Visit the 'SpongeBob Trail' in Humboldt County - NBC 7 San Diego
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Visit the 'SpongeBob Trail' in Humboldt County

Creator Stephen Hillenburg called the nature-packed, oh-so-quirky region home during his university days.

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    Ocean, redwoods, big sky: These were some of the sights that influenced the incredibly talented Stephen Hillenburg during his Humboldt County days. You can find places that have that sweet "SpongeBob" vibe on your next visit to the region.

    KNOW "SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS"? Then you know it is a timeless show, one that will be as watchable in a century as it was a decade ago, thanks in part to its creator's devotion to all-out quirk-a-tude, to gentle but sophisticated humor, and a love of nature, specifically the ocean. Know Humboldt County? Then you can understand how Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the hit Nickelodeon series, basked in some of that quintessential Humboldtian character during his time at Humboldt State University, and later brought that character and pluck to his perfect animated series.

    IT IS A BEAUTIFUL REGION, in short, that fits the sprightly show, a show that followed the adventures of a sweetly offbeat sea sponge and his pals and frenemies, very well, thanks to Humboldt's natural bounty and whimsy-loving character. If you thought the county's whimsical rep was mostly to do with its famous Kinetic Grand Championship, and its other famous and unusual events, best ponder another visit. And make it about paying homage to the memory of Mr. Hillenburg, who passed away in Southern California on Nov. 26, at age 57, following a battle with ALS.

    WHERE TO FIND THAT HUMBOLDT MAGIC? It's all around, as any local will tell you, but the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau has shared some suggestions for fans of Mr. Hillenburg and his iconic series under the header of the "SpongeBob Trail." You can swing by Telonicher Marine Labratory, to eye the aquariums "teeming with odd local sea life," a place where Mr. Hillenburg put in his time studying, you guessed it, marine biology (and, of course, art, too). Patrick's Point State Park is also on the list, as well as some area places to grab a hamburger (if not a Krabby Patty).

    FOR MORE INFORMATION... on this sweet travel-oriented tribute to one of Humboldt's favorite students and lovers of nature, start your SpongeBob-spunky journey to the land o' the giant trees.