings

California has a rich cultural history with 14 state-designated cultural districts established in 2017. Here are eight districts that highlight the creativity and beauty of California culture.

Eureka Cultural Arts District

This arts scene will have people exclaiming, “Eureka!” Amid the magnificent redwood curtain lies the Eureka Cultural Arts District. The district features a vibrant arts scene and a charming old town area that features late Victorian and Greek revival architecture styles. Art galleries, street art, live music and dance keep tourists busy for the day. Visitors can view the cafes, breweries, galleries and museums on foot or bike. First Saturday Night Arts Alive! – a fun art walk – takes place each month. The event includes remarkable art, music, dining and shopping in Downtown and Old Town Eureka, where more than 75 businesses participate in the walk.

Redding Cultural District

Surrounded by the Trinity Alps, Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen mountains and residing next to the Sacramento River, the Redding cultural district’s most alluring draw is mother nature. Visitors can explore the Turtle Bay Exploration Park which exhibits a museum, botanical gardens, and an animal sanctuary.

Sundial Bridge is a must – the iconic glass art walkway is one of the biggest working sundials in the world. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava in 2004, the bridge reaches across the picturesque Sacramento River. Another notable landmark, the Cascade Theatre, features a variety of live concerts, plays, and dance recitals. The district offers over 50 eateries and bars presenting an array of culinary delights.

Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District 

Postcard perfect small towns, Grass Valley and Nevada City share a cultural district, known for its history in goldmining, and its current wineries, tasting rooms and vineyards. The art scene includes several events, festivals and street fairs throughout the year. While there are thousands of events, the most highly rated one would be the California WorldFest, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival which showcases environmentally themed documentaries.

The area boasts two delightful old towns which highlight the Native American culture that existed before the mining populations existed in the area. The old towns include museums and historical sites as well as beautiful outdoor hiking trails. Perfect for a weekend away, this district will take you on a ride through West Coast culture.

Rotten City-Emeryville Photo by Ken Osborn Artist Cindy Elia screen prints at the 15-year anniversary and grand opening of the new location

Rotten City-Emeryville Photo by Ken Osborn Artist Cindy Elia screen prints at the 15-year anniversary and grand opening of the new location

Rotten city-Emeryville Cultural Arts District 

Sun-soaked Emeryville, nestled in the Bay Area, is home to the Pixar Animation Studios and beloved Peet’s Coffee & Tea and holds some of California’s best modern art. From animation and digital mapping composition to murals, the city is a hotspot for diverse contemporary creations.

The annual Emeryville Celebration of the Arts features a month-long exhibition of carefully selected local artwork. The city’s hard work to promote creative representation of its cultural history is seen in numerous pieces at this showcase. After experiencing the medley of modern art grab a slice of Rotten City Pizza as you absorb the avant-garde artwork.

Truckee Cultural District 

This ruggedly beautiful mountain setting attracts residents and visitors with an alpine allure. Located in the High Sierra Mountain range, the historic area provides a window into the culture through outdoor adventure. The district’s newest feature provides hands-on art experiences through a 3,000-square-foot “makerspace” where creators can learn, experiment, build and practice all types of techniques. For those who prefer to admire, the district has an assortment of outdoor installations and numerous indoor galleries. Truckee’s art scene is adored for its historic buildings like the Old Jail Museum, railroad museum and Pioneer Monument.

The Calle 24 Latino Cultural District 

Bustling with shopping, dining and arts, this San Francisco hub is home to a diverse community of Latinx businesses which have contributed largely to the area’s political and cultural sphere. The tree lined enclave of The Calle 24 Latino Cultural District is sprinkled with colorful street art and the city’s largest collection of murals. People are most familiar with their Carnaval event, the Cesar Chavez Parade and Festival and Day of the Dead celebration.

The district’s mission is to preserve and enhance Latino culture. The vibrant walk among stores adorned with murals invites visitors to envelop themselves in the rich experiences the city has to offer. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover or looking for a unique escapade, the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District is a must-visit stop in San Francisco.

SOMA 2 by Nix Guirre The SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Heritage District is a celebration of the love, pride and people power of generations

SOMA 2 by Nix Guirre The SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Heritage District is a celebration of the love, pride and people power of generations

SOMA Pilipinas, Filipino Cultural Heritage District 

Not far from Calle 24 is San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District. This mile and a half neighborhood is one of the few districts in the United States specifically designated as a cultural heritage district for Filipino-Americans. It is a cultural immersion with traditional options like adobo or lumpia and creative dishes incorporating international piquancies. The district is famous for hosting the Parol Lantern Festival, a celebration of Filipino Christmas traditions each December. The Parol lantern serves as a symbol of hope, peace and luck. The lively ambiance of the fun-filled cultural festival is an awe-inducing experience and opportunity that all should take.

Downtown San Rafael Arts District 

Eclectic and engaging, the San Rafael Art’s district found in the heart of Marin County features inclusive activities for all ages. The Art Works Downtown holds four galleries where art enthusiasts can watch the creators at work. The personal art walk allows for admirers to explore the historic building and speak to the artists themselves, providing firsthand learning adventure. Through art and expression, residents and visitors alike can engage in education and conversation on social issues like multiculturalism and affordable housing. This district connects people through thought provoking art, food, film and entertainment – an unforgettably exciting encounter.

By Aria Wozniak

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