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29 Interesting Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California

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Summers is the best time to take long for vacations, and vacations should be fun! Do you want to have an experience of a lifetime this summer? Are you finding it hard to decide where to go? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then the exemplary California beach town, Santa Cruz, is the right place. Have you hear about it?

Now that the location has been decided, it’s prime time that you start planning your vacations. You see, several things need your attention, e.g., deciding your destination for vacations, planning what you would do there, etc.

This blog will discuss everything you need to know about the following:

  • Why should you opt for Santa Cruz as your holiday destination?
  • What amazing things can you do while you are in Santa Cruz, California?

Why choose Santa Cruz, California as your Holiday Destination?

One thing that comes up to many people’s mind when they think about Santa Cruz is the beach! Tourists visit Santa Cruz beaches every summer because of the 3S: Sun, Sand, and Summer Fun!

Do you know Santa Cruz is famous for its moderate climate and natural environment? Not just this, Santa Cruz also has a diverse landscape, including coastline, community lifestyle, and beautiful parks.

Of course I am bias because I love this town. Let me tell you why. Because it has so many beautiful landscapes, it’s nearly impossible for tourists to pick just one place to visit in Santa Cruz, California. Being a home to 14 state parks and beaches, tourists get inspired by its landscapes and love to experience exciting activities.

However if you already know Santa Cruz and want to explore more of the amazing local spots you stop on the right place!

What things should you do in Santa Cruz?

Although most tourists visit Santa Cruz for the boardwalk, beach and surfing, there is more to see and do in Santa Cruz, California. The exciting combination of rich sandy soil, either with warm, sunny days or cool, foggy nights, makes Santa Cruz a perfect holiday spot in California!

Here are some of the most fascinating and famous beaches in Santa Cruz:

  1. Seacliff beach
  2. Twin Lake beach
  3. New Brighton State beach
  4. Pleasure Point
  5. Natural Bridge State beach
  6. Capitola Beach
  7. Private Beach
  8. Seabright beach

Some well-known landscapes and parks of Santa Cruz that one should pay a visit include:

  1. Henry Cowell State park
  2. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  3. Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanical Garden
  4. Mission Santa Cruz
  5. Roaring Camp
  6. Mystery Spot
  7. Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Landscape Parks:

  1. Land of the Medicine Buddha
  2. Nisene Marks State Park
  3. Pogonip
  4. Wilder Ranch State Park
  5. Davenport
  6. Shark Fin Cove
  7. Sunny Cove
  8. Loch Lomond

With this in mind the above-mentioned are great places to visit beautiful landscapes of Santa Cruz add to your experience, and each of them is discussed below in detail.

Here is the list of Things to do in Santa Cruz, California:

1.     Take a ride at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a beautiful and fun amusement park at the seaside along the beautiful sandy beach. It features almost 40 rides, including different thrill rides, baby rides, indoor games, and many more.

This boardwalk it is a California Historical landmark and was founded in 1907 and It is one of the oldest amusement parks in California. You can expect everything form flying chairs, soaring roller coasters with ocean views and a real train going to the redwoods.

With this in mind, taking rides is an essential thing to do in Santa Cruz, California! These include the Pirate Ship, Sky Glider, Shockwave, Undertow, Giant Dipper, Rock ‘N Roll, Sea Swings, Wave Rider, Tsunami, Twirlin’ Teacups, Cyclone, Ghost Blasters, Space Race, Fireball, Cave Train, and Sea Serpent rides.

I suggest that if you plan to spend your day at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, heading to the park early in the morning is a better idea.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and be ready to have fun at this place. You can be riding a flying chairs overlooking the ocean!

This is an amazing place for a walk along the shore in this charming location while enjoying the game of Volleyball. Exploring Santa Cruz feels peaceful when getting your toes in the soft sand at the beach of Santa Cruz.

Location : 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz California 95060

Tips:

Make sure to arrive early to find parking since parking on the street is cheaper than the main parking lot. However, if you get a seasonal pass you can get a parking discount to the main parking lot, which is worth it if you are planning to stay all day.

You can find more information about the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk here.

2.   Explore Henry Cowell Redwood State Park:

Henry Cowell is a Sate Park is situated in the Santa Cruz mountains and is well known for its famous 40-acre grove of old towering growth redwood trees. It is one of the earliest preserved redwood groves in the state.

Henry_cowell_Redwood_tree

Above is one of the examples where you can see a tree 1500 years old. The visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, horse riding, picnicking, swimming, and camping there. There is a flat trail in a small loop of redwood trees about a mile long where you can enjoy the view and their survival adaptation.

At the small information center you can find what animals live in this park. Some of them are black-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, and steelhead trout.

It is a fantastic place to enjoy quality time with your family and friends. Pack your bags and let your soul be at peace, surrounded by tall trees and soft grass.

The tallest tree in the park is approximately 277 feet tall, about 16 feet wide, and around 1,500 years old.

In addition inside this 6,400+ acre park you will find:

  1. Camping areas: the are loaded near the Santa Cruz Sandhills habits. This is a day use area by trails and vehicles must enter the campground east Felton, via Graham Hill Road.
  2. The garden of Eden is a local swim spot specially in the summer.
  3. Roaring Camp is located directly adjacent to the park.

Location: 101 Big Trees Park Rd, Felton, CA, 95018

Tips: watch for poison oak on trails. Bring sunscreen, good hiking shoes and watch for banana slugs. Dogs are allow on leash.

Cost: $10 per car and senior discount $9

More information about Henry Cowell State Park can be found here.

3.     Ride a train at Roaring Camp:

In addition to many great other great places, Santa Cruz has Roaring Camp Railroad which you definitely need to check out when you’re in town. It is located inside Henry Cowell State Park. The railroad engine starts from Roaring Camp in Felton and run up steep grades through towering redwood forests.

A fun fact about this place is that most of its engines are quite old, authentically preserved from the 1890s. They are still capable of providing regular passenger services to tourists which I find totally amazing!

Here you can choose between different trips including the one that takes you all the way down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It runs along the San Lorenzo river until the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. This place holds events all year long. Some of them are Easter egg hunting, Father’s Day, a Day Out with Thomas and the Holiday Lights train.

Location: Roaring camp railroads, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton, CA, 95018
Cost: $35 and up per person

Tips: Be prepare to spend all day here. There’s more than just trains, beautiful scenery, food and exhibitions.

Find more information here

4.     Defy gravity at the Mystery Spot :

What comes to your mind when you hear the term Mystery Spot? The Mystery Spot is a dent in the space time continuum, in the Redwood forest outside Santa Cruz. This place will undoubtedly stun your perceptions of gravity and physics and It is a experience that you should have at least once in your life!

The Mystery Spot has confused many visitors so much that they have visited this place repeatedly to experience puzzling variations of gravity and height. Hence, the spot remained Mystery Spot!

In fact its prime location among the redwood and its gravitational anomaly has amazed many since 1940. This is one of the reason has been listed as a California landmark since 2014.

Be prepared to be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned on this circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter.

Location: The Mystery Spot , 465 Mystery Spot Road ,Santa Cruz, CA 95065 USA 

Cost: $8.00. Children 3 and under are free if pay online in advance

Tips: Bring cash if you are planing to pay at the door because they accept only accept cash or check. My advice is to get there early to find good parking. This is a great place for kids and any age. You can get to do a short hike on the property on a trail open that takes about half hour.

Find more information, click here.

5. See the Sea Lions at the Santa Cruz Wharf

An interesting fact is that the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf was constructed in 1914 and still in great shape. At some point, it was part of the sardine cannery before it was demolished in 1922.

At the moment it is home of many restaurants shops and held many events. Also, it is one of the favorite places for sea lions to hang out.

City beaches are an important spot for the trip to Santa Cruz. Among all the beaches, this place is most popularly known for:

  • Fishing
  • Boat tours
  • Viewing sea lions
  • Dining
  • Nightlife
  • Gift shops

Find more history of the wharf here.

The view of the boardwalk from here it is amazing!

If you walk to the end of the wharf and you will find the sea lion lying by the wharf support pilings. It is definitely a fun show and you will surprised to find other sea creatures around them.

Restaurants:

Sea food:

Dolphin restaurant

Firefish Grill

Stangaro Bros seafood

Mexican Cusine:

Makai

Olitas

Gildas

Riva

Winery

Vino Locale Santa Cruz Wine Bar & Tapas

Coffe shop

Woodies Cafe 

6. Ride your bike on West Cliff drive

This scenic 3 miles cliff path is perfect for walking or biking and extends from Natural Bridges State Park to the Boardwalk area by the Santa Cruz Dream Inn.  Locals and tourists alike enjoy these gorgeous cliffs in Santa Cruz.

After visiting Natural Bridges, take some time to walk or ride your bike along West Cliff Drive, it truly is one of the locals’ favorite places.

It is a great spot to take in the views and people watch, walk your dog and appreciate nature’s beauty. You will find runners, cyclists and amazing surfing at Steamer’s Lane, one of the best surf breaks anywhere.

Location: It starts at the Dream Inn Hotel passing the Boardwalk, running until Natural Bridges State park, around 3 miles away.

7. Go for a stroll on East Cliff drive

This widely extending cliff-side pathway linking Capitola and Santa Cruz is a dazzling waterfront promenade – part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail. It lays along the along coastal bluffs overlooking the sparkling ocean and is used by:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Strollers and Wheelchairs
  3. Dogs
  4. Beach Cruisers
  5. Skate Boarders

East Cliff Drive is the cliff-side walkway, the sports exciting seaside views passing through the heart of Pleasure Point’s beach culture. Start your tour at the 41st and East Cliff where you will find The Hook, a world-famous surf spot!

Spring is more colorful at East Cliff as the flowers bloom along the walkways. When you come to 32nd Street, Pleasure Point spectators can watch surfers putting on quite a show. One of Pleasure Point’s biggest draws is East Cliff Drive.

 The incredible beauty of this cliff make it one of the favorite places for locals to stroll and admire the surfing.

8.  Learn about Santa Cruz history visiting Mission Santa Cruz:

Mission Santa Cruz is known for being the oldest building in Santa Cruz. Its Park Store reflects this history, and this place offers a collection of books about:

  • Native American Experience
  • California Mission History
  • Santa Cruz History Books

In addition, Mission Santa Cruz is a fantastic place to pay a visit. You’ll find all of the following here:

  • Historical exhibition.
  • Guide available to offer programs at the Mission, all you have to do is check the calendar for the timings of the topic of your interest.
  • The park setting at the Mission, with picnic tables and grassy areas all set! You can enjoy yourself with your family and friends at Mission Santa Cruz!

Location: 120 Emmett St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Find more information here

9. Learn at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center:

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is an educational center which is part of the University of California, Santa Cruz. This community-supported marine science education center is an amazing place to explore the marine life of the Monterey Bay.

This is a 20,000-square-foot visitor center. Here guests can touch a shark, and explore the latest discoveries in ocean science and view of the spectacular diversity of marine life and it is surrounded by spectacular landscaping.

The Center offers a deeper dive into the research conducted at Long Marine Lab through school field-trips and summer youth programs. It is an opportunity for kids to find their inner scientist with these experimental programs.

At the Seymour Marine Lab you will find:

  • Interactive Marine Science Museum & Aquarium
  • Hands-on Exhibitions: you can touch a tiger shark!
  • A Touch Pool

Cost: free and accept donations

Find more information here

10. Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden:

An arboretum is where trees, shrubs, and herbs are cultured for scientific and educational purposes. Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden features trees and rare and unique plant species.

This place is a modern botanical garden and is open to the public. Its current collection of plants and scientific knowledge associated has build it a great reputation.

This place has California native plants and plants from many other from countries of the world. It is set up In different areas to explore for each continent. It is nestled in the hills above the UCSC campus.It has a wonderful succulents collection and It is a truly hidden gem for nature lovers.

It’s a super peaceful place, where visitors can sit on a bench and soak in nature, take pictures of exotic and nearly extinct plants, bird watch, or see insects, butterflies, bees and spiders. There are well maintained paths to stroll around and with strategically situated picnic tables.

Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden focuses on:

  • Beauty
  • Educational Research
  • Opportunities for observing and admiring Nature

Location:  1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Cost: $5 for Adults and $2 for Children (6 to 17 years old), and free under 6

Find more information here

11. Take a taxi ride at the Santa Cruz Harbor

The Santa Cruz Craft Harbor is situated in Santa Cruz, California on the site of the former Woods Lagoon. In general, locals and visitors use this harbor specially for boating and extra-curricular activities.

Something you will find for sure at the Harbor are incredible sunsets!

One unique thing to do here is take the Harbor Taxi and operates from June-September. The taxi helps to access both sides of the Harbor.

Kids really enjoy this ride and sometimes get to see otters and sea lions.

In addition, there are good restaurants such as Café el Palomar or the local favorite Crow’s Nest.

By the harbor, you can find volleyball nets set up, with benches close by.

Further during holiday time the harbor holds a fun holiday parade. This is the time where boats light up, bringing the festive spirit.

Location:  135 5th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Find more information here

12. Try a glass of Wine at on of The Many Winery and Tasting Rooms

Did you know the Santa Cruz is home to one of the oldest wine growing regions in California? These wineries of Santa Cruz are small, warm and family-run. Many times, your glass will be filled by the winemakers themselves, and by the owner at other times.

Consequently, if you are a wine lover, and are planning to visit California these wineries of Santa Cruz should be on your radar!

Did you know that there are over 200 small vineyard producers in the Santa Cruz Mountains? In addition, theSanta Cruz Mountains have more than 70 wine grape varieties.

Some of the best wineries in the area are: Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards, Loma Prieta Winery, Pelican Ranch Winery, Ridge Winery, and Soquel Vineyards. 

12. Explore the past at the Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History in Santa Cruz is known among locals as “The Whale Museum.” It is one of the earliest in the state of California. The museum has linked the visitors and locals to the wonders of Native American and Santa Cruz geology and fossils.

The museum displays natural and cultural history. Its mission is to connect people with nature and science and inspire management of the natural world through an arrangement of educational programs.

The museum has a great collection of archaeological artifacts, and natural history specimens.

Loaction: 1305 E Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Find more information here

13. Take a hike at the Forest of Nisene Mark State Park

A few miles away from the Pacific Ocean, outside the quaint village of Aptos, the scenic Forest of Nisene Marks State Park rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet.

If you ever come to Santa Cruz, go explore the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, a 10,000+ acre wonderland! You can see the redwoods without going too far into the mountains.

It is the dense second- and third-growth redwood forest rises from near sea level to steep coastal mountains. Visitors enjoy the dense Redwood forests and deep canyons of the forest.

Visitors love the varied landscape ranging from sea level to steep coastal mountains. Here you can go for:

  1. Hiking
  2. Biking
  3. Jogging Trails

This park’s main fire road was previously the bed for the railroad of the Loma Prieta Mill that cleared almost all of today’s redwood forest after year of logging frenzy lasting dozens of years. The logging stopped due to lack of economically viable trees to cut.

This forest is a monument to forest regeneration and the future and it is a wonderful place to soak up nature. We love to visit here any time of the year even after rain to play in the puddles and It is easy to spot banana slugs! My kids love to visit.

Today, the park showcases a forest in recovery, with so many hiking trails to explore. According to All Trails there are about 32 hiking trails. Some great trails are the Aptos Rancho Trail, Split Stuff Trail, Terrace Trail, and Vienna Woods Trail. Check for more here.

The geography of this park is influenced by different earthquakes faultlines. The epicenter of the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 is located here.

Visitors can hike to the epicenter of the Loma Prieta Earthquake by taking Aptos Creek Fire Road to the Epicenter Trail.

Location: 664-784 Aptos Creek Fire Rd, Aptos, CA 95003

Cost:There is a $10 per vehicle day-use fee.

Tips: Dogs are only allowed on Aptos Creek fire Road. Bicycles are allowed only on Aptos Creek Fire Road.

14. Meditate at the Land of the Medicine Buddha

Santa Cruz is not just a beach town. Thanks to unique geography it is also the home of amazing forests. If you are lover of soft, quiet environments, it’s time for you to get into your hiking boots and traipse through redwood forests to the Land of Medicine Buddha. The place is open for tourists from Sunrise to Sunset.

This is an incredible and unique place where the redwoods mix with Buddhist temples that brings serenity. It is a secluded meditation retreat center that opens its trails to the public.

At the entrance you are welcomed by a huge Golden Buddha and a prayer wheel to spin and a gong surrounded by a redwood tree grove. After you pass the retreat center, a short hike up hill is required to reach the upper level where another set of Bhuddas and prayer wheels are.

After following the path you will find the wishing temple. If you keep going you will reach the circumambulate (built to walk around it).

The path to the forest changes from Redwood and Douglas Fir to the grooves of Oak Trees. This loop hike is called Eight Verse Pilgrimage Loop.

At this loop the you find a series of signs and flags with welcoming benches where you can meditate, soaking up the stunning surroundings.

Location: 5800 Prescott Road, Soquel, CA 95073, USA

Tips: Prescott Road is narrow. Dogs have to be on leach. The hike is easy to moderate. Respect the quite environment of the retreat and enjoy

Parking: priority is given to people who are participating in courses and retreats. Day visitors may have to park outside.

Bicycles: not allowed on our paths or fire roads.

15. Visit Davenport Beach

North of Santa Cruz is the tiny town of Davenport, which offers scenic views and amazing surf. It is located 10 minutes from Santa Cruz and around 100 yards away from the Ocean. It’s surrounded by:

  1. Organic Farms
  2. Boutique Vineyards
  3. State Beaches
  4. Hiking

Among the places to visit in this Santa Cruz area is Davenport beach, a.k.a. San Vicente Beach. It is the southern beach of two beaches located here.

The first one is easily accessible and the other one is not. Here there are high cliff walls and an impressive tall rock known as the “Davenport Crack.”

16. Explore Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch is a State Park with 7,000 acres and it is situated right along the coast. It extends from the crest of Ben Lomond mountain, the landscape rolls down to the seashore.

Things you can do here include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and exploring the old ranch buildings.

The historical and old area of Wilder Ranch includes:

  1. Machine Shop
  2. Farmhouse
  3. Live barn Animals

Also, at the ranch you can take a peek of California’s early ranching history by visiting an 1897 Victorian home, a very well preserved building. Here you can experience a 1896 water-powered machine shop.

It is a great place to enjoy a picnic on the front lawn, and visit the farm animals. The ranch offers events during the year. One of our favorites is the 4th of July when lots of volunteers dress up in period costumes.

Wilder_Ranch

Wilder Ranch State Park has so many different trails with beautiful scenic views. One of them is 2.3 mile loop along the coastal bluffs from where you can watch seals, birds and other animals in their natural habitat.

Location: 1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Cost: $10 vehicle day-use fee. seniors $9

Tips: dogs are not allowed at Wilder Ranch (except for service animals)

17. Fish at Loch Lomond

Between the Santa Cruz’s surprises, Loch Lomond is among the most lovely of its secrets. Veiled among the luxurious redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the sparkling reservoir grabs the attention of the visitors with scenery, serenity and extra-curricular activities including:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Pinicking

It is a great spot for locals to fish. If you want to do so while enjoying this view, do not hesitate and grab your fishing pole!

Location: 100 Loch Lomond Way, Felton, CA 95018

Cost: Vehicle $8

More Useful Information:

  • No outside boats/paddle-boards allowed with the exception
  • A limited number of boats can be rented (on a first come, first served basis)

BOAT RENTAL:

Electric Motor Boat

  • 2 hr minimum M-F, $30 first 2 hours, $15 each hour thereafter, $90 all day
  • 3 hr minimum on weekends and holidays before noon, $45 first 3 hours, $15 each hour thereafter, $90 all day

Row Boats , Paddle Boats and Nucanoes:  

  • 2 hr minimum, $15 first 2 hours, $7.50 each hour thereafter, $45 all day

18. Pogonip

Pogonip is an exciting vision of natural beauty. This place offers a hiking and biking trail network among redwood and oak forests.

Over the years, the landscape of Pogonip has been transformed by human influence. In Pogonip’s multiple trails you will find: mountain bikers, hikers, horse riding and disc golf players.

The Pogonip trail system totals approximately 11.5 miles. There are a number of trails and fire roads, some connecting with the UCSC trail system. From the meadow by the abandoned club house, you get an expansive view of the city and bay.

Location: 333 Golf Club Drive 

Cost: free

Useful information:

Dogs must be on a leash at all times where they are permitted. The park has different entrances:

  • Golf Club Drive On– street parking on Golf Club Drive between the trestle & HWY 9
    (Hiking only/Dogs on leash) 
  • Harvey West Park – Trailhead near Friendship Garden
    (Hiking only/No dogs)
  • Spring Street – Limited parking on residential street
    (Hiking on/Dogs on leash)
  • UCSC Upper Campus – Fuel Break Road – Multi-Use Trail Entrance
    (Hiking, Bicycles and Horses permitted/No Dogs)
  • Henry Cowell State Park – Rincon Connector Trail – Multi-Use Trail Entrance (Hiking, Bicycles and Horses permitted/No Dogs)

19.     Visit the Monarch butterflies at Natural Bridge State Beach

This summer, fall in love with the combination of warm beaches and tasty wine in Santa Cruz. Surfers carry their boards to the National Bridge State Beach, where families relax on the sand as their kids splish-splash in the sea!

It is a small, enclosed beach where you can enjoy relaxing in the fine-textured sand, flying a kite in the gentle sea breeze, dipping toes in the foamy water, and taking in the ocean view.

This is an excellent area for viewing shore birds, as well as seals and otters playing with off shore animals.

It is a sandy cove and a perfect spot for tide pools when low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. 

The park Include:

  • The Park’s Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve Grove trail. A must visit! Here you can stroll around the eucalyptus trees. The temporary refuge for this butterflies from late fall until spring.
  • Picnic benches by the parking area and public bathrooms with showers. 
  • Large area of coastal scrub and grasslands, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. 
  • Natural Bridges visitor Center

FEES – There is a $10 vehicle day-use fee, Senior $9

Useful Information:

Dogs are not allowed on the beach and trails only in the parking lots and picnic areas

20.     Pleasure Point:

On of the most popular surf spots is Pleasure Point. It is an excellent surfing spot for experienced wave riders to challenge their abilities. The sporting spirit of surfers can be seen gliding over the sea waves!

In this laid back neighborhood you will find surf shops, charming beach cottages, and vibrant surf vibes a path with surfers and beachgoers. A great place to visit, no wetsuit or surfboard required!

The Jack O’Neill Park that over looks the surf spot The Hook and has views of the Monterey Bay. This park honors the surf legend who lived in the huge green house on the same cliff.

21. Shark Fin Cove

Santa Cruz is a beautiful coastal city, a home to some of the most beautiful attractions in the State of California.

Among the best beaches of California is the Shark Fin Cove. This beach is situated south of the Davenport, with amazing and fantastic view. If you have never seen Shark Fin Cove, this place is a must paying a visit to.

To access to this coved and protected beach you need to go down a narrow stair. It is formed by an extension of the mudstone cliff that encloses this beach. Over the years, the force of the ocean eroded the rock and carved on its actual shape.

When you are down the beach you will find the Sea Cave. It is absolutely a very interested place to visit. Unfortunatelly, recently visitor haven’t kept it clean so if you do visit please do your best to carry back everything you bring.

To get there you park at the Bonny Doon parking lot and walk close by the train tracks and hike down . No parking fees. There’s a hike down to the cove for a walk through it and a close up view of the fin.

Keep in mind it’s not a huge area to explore but the whole area is beautiful.

22. Visit Capitola Beach and Village

One of the oldest beach resorts on the West Coast is Capitola beach. It is a popular tourist town known for its trendy and stylish shops and restaurants. The shore connects it to a fishing wharf and large sandy beach. 

Capitola is a charming little town with cute beach shops and good restaurants. People hang out either at the main beach or at the “Jetty,” another surf point for beginners and intermediate surfers.

There is plenty of restaurants, from sushi to Mexican food and Ice cream stores. You will even find some wineries as well.

Here you find different events all the year long. For example concerts during summer nights and Easter egg hunts during spring, or wine festivals in the fall.

There are plenty of surf classes held at this beach which is considered a beginner surf break. Make sure to book your surf class if you are up to the adventure of learning to surf.

Location: San Jose Ave and Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010

Tips: parking at the village is maximum 3 hours. If you are planning to stay longer or spend the day you best option are the parking lots situated a little bit farther.

23. Seabright beach

It is a popularly known Sandy beach very next to Santa Cruz’s main beach. It is on state-owned property as a part of Twin Lakes State Beach.

This is a great place for volleyball, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, fishing and paddle boarding.

One thing Seabright beach is very popular as a great spot for evening beach bonfires. Grab some wood and toast your marshmallows here! There are pits to use on a first come, first served bases.

Its easy and convenient vicinity of the Beach Boardwalk make it the perfect beach for visitors to explore and soak up more of the local’s vibe.

Location:

East Cliff Dr. at Seabright Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Useful Information:

  • Dogs are permitted on leash only. Lifeguards are on duty for the summer only.
  • Parking and beach access is available at the west end of East Cliff Drive near Alhambra Avenue, Mott Avenue and at the end of 3rd Avenue.
  • It could be difficult to find parking during the summer and you may need to walk few blocks.

24.    Have a beach day at Seacliff Beach State Park

Seacliff State Beach is a beach park on Monterey Bay in Aptos, Santa Cruz, California. This beach is located off Highway No 1. and has great facilities. Some of them:

  • including picnic areas
  • Visitor center
  • RV camping.

It is very well known for the Cement Ship, a concrete boat that was purchased in the 1920’s and intentionally sunk, which has become a local landmark.

This beach is best known for the half sunken concrete freighter and the fishing pier that connects to it. Each year, the ship is sinking and breaking up a bit more. In addition, the pier has suffered severed damage with late storms and at the moment it is halfway fenced up for safety.

Despite that sharks sightings, Seacliff is popular for swimming! It is important to mention it for all the joggers, for you runners this is a favorite spot to use the stairs, that go from the upper parking lot to the pier, for exercise.

Useful information:

Dogs are allow with leachDay-use fee. Camping reservations suggested year-round.

25.     Visit Twin Lake Beach:

Twin Lake State Beach is on Monterey Bay and is located at:

  • The South of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor
  • In Coastal Santa Cruz County, Northern California.

Tourists know this long seashore for:

  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Birdwatching
  • Volleyball

Tourists love the adjacent Schwan’s Lake, an excellent location for bird watching, dog walking, with great bay views.

26. Sunny Cove Drive

Sunny Cove Drive is favorite spot for the locals and tourists for skilled level body surfers. It boasts the best body surfing for record breaking surfing. Beginners love to get their feet wet at Sunny Cove and it is a splendid place for family relaxation.

The place is loved by the visitors due to which it is usually crowded on holidays, weekends and evenings in Summer!

27. Park your RV ar New Brighton Beach State Park:

While you are in Santa Cruz, you should surely pay a visit to New Brighton State Beach, known as one of the most popular and visited State Park campgrounds in California.

This park extends to over 93-acre land along the beautiful and attractive coast of Santa Cruz. It is open for tourists for 7 days a week from 8 am till sunset. This means that you would never want to miss an amazing sunset at the New Brighton State Beach.

In addition to this, New Brighton State Beach offers numerous facilities like:

  • Picnic AreasTent
  • RV camping.
  • RV hookup available
  • Fishing
  • Forest of Oak and Pine, situated near it.

28. Sneak into Private’s Beach

In the Opal Cliffs area of Santa Cruz is the Private beach, also known as a local surfer’s beach. The amazing spot needs a key to get entrance to the sand from the street. The Santa Cruz beaches are the heart and soul to The coastline of Santa Cruz.

Either you are taking a walk along the shore or enjoying the game of volley ball, exploring the breath taking location of Santa Cruz with your feet in the soft sand, this place is a must stopover on your trip to Santa Cruz.

29. Visit Neary Lagoon Park

Among the well-known parks is Neary Lagoon, which features a trail which eventually extends into floating walkways over the Lagoon.

While passing through Neary Lagoon Park there are several activities to participate in:

  • Playgrounds available for children to play and enjoy
  • Tennis court and basketball court located in the park.
  • Enjoy a stroll in the Coastal and observe the abundant wildlife on this peaceful scenery (bird watching)

Definitely this place is well-suited for you to enjoy barbecuing with family and friends.

Wow, now you know about so many places to visit in Santa Cruise!

So what are you waiting for?

Therefore, it’s time to plan your long due vacations, and you would want it to be nothing less than perfect!

If you ever happen to visit other parts of California, make sure to check out this blog!

If you want to learn more about the exciting places and attractions to see in Santa Cruz, visit this site. Also, you will also find this link helpful!

Happy vacationing!

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3 Comments

  1. This is an incredible list, so helpful! I’ve saved this in case we can make it to Santa Cruz when we’re in California this autumn (fingers crossed!)

  2. This is an incredible list, so helpful! I’ve saved this in case we can make it to Santa Cruz when we’re in California this autumn (fingers crossed!) The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park looks amazing.

  3. I loved reading about your experience in Santa Cruz, California. Your descriptions really made it come alive for me. Happy travels!

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