With its mild climate and beautiful scenery, Santa Cruz is a top destination for visitors.

Santa Cruz is a city in the United States of America. The “unique things to do in santa cruz” are many, and include festivals, museums, and beaches.

30+ Seriously Exciting Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California!

Santa Cruz is renowned for being a surfer’s paradise, but there are so many other fascinating things to do in Santa Cruz (and nearby!) that you’ll want to put it on your California itinerary whether or not you like surfing.

Santa Cruz has several lovely beaches, state parks with redwood woods and waterfalls, attractive lighthouses, and mountains dotted with vineyards thanks to its fortunate position on California’s magnificent Central Coast.

The town has a laid-back attitude that encourages you to take a deep breath and unwind.

Wilder Beach in Santa Cruz, CaliforniaLovely Wilder Beach

Santa Cruz is worth visiting for its entertaining beach boardwalk, stunning beachfront walks, and spacious beaches, but also take the time to explore the various state parks’ hiking and bike trails to learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as the top-notch eating and wine tasting opportunities.

Are you planning a trip to this pleasant seaside holiday destination? Continue reading to learn about the finest things to do in Santa Cruz, as well as our recommendations for where to stay and dine!

Santa Cruz, CA Attractions

Enjoy yourself on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a must-see, particularly if you’re here for the first time.

The seashore amusement park has been open since 1907, and two of the rides are designated as National Historic Landmarks.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CaliforniaThe Santa Cruz Boardwalk from above.

The Giant Dipper is a wooden roller coaster that has been thrilling guests since 1924! The exquisite Looff Carousel, a hand-carved merry-go-round from 1911, will delight children.

The park offers a variety of rides, ranging from kid-friendly to very exciting.

You may bowl or play mini-golf in the arcade, which has a range of games, including the newest.

Bring your appetite: you’ll find everything from corn dogs and nacho cheese fries to churros, ice cream, funnel cakes, and cotton candy at this amusement park!

If you prefer a conventional lunch, there are many of eateries around, and the beach location means you could see otters, dolphins, or even whales in the sea.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is open to the public for free. Rides are charged separately, and you may load up your boardwalk card to pay as you go.

Enjoy the Main Beach in Santa Cruz.

Main Beach is a prominent Santa Cruz beach that stretches from the Municipal Wharf to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River, just in front of the Boardwalk.

Aerial view of Main Beach in Santa Cruz, CAa bird’s eye view of Main Beach

The beach is popular with surfers and has a range of facilities, including designated swim areas and lifeguards.

Even though Main Beach is a huge stretch of sand, anticipate it to be packed on weekends when the weather is favorable.

Bring a blanket and a lunch, and arrive early to secure a space to unwind for a few hours. Take a walk on the beach. Volleyball on the beach If you want to swim, verify the water quality ratings before going.

If you are hungry, there are a number of eateries along Beach Street.

If you stroll toward the San Lorenzo River, you’ll see the shoreline bending into the sea and the lighthouse at the end. It’s a fantastic picture opportunity!

In the ocean, look for sea lions and otters, as well as a variety of birds in the air and on the beach. If you go while the river has pooled on the shore, you will almost certainly see a number of birds.

West Cliff Drive offers spectacular views.

Walk or bike West Cliff Drive, which hugs the Pacific Ocean for its whole length, offers amazing views of the Monterey Bay. The accessible trail is 2.7 miles long one way and is one of Santa Cruz’s most picturesque treks.

View along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, CaliforniaWest Cliff Drive is a lovely place to stroll. Summer (PC)

West Cliff Drive runs from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf to Natural Bridges State Beach on the opposite side of the peninsula.

There are several parking spots along the path’s length, so you may do only a portion of it if you like, but if you come on a lovely day, you will want to stay for a while, so plan accordingly.

While walking or biking, take in the magnificent ocean vistas, check for surfers riding the waves, and keep an eye out for dolphins and whales in the water.

If you wish to take a break or pause to take in the scenery, there are benches along the path.

West Cliff Drive is open all year and is free to walk or cycle along. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.

We recommend going on a weekday for a more peaceful and relaxed walk. West Cliff Drive is quite popular, both with tourists and residents, and parking may be difficult on weekends.

Walk along East Cliff Drive.

East Cliff Drive is a magnificent waterfront path in Pleasure Point that runs from Pleasure Point to The Hook as part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail.

View from East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, CA, in the springPC: Summer, with poppies and coastal vistas along East Cliff Drive

On a clear day, the vistas from the route, which makes its way along the cliffs overlooking gorgeous Monterey Bay, are incomparable. While strolling, take in views of picturesque coves and spectacular surf breakers.

The park on the cliff above the Hook is an excellent spot to observe surfers. Pleasure Point Park is also an excellent spot to see surfers catch waves.

Wharf Walk in Santa Cruz

The present Santa Cruz Wharf, which was built in 1914, is the site’s sixth wharf. It stretches 2,745 feet into the Monterey Bay, making it the country’s longest wooden pier.

Santa Cruz Wharf in CaliforniaThe Wharf of Santa Cruz

One of the nicest things to do in Santa Cruz is walk to the end of the wharf and back. On your way out, you’ll get spectacular views of the ocean, and on your return back, you’ll have views of the beach and city.

Look for a variety of marine birds, as well as seals and sea lions, along the trip. Enjoy the sea lions’ barking and the boisterous screaming of the birds.

In the sea, you could observe dolphins or otters, as well as whales spouting or fluking.

The Wharf of Santa Cruz is lined with boutiques and gift shops, and restaurants. It’s a great place to get a bowl of steaming clam chowder or a fresh seafood meal.

Check to see if there are any activities planned for the time of your visit to the Wharf.

The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is a must-see.

The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural Past, located above Seabright Beach on East Cliff Drive, highlights the region’s rich flora and wildlife, as well as its cultural history.

The museum is modest, with just a small percentage of its holdings on exhibit at any one time. It is housed in a historic Carnegie Library building from the early twentieth century.

1652216418_190_30-Seriously-Exciting-Things-to-Do-in-Santa-Cruz-CaliforniaGrounds with vibrant blooms PC: Natural History Museum of Santa Cruz

The museum’s holdings range from fossils, shells, and minerals to animals, insects, historical objects, and fine arts. The museum also holds events that showcase its treasures from time to time.

The museum’s grounds provide for a lovely promenade, with display gardens showcasing the Central California Coast’s ecosystems and plants.

The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and significant holidays are closed.

Adult entry is $4.00 at the time of writing, with discounts for seniors, students, and children under the age of 18.

At the Santa Cruz Harbor, look for marine life.

Visit the Santa Cruz Harbor if you love seeing marine life and birds. The Monterey Bay National Marine Life Sanctuary includes the Harbor.

Sea otter, CaliforniaGrooming of a sea otter

Sea lions, harbor seals, and otters are likely to be seen basking in the sun. If you’re fortunate, you could observe dolphin schools swimming close to the coast!

Cormorants, seagulls, great blue herons, and black-crowned night herons are among the many species that frequent this area. In the Woods Lagoon area, look for night herons.

Take a Cruise to See Whales

The departure location for whale-watching tours in Santa Cruz is the Santa Cruz Harbor. Cruises are available all year.

Whale watching in CaliforniaTake a whale-watching trip in Monterey Bay!

While humpback and gray whales are regularly seen, depending on the time of year, you could get a glimpse of an orca or blue whale. Dolphins and porpoises may also be seen.

Aside from whale-watching excursions, you may also arrange a fishing charter or a Monterey Bay scenic cruise. The landscape is stunning, and sunsets on the ocean on the west coast may be amazing!

Go stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking.

Are you looking for a more active approach to enjoy the water? Join a guided tour or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard!

The port is a fantastic spot to learn to paddle because of the calm waters. Paddlers with more experience may travel out of the port and onto the open bay.

Paddling trips allow you to see the kelp beds offshore and may allow you to see otters, harbor seals, and sea lions up close while you paddle! On clear days, the vistas are breathtaking.

In Santa Cruz, you may paddle all year. Winter sunsets are very beautiful. Winter and spring are the best times to see whales.

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is worth a visit.

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center, run by the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a fascinating location for both youngsters and adults. If a docent-led tour is available when you visit, take it!

Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz, Californiaskeleton of a blue whale Alenka, PC

Even though it’s a tiny museum targeted mostly at children, we loved visiting this modest marine science museum as adults without children.

Stop outside to see the massive blue whale skeleton on exhibit as you enter. There are native gardens in the rear and magnificent views of the ocean on the grounds.

Inside, you’ll discover a number of displays, some of which are interactive and useful for learning about the region’s rich marine life. The possibility to touch the aquatic creatures will appeal to children.

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is situated at 100 McAllister Way and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Adult entrance is $11.00 at the time of writing, with slight reductions for elderly and children.

Take pictures at Natural Bridges State Beach.

Natural Bridges State Beach is one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz. The beach is lovely and not too big, providing great picture possibilities.

The name comes from the fact that there were formerly three natural bridges here. Only one bridge remains today, and it is one of Santa Cruz’s most photographed monuments. If you can get up early enough, sunrise is the best time to get that great image here.

Photographing the sole remaining natural bridge at the Natural Bridges State Beach is one of the top Santa Cruz, CA Attractions.Natural Bridge is a wonderful photograph!

The beach is an excellent spot for bird watching. Look for a variety of coastal birds, as well as seals and otters playing in the water, or farther out, dolphins and migratory whales.

If the tide is out, stroll to the west end of the beach’s tidepools to see a variety of small colorful marine life, including sea stars, shore crabs, and sea anemones. The park visitor center has a map of the tidepools, and tide timings may be found here.

There are a few routes in the park that provide spectacular views of the area’s softly colored coastal scrub and grasslands. Enjoy a variety of gorgeous wildflowers when strolling in the spring.

The beach is open from 8 a.m. till sunset. A $10.00 day usage fee is charged each car. Pets are not permitted on the beach or on the hikes, but are permitted in the parking lots and picnic area on a leash.

The Monarch Trail at Natural Bridges

The Monarch Butterfly Grove, an overwintering habitat for monarch butterflies, is located in Natural Bridges State Park.

The orange and black butterflies overwinter in a variety of areas around the California coast, and this grove is a fantastic spot to see them between October and February. The period from late October through the end of November is perfect.

Monarch butterflies on a eucalyptus tree in CaliforniaOn a eucalyptus tree, monarch butterflies congregate.

To offer wind shelter, the eucalyptus trees in the grove are planted along a gently sloping canyon. During peak season, docents may be stationed in the grove with viewing tablets.

When the temperature drops below 60 degrees, monarch butterflies form swarms on tree branches. The butterflies will flutter about as it becomes warmer.

To watch the monarchs, use the accessible boardwalk/dirt route to the observation platform in the grove. The amount of monarch butterflies in the grove changes from year to year.

Bring binoculars for a closer look at the butterflies and a zoom lens for pictures! Various creatures to watch for are wild turkeys, deer, squirrels, and other birds.

Traveling down the coast of California? Monarch butterflies may also be seen in trees at Pacific Grove (also known as Butterfly Town USA) and Pismo Beach.

Moore Creek Preserve is a great place to walk or go birding.

Moore Creek Preserve is located near Natural Bridges State Beach. Moore Creek, in reality, travels through the park and forms wetlands before reaching the sea.

Hiking routes weave through coastal meadows and scrub, oak forests, and mixed pine forest, and are solely available to hikers. In the spring, it has lovely wildflower displays.

Moore Creek Preserve is a great place to go bird watching, so bring your binoculars or zoom lens! Woodpeckers, western meadowlarks, sparrows, warblers, finches, and other birds may be observed throughout the year.

On a tree, a hairy woodpeckerOn a tree, a hairy woodpecker

The park provides breathtaking views of the Monterey Bay and the shoreline. Fog-free days and seasonal birds are common in the spring and autumn.

Are you in the market for an excellent set of binoculars? The Zeiss Terra 8X42 ED binoculars are light enough to carry comfortably while focusing quickly and providing exceptional clarity. They’re waterproof, great for birding and animal watching, and they’re not too expensive.

Check Amazon for availability and to buy!

Surf away!

Santa Cruz is known as “Surf City” for a reason: there are multiple fantastic surfing spots along this length of coast, and whether you’re a novice or an experienced surfer, you’ll find the ideal spot to catch some waves.

Surfers in the water at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz CaliforniaPleasure Point PC: Summer Surfers

Cowell’s Beach is the go-to spot for novices, with calm waves ideal for longboarding. It’s always busy, but it’s a respectable surfing spot.

New to surfing but want to give it a shot? Santa Cruz is an excellent area to learn to surf. This 3-hour beginner class includes equipment and a professional teacher who will teach you the fundamentals.

Make a reservation for a surfing lesson in Santa Cruz!

Pleasure Point is a renowned surfing spot for beginners, pros, and people of all skill levels. For expert-level surfers, Steamer Lane is an internationally famous surfing spot. Another attraction for specialists is The Hook.

Visit the Mission Santa Cruz State Historic Park and the Mission Santa Cruz Mission.

In 1791, the Santa Cruz Mission was established. At the junction of Mission and High Streets is a one-third reproduction of the 1795 church.

On a side wall of the church, look for a 1797 oil painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe. The original handmade baptismal font is kept in a little garden behind the mission.

Mission Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CAThe chapel’s interior

The lone edifice of the Misión la Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz, the twelfth of the California missions founded by Spanish Franciscan friars, is preserved at Mission Santa Cruz State Historic Park, which is located on Mission Hill.

The mission’s Native American occupants were housed in the structure that has survived. The basic construction has been restored to its former appearance, and it is the only one of its kind left in California.

The museum’s displays depict the Ohlone and Yokuts Indians’ experiences at the Santa Cruz Mission, as well as their life before Europeans arrived.

The park also has a terrace and flowers, as well as great views of the city from its high perch.

Thursday through Monday, the park is normally open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but contact ahead to check. Dogs are not permitted within the structure.

Take a stroll around downtown Santa Cruz.

With its diverse shops and cuisine, downtown Santa Cruz is a wonderful place to visit. From fashion and personal care to jewelry and gifts, shoppers will discover a range of establishments to peruse.

Berdels is the place to go for skate and surf lifestyle clothes and accessories, since many of the items are manufactured locally. Curated by the Sea is a charming art gallery that showcases the work of local and regional artists.

The Bookshop Santa Cruz is a huge independent bookshop with a fantastic selection. The bookshop also organizes events on a regular basis.

The Central Coast Creamery store, where you can get all of the company’s artisanal cheeses as well as other superb cheeses, is one of our favorite locations. Here you may also get a delicious grilled cheese sandwich!

Enjoy ice cream? Make a point of stopping at Penny Ice Creamery, where you may sample a selection of homemade frozen delicacies. Seasonal flavors highlight locally sourced organic ingredients.

A monthly antique show and a wine stroll are held in downtown Santa Cruz twice a year, in May and November. The wine walk is a great tasting event that involves wineries from the Santa Cruz Mountains and other sections of Northern California.

Wilder Ranch State Park is a must-see.

Visiting Wilder Ranch State Park is probably one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz if you like the outdoors. A historic dairy ranch and miles of picturesque route are part of the 7,000-acre park.

Wilder Ranch SP, Santa Cruz, CaliforniaWilder Ranch State Park’s scenic cliffs

A Victorian residence from 1897, a Gothic Revival farmhouse from 1859, a machine shop, and other historic structures make up the historic ranch complex. Weekend guided tours may be available at 1 p.m.

The Old Cove Landing Walk connects to the Ohlone Bluff Trail, which is a simple and fairly level trail with great views. Views of pelicans, harbor seals, sea otters, dolphins, and whales may be seen from the overlook over Wilder Beach.

If you have more time, you may try any of the park’s moderate or severe treks. The Old Cabin, Enchanted Loop, and Twin Oaks paths provide views of coastal redwoods.

You may also enjoy horseback riding or mountain biking on the trails of Wilder Ranch State Park. Bring a picnic lunch to the beach to enjoy. From time to time, the park provides guided nature walks and birding hikes; contact ahead to arrange your attendance.

There is a $10 day-use charge for vehicles. Wilder Ranch State Park does not accept dogs.

Visit the Lighthouse Field State Beach Surfing Museum.

Monterey Bay’s northern border is marked by Lighthouse Field State Beach. It’s also known as Point Santa Cruz, and it’s one of Santa Cruz’s most attractive attractions.

Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz, CALighthouse Field State Beach and the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse

The little park looks out over Steamer Lane, a popular surfing destination, and the eucalyptus trees provide an overwintering habitat for monarch butterflies. On the offshore rocks, look for a variety of birds and sea lions.

Photograph the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse and pay a visit to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which is housed inside the lighthouse. Surfboards and other displays span over a century of local surfing history at the museum.

The Surfing Monument, a bronze portraying a guy surfer with his board, may be found here. The park and monument are dedicated to all surfers, according to a plaque.

If you’re visiting around the holidays, don’t miss “Caroling Under the Stars,” a popular yearly event held at the beach.

From 7 a.m. until sunset, the park is open. Dogs must be on a leash. Parking is completely free.

Seabright State Beach is a must-see…

Seabright State Beach is situated across the San Lorenzo River from Main Beach and goes all the way to the Santa Cruz Harbor.

The sandy beach is perfect for strolling and photography, especially around dawn or sunset when the sky are spectacular. Dogs on leash are welcome, so bring your canine companion for a stroll!

A fiery sunset at Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz, CaliforniaPC: Summer, fiery sunset at Seabright Beach

Look for birds along the water’s edge, as well as dolphins or whales farther out. If you wish to sunbathe, bring a blanket or beach chairs. You may swim here as well, but keep in mind that lifeguards are only on duty during the summer.

A natural arch extends out into the river at the beach’s west end. You may travel into the cave at low tide to view the river, the Boardwalk, and farther!

On your walk to or from Seabright Beach, stop at Marianne’s Ice Cream on Ocean Street! Marianne’s is a Santa Cruz landmark, and the homemade ice cream is delectable!

…and take a picture of the Walton Lighthouse

Walton Lighthouse, also known as Breakwater Lighthouse, is located at the east end of Seabright Beach, at the extremity of a rock jetty that juts out into Monterey Bay.

Walton Lighthouse in Santa Cruz, CaliforniaBeautiful Walton Lighthouse

The lighthouse is evocative of lighthouses on the East Coast and makes for a fantastic shot, particularly at dawn or sunset. The lighthouse was built in 2002 and rises little over 40 feet tall.

Watch the vessels enter and exit the port, check for birds and marine life, and enjoy the scenery.

Enjoy the beach at Twin Lakes.

When it comes to beaches, Santa Cruz has a lot to offer! If you like the beach, Twin Lakes Beach is another option close downtown Santa Cruz.

Seabright Beach is part of Twin Lakes State Beach, although the area east of the harbor is quite lovely.

At Twin Lakes Beach, you may swim, sunbathe, hike, fly kites, or have a picnic. In the summer, lifeguards are on duty. You may also try boogie boarding or stand-up paddleboarding here, or launch a kayak.

The Schwan Lagoon, which is close to the shore, is a favorite birdwatching spot. If you are hungry, there are a number of cafés and restaurants around.

At Twin Lakes Beach, dogs must be on a leash. On weekends and throughout the summer, parking may be tough to come by.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, go wine tasting.

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is fairly large, stretching from San Mateo County to Santa Cruz County in the north and south.

You can easily spend two or three days visiting the AVA (and drinking!) from north to south if you have the time and like wine.

If you don’t want to go too far, though, there are several fantastic wine tasting choices both inside and around Santa Cruz.

There are seven wine tasting rooms in the Swift Street Courtyard. The Bonny Doon Vineyard tasting room is open seven days a week, whereas the others are only open on weekends. If you’re hungry, stop by Bantam for some great wood-fired pizza and other farm-to-fork fare!

Beauregard Vineyards is a family-owned and run winery in the Bonny Doon region (plenty of coastal redwoods!) that produces pinot noir, chardonnay, cab, and zinfandel. The grounds are lovely, and samples are available every day.

Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery is located in Corralitos, a bit farther out. On the estate, they cultivate and bottle chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, and syrah. Indoor and outdoor seats, as well as picnic spots, are available at their onsite tasting facility.

Visit the Arboretum and Botanic Garden at UC Santa Cruz.

With mixed evergreen and redwood woods and meadows, the UC Santa Cruz campus is stunning. It also has breathtaking views of the ocean and city from its highest levels.

The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a must-see for garden lovers. It is considered one of the best gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, with numerous rare and endangered species.

Protea in bloomA blooming protea

Within the compound, there are numerous gardens to see. Many colorful native plants, such as bush anemone and wild lilacs, may be found in the California Natives garden, as well as some Channel Island flora like the bush poppy and bush mallow.

Many rare plants may be found in the Australian Garden, New Zealand Garden, and South African Garden. In the middle of winter, the gigantic proteas in the South African Garden put on a spectacular display.

When the salvias are in flower, the Aroma Garden draws bees and butterflies and is a delight to visit. Arid-adapted plants from California and Mexico are featured in the Succulent Garden.

The garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult entry is $10.00, with reductions available for seniors and children.

Check Out The Mysterious Location

The Mystery Spot, nestled in the redwoods just outside of Santa Cruz, is one of the most unusual spots to explore.

The Mystery Spot is a 150-foot-diameter circular cabin area described as a “gravitational anomaly.” Some of the standard principles of physics and gravity don’t apply as they should in this location!

The closer you come to the center of the cabin, the more you tilt, until you’re at a 17-degree lean in the middle. You may stand on the furniture, which adds to the sense of confusion.

Aside from the cottage, a short and lovely hiking track through redwoods is available. The route is available all year and dogs on leashes are welcome.

The Mystery Spot is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For weekend trips, purchasing tickets in advance is suggested.

The cost of admission is $8.00 per person, plus a $5.00 parking charge. If you wish to purchase tickets at the door, you must have cash or a check.

Nearby Attractions in Santa Cruz, California

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a must-see.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is well known for its grove of old-growth coastal redwoods. The park’s tallest tree is 277 feet tall and almost 1,500 years old!

Hiking trail in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in CaliforniaHenry Cowell Redwoods State Park has a path.

Of course, strolling through the redwood forest on the park’s route is the nicest thing to do. The track is 0.8 miles long and level, making it suitable for most park visitors. Don’t miss the Fremont Tree, which you may enter if you bring a torch.

Hiking paths in the Park include the Fall Creek Unit, which offers a second-growth redwood forest and a fern-fringed river canyon. On specified paths, you may also ride a bike or a horse.

From dawn to dusk, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is open. Dogs are permitted in certain picnic places and on some paths. A daily car usage fee of $10.00 is charged.

Riding the Roaring Camp Railroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Roaring Camp Train, a small gauge tourist railroad near Felton, provides two thrilling excursion trips. Whether or not you are traveling with children, it is a wonderful site to add on your Santa Cruz itinerary.

Steam Train at Roaring Camp Railroad near Santa Cruz, CaliforniaThrough the redwoods, a steam train goes.

The steam engines originate from 1890 and were originally used to carry redwood timber out of the mountains. Occasionally, the corporation may switch to a diesel locomotive.

The Redwood Forest Steam Train begins from Felton and climbs through redwood woods to Bear Mountain’s peak before returning you to Roaring Camp. The guided tour lasts around 75 minutes.

On its approach to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Beach Train passes through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and along the San Lorenzo River Gorge. This is a three-hour adventure that may begin at either end of the course.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online.

Capitola will captivate you.

Capitola is a tiny village on the northern coast of picturesque Monterey Bay, located just southeast of Santa Cruz. Capitola is a popular Central Coast resort with several gorgeous beaches.

Capitola Village CaliforniaCapitola’s vibrant village

Take pictures of Capitola Village’s beautiful façade. Visit the village’s stores and art galleries for some retail therapy. Wine tasting rooms and restaurants with lake views may be found in Capitola Village.

Take a stroll around Capitola City Beach or New Brighton State Beach. Be warned: Capitola Beach is quite crowded throughout the summer and on great weather weekends, and parking might be difficult to get by; arrive early!

More Beaches to Visit South of Santa Cruz!

More gorgeous Santa Cruz County beaches may be found just south of Capitola.

In Aptos, Seacliff State Beach contains a pier and a shipwreck that you may photograph!

Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, CASeacliff State Beach at Sunset

Off the coast of Seacliff Beach is the SS Palo Alto, also known as the Cement Ship. Pelicans and other seabirds may be seen perched atop the wreck, while sea lions come to eat on the fish.

The pier is only partly accessible at the time of writing: the section closest to the wreckage is closed. Although the wreck is restricted to the public, it is visible from the shore.

The beach itself is a lovely place to walk. There are bathrooms and covered picnic tables. Dogs must be on a leash.

Seacliff State Beach is located to the south of Rio del Mar Beach. It is not as congested as some of the other beaches in the vicinity. Sunbathe, picnic, and watch the birds as you walk along the long expanse of beach.

Take advantage of Loch Lomond Recreation Area.

Loch Lomond is a reservoir in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Lompico that holds water for Santa Cruz County inhabitants.

From boating and fishing to picnics and hiking, the Loch Lomond Recreation Area has something for everyone. Swimming is prohibited.

Boat rentals are available at the park. There are electric boats, row boats, paddle boats, and Nucanoes for rent.

A park ranger may also take you on an explanatory tour of the lake. The free excursions on the Newell Jewel pontoon boat are available from 11 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday and second Sunday of each month at the time of writing.

From March 1 to the second weekend in October, Loch Lomond Recreation Area is open. The park’s hours vary, and it is closed on Wednesdays throughout the operational season.

The park costs a $8.00 car admission fee at the time of writing. On trails and at picnic areas, dogs must be on a leash.

Hike at Nisene Marks State Park’s Forest

The Forest of Nisene Marks is a tranquil respite from the bustle of the Santa Cruz coast’s crowded beaches and towns: it seems like a holiday from a vacation!

After decades of harvesting, the state park now features second- and third-growth redwood woods that have recovered. The park is bisected by Aptos Creek.

Redwoods in Nisene Marks State Park near Santa Cruz, CANisene Marks State Park Hiking PC: Summer

Marcel’s Forest is a newly introduced old-growth redwood forest to the park. The Advocate, the park’s biggest tree, is 250 feet tall and has a girth of 45 feet.

The park has 30 miles of paths that are ideal for hiking. On specified routes, you may even cycle or ride horses. Bring a picnic to the stream to enjoy.

The park’s trails range in length and difficulty. Some go to abandoned logging camps, while others meander through redwood forests or ascend slopes to provide ocean vistas.

There is a $8 day-use charge for vehicles. Aptos Creek Fire Road and the four single-track paths below the steel bridge are dog-friendly.

Take a picture of Cove of the Sharks.

Cove of the Sharks, just south of Davenport, is one of the most picturesque places along the Santa Cruz Coast. The rock indeed like a gigantic fin!

Cove of the Sharks near Davenport, CACove of the Sharks

Along Highway 1, about 0.7 mile south of Davenport, the beach turnoff appears. There is no indication. If you see the shark fin from the road, you’ve missed the turn, so go back and search for it.

To get to the bluffs, cross the railroad tracks. The route down to the beach is rather steep, but the road at the top of the cliff, either north or south of the cove, provides excellent views of the fin.

The cove has a sea cave, but the rock is weak, and if you don’t pay attention to the tide times, you can be stuck inside with no way out. Photographing the fin from the bluffs is recommended since the views of the rock are excellent.

Davenport Beach Walk

Landscape photography, strolling, and sunbathing are all popular activities at Davenport Beach. The beach, also known as San Vicente Beach, is known for its stunning cliffs and rock formations.

Davenport Crack, a photo spot on the California coastThe Magnificent Davenport Crack

The Davenport Crack, located on the beach’s south end, is a popular picture location. This fissure in the rocks runs from the beach to the ocean and is particularly beautiful at sunset.

Cross the train tracks and seek for the path leading down to the beach. Dogs must be on a leash.

Ao Nuevo State Park is home to elephant seals.

The trip down California Highway 1 to Ao Nuevo State Park is slightly over 20 miles north of Santa Cruz. The park is one of the greatest areas to watch northern elephant seals along the coast.

Ano Nuevo State Park north of Santa Cruz, CaliforniaElephant seals from the north at Ano Nuevo

A walk along the beach cliffs leads to Ao Nuevo Point, a great spot for birding. You’ll visit Ao Nuevo Island, as well as the remnants of an ancient lighthouse where cormorants may be seen. Look for sea lions, harbor seals, and otters.

Thousands of elephant seals visit this area each year to procreate, give birth, and molt. To observe the seals, you must trek around 3 kilometres. The trek is moderate in difficulty.

While seals may be seen all year, travel between December and March to see if you can see a birth and view the newborn seal pups. During this period, you may only visit via guided tour.

From 8.30 a.m. until sunset, the park is open. Dogs are not allowed. A $10.00 car charge is required.

Pay a visit to the Swanton Berry Farm.

Davenport is home to Swanton Berry Farm. Swanton is noted for its fruit, preserves, and baked products, and was the first strawberry farm in California to be certified organic.

Swanton Berry Farm provides u-pick strawberries from May to October, olallieberries from June to July, and kiwis from November to January, depending on the season.

The farmstand is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Baked goods, jams, fruit, and vegetables are available here. The baked goods and jams are produced using fruit grown on the farm or organic ingredients carefully obtained.

The pies, cobblers, cakes, and truffles are very tasty without being too sugary. The jams are sugar-free.

When visiting Santa Cruz, be sure to stop at Swanton Berry Farm. You won’t want to purchase strawberries at the supermarket after tasting the organic farm-fresh strawberries, lush and luscious!

Santa Cruz, California Hotels

Santa Cruz, California hotels

The Dream Inn Santa Cruz is a seaside facility near to the city center and adjacent to the Boardwalk. Private patios or balconies with spectacular bay views are available in guest rooms and suites. The ocean is reflected in the furnishings. On the deck, there is a pool and a hot tub. Make a reservation here!

The Beach Street Inn and Suites is situated in the heart of Santa Cruz, only a 2-minute walk from Main Beach. A courtyard with picnic tables and an outdoor pool are available on the property. The Beach Street Inn has a spectacular view of Monterey Bay. The rooms are comfortable. Make a reservation here!

The Four Sisters’ West Cliff Inn is situated on West Cliff Drive, across from Cowell’s Beach. Guest rooms with fireplaces and marble-tiled bathrooms are available at this three-story bed and breakfast. Wine and hors d’oeuvres are served throughout the afternoon. Make a reservation here!

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