Fun Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California: Surf, Sun, and Fun

BEST 25 THINGS TO DO IN Santa Cruz, California

Imagine a place where the ocean meets the mountains, and the sun always seems to shine. Santa Cruz, California, is just that place. This vibrant city is known for its stunning coastline, redwood forests, and a rich mix of fun activities.

Santa Cruz has something for everyone, whether you love adventures, nature, or someone who enjoys a laid-back day by the beach.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best fun things to do in Santa Cruz. This guide will take you through the top attractions, family-friendly activities, outdoor adventures, cultural spots, seasonal events, and much more.

We’ll provide insider tips to help you make the most of your visit. From the best times to visit to where to stay and what to eat, you’ll have all the information you need for an unforgettable trip to Santa Cruz. So, pack your bags and discover this lovely coastal city!

Top Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California

1- Watch a Santa Cruz Sunset

One of the most magical things you can do in Santa Cruz is watch the sunset. Natural Bridges State Beach is the perfect spot for this. The beach is famous for its beautiful rock formations and tide pools. As the sun sets, the sky lights up with unique colors, reflecting off the ocean and the rocks.

Santa Cruz Sunset

It’s a peaceful and stunning experience that captures the beauty of nature. Many people bring a picnic to enjoy while they watch. Remember, don’t use your camera; sunset is a great photo opportunity. It’s a simple yet unforgettable way to end your day in Santa Cruz.

Insider Tip: Natural Bridges State Beach offers stunning views.

2- Natural Bridges State Park

Natural Bridges State Park is a must-see in Santa Cruz. It’s known for its unique rock formations that look like natural bridges. The park is also home to wildlife, including monarch butterflies in the fall. Many walking trails let you explore the beautiful scenery.

Natural Bridges State Park

The tide pools are full of interesting sea creatures, making it an excellent place for kids and adults. You can spend hours here just walking around, exploring, and enjoying the peaceful environment. It’s a beautiful place to connect with nature and enjoy fresh air.

Insider Tip: Visit in the fall to see the monarch butterflies.

3- Visit the Unique Campus of UCSC

The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) has a unique campus. It’s located in a forest, giving it a peaceful and natural feel. You can see beautiful trees, open meadows, and fantastic ocean views.

Unique Campus of UCSC

The greenhouse on campus is free and full of different kinds of plants from all over the world. It’s a quiet and relaxing place to visit. UCSC is not just a place for students; it’s an excellent spot for anyone who loves nature and wants to enjoy a quiet walk in a beautiful setting.

Insider Tip: The nursery is free and beautiful.

4- Stroll Around the Downtown Area

Downtown Santa Cruz is a lively and fun place to visit. The main street, Pacific Avenue, has shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can find everything from unique local stores to big-name brands.

It’s a great place to walk around, shop, and enjoy a meal. Many events and festivals are held downtown throughout the year, making it an exciting place to visit anytime. The downtown area is the heart of Santa Cruz and a must-see for visitors.

Insider Tip: Pacific Avenue is the main street with lots of shops.

5- Go to Swanton Berry Farm

Swanton Berry Farm is a charming and fun place to visit. You can pick your strawberries, a fun activity for the whole family. The farm also has a small store where you can buy homemade jams, pies, and other treats.

strawberry shortcake

One of the highlights is their delicious strawberry shortcake. The farm is in a beautiful area, a great place to relax and enjoy fresh air. It’s a wonderful spot for a family outing and tasting some of the best strawberries.

Insider Tip: Try their homemade strawberry shortcake.

6- See the Sea Lions

One of the most exciting things to do in Santa Cruz is to see the sea lions. The best place to spot them is at the Santa Cruz Wharf. The sea lions like to rest on the beams under the harbor, and you can hear them barking from a distance.

See the Sea Lions

Watching these large, playful animals in their natural habitat is fascinating. Seeing the sea lions is a fun and memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

Insider Tip: The wharf is an excellent place to spot them.

7- Visit the Mystery Spot

The Mystery Spot is a strange and fun place to visit. It’s a place where the laws of physics seem to go crazy. Objects appear to roll uphill, and people seem to stand at impossible.

 Mystery Spot

The tours are entertaining and full of exciting information about the site. It’s a great place to visit with family and will surely be your trip’s highlight. Please book your tickets beforehand, as it’s a stunning attraction.

Insider Tip: Book tickets online ahead of time.

8- Go for a Coastal Hike

Wilder Ranch State Park offers some of the best coastal hiking trails in Santa Cruz. The park has miles of trails that take you along the beautiful coastline, through fields of wildflowers, and into quiet forests.

The ocean views are stunning, and you can often see seals and other wildlife along the way. The trails range from easy walks to more challenging hikes, so there’s something for everyone.

Insider Tip: Wilder Ranch State Park has great trails.

9- Take an Instagram Photo at the Davenport Swing

The Davenport Swing is a fun and unique place to visit. It’s a giant swing set up on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The views from the swing are incredible, and it’s a spot for taking photos.

Davenport Swing

However, be careful, as the swing is private and dangerous. It’s a beautiful spot to visit, but safety is always put first. If you’re you’re, you can get some fantastic photos and enjoy the stunning views of the ocean.

Insider Tip: Be careful; the swing is not official and can be dangerous.

10- Take a Trip to Capitola Village

Capitola Village is a charming and colorful seaside town just a short drive from Santa Cruz. There are also many shops, restaurants, and cafes to explore. You can spend the day walking around, enjoying the beach and the lovely scenery.

Capitola Village

It’s a perfect place for a relaxing day trip. The village has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making it an excellent spot for families and couples.

Insider Tip: The colorful houses make for great photos.

11- Visit Berry Creek Falls

Berry Creek Falls is a beautiful Big Basin Redwoods State Park waterfall. The hike to the falls is long and challenging, but it’s worth the effort. The trail takes you through lush forests, babbling streams, and finally to the stunning waterfall.

Berry Creek Falls

The falls are surrounded by tall redwoods, creating a peaceful and magical setting. It’s a great place to take a break, have a picnic, and enjoy the beauty of nature. Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as the hike can be challenging.

Insider Tip: It’s a lIt’shike, so wear comfortable shoes.

12- Hit the Beach

Santa Cruz is known for its beautiful beaches, with plenty to choose from. Main Beach, located near the Boardwalk, is a great family spot. The beach is wide and sandy, with gentle waves perfect for swimming and playing.

Plenty of amenities are nearby, including restaurants, shops, and restrooms. It’s a great place to spend a day in the sun, building sandcastles, playing in the water, and enjoying the lively atmosphere. The beach is a must-visit for anyone coming to Santa Cruz.

Insider Tip: Main Beach is great for families.

13- Go Dolphin or Whale Watching

Santa Cruz is a fantastic place to go dolphin or whale watching. The waters off the coast are home to many different species of whales and dolphins, and you can see them throughout the year. The best time to go is from March to November when you have the highest chance of spotting humpback whales, blue whales, and even orcas.

Dolphin or Whale Watching

Several local tour operators offer boat trips to the bay, where experienced guides help you spot these fantastic creatures. Besides whales, you might also see dolphins playing in the waves, sea otters, and many seabirds.

The tours are educational and provide insight into marine life and conservation. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is a thrilling experience and a highlight of any trip to Santa Cruz.

Insider Tip: March to November is the best time.

14- Browse Bookshop Santa Cruz

Bookshop Santa Cruz is a beloved local bookstore with a rich history and a vibrant community presence. This independent bookstore in downtown Santa Cruz offers various books, from popular bestsellers to rare and unique finds. The cozy, welcoming atmosphere makes it a great place to browse and discover new reads.

The store frequently hosts author events, readings, and book signings, attracting literary enthusiasts from near and far. A dedicated children’s also makes it a fun stop for families. Whether you’re a bibliophile or just looking for a quiet place to relax, Bookshop Santa Cruz is a must-visit.

Insider Tip: Check out their author events.

15- Catch a Summer Concert at the Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a historic amusement park and a fantastic venue for live music. During the summer months, the Boardwalk hosts free concerts on Friday nights featuring a variety of musical genres and artists. The concerts take place on an outdoor stage with the beach and ocean as the backdrop, creating a perfect setting for a summer evening.

The events attract locals and tourists, offering a lively and friendly atmosphere. Before the concert, you can enjoy the rides, games, and food at the Boardwalk.

Summer Concert at the Boardwalk

After the show, the fun continues with the vibrant nightlife in the area. These concerts highlight the summer season in Santa Cruz and offer a great way to enjoy live music in a unique and beautiful setting.

Insider Tip: Concerts are free on Friday nights.

16- Watch a Film at the Del Mar Theatre

The Del Mar Theatre in downtown Santa Cruz is a historic and charming movie theater that offers a unique movie-going experience. The theater often screens new releases, independent films, and classic movies, providing something for every movie lover.

The art deco architecture and cozy interior enhance the theater’theater’sic charm. Watching a film here feels like stepping back into the golden age of cinema. The theater hosts special events, including film festivals and themed movie nights. It’s a place to relax and enjoy a movie, whether you’re a buff or just looking for a fun evening out.

Insider Tip: They often show classic movies.

17- Go Wine Tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The Santa Cruz Mountains have many excellent wineries, offering a delightful wine-tasting experience. The region’s climate and diverse soils produce various wines, from rich reds to crisp whites. Many wineries have tasting rooms with beautiful mountains and ocean views, providing a picturesque setting in which to enjoy wine.

 Santa Cruz Mountains

Many wineries offer tours of their vineyards and cellars, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process. Wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains is a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover new wines and support local producers.

Insider Tip: Look for wineries with views of the ocean.

18- See a Show in the Forest by Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Santa Cruz Shakespeare is a renowned theater company that performs plays in an outdoor setting at the Audrey Stanley Grove in Delaveaga Park. The natural surroundings of the redwood forest create a magical and intimate atmosphere for enjoying live theater.

 Forest by Santa Cruz Shakespeare

The company stages various Shakespearean plays and works by other classic and contemporary playwrights. The performances are high-quality and engaging, attracting theater enthusiasts from near and far.

Watching a show under the stars, surrounded by nature, is a unique and memorable experience. Be sure to bring a blanket and warm clothes, as the evenings can relax.

Insider Tip: Bring a blanket for cooler evenings.

19- Visit the Bigfoot Discovery Museum

The Bigfoot Discovery Museum is a fun and quirky attraction in Felton, near Santa Cruz. The museum is dedicated to the legend of Bigfoot, featuring exhibits on sightings, evidence, and the cultural impact of this mysterious creature.

 Bigfoot Discovery Museum

The museum is small but packed with interesting information and artifacts, making it a fascinating stop for anyone interested in cryptozoology or local legends. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to share stories and answer questions.

It’s a place to learn about the local lore and spark a new interest in the mystery of Bigfoot.

Insider Tip: It’s quiIt’sandquiIt’s fun and great for kids.

20- Take Some Photos at Walton Lighthouse

Walton Lighthouse, located at the entrance of Santa Cruz Harbor, is a picturesque spot perfect for photography. The lighthouse is charming and offers stunning views of the harbor, the ocean, and the coastline.

 Walton Lighthouse

It’s a perfect place for amateur and professional photographers, especially during sunrise and sunset, when the lighting is ideal. The surrounding area is also beautiful, with sandy beaches and rocky outcrops. Whether taking photos or enjoying the scenery, Walton Lighthouse is a lovely place to visit and capture memorable moments.

Insider Tip: Early morning or late afternoon for the best light.

21- Visit a Marine Discovery Centre

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz is an educational and interactive place to learn about marine science and conservation. The center has a variety of exhibits on aquatic life, ocean ecosystems, and the research being done by scientists at the nearby University of California, Santa Cruz.

Visitors can see live marine animals, touch sharks, and learn about the importance of protecting our oceans. The center also offers guided tours, special programs, and hands-on activities for kids. It’s an excellent place for families to explore and learn while having fun.

Insider Tip: The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is interactive and educational.

Top Things to Do in Santa Cruz with Family

1- Roaring Camp Railroads

Take a ride on the Roaring Camp Railroads steam train, a hit with kids and adults alike. The train travels through the beautiful redwoods, offering the whole family a unique and memorable experience.

Roaring Camp Railroads

The journey takes you back, providing a glimpse into the area’s history. Along the way, knowledgeable guides share stories and facts about the redwoods and the history of the railroad.

It’s a fun and educational adventure that everyone will enjoy. Check the schedule for special events and themed rides throughout the year.

2- Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery

The Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery has interactive exhibits that engage young minds. It’s a fantastic place for children to learn and play, with hands-on activities stimulating curiosity and creativity.

The museum offers a variety of exhibits on science, art, and technology, providing a well-rounded educational experience. Kids can explore different zones, each designed to encourage exploration and discovery.

It’s an excellent destination for a family day out, offering endless opportunities for fun and learning. The museum hosts workshops and special events, so check their calendar for upcoming activities.

3- Seymour Marine Discovery Center

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center offers interactive exhibits and educational programs about marine life. It’s a wonderful place for families to learn about the ocean and its inhabitants, with plenty of opportunities for hands-on exploration.

Visitors can touch sea stars, see sharks up close, and learn about the research conducted by marine scientists. The center also features outdoor exhibits and a scenic overlook with ocean views and coastline views.

It’s an inspiring destination that fosters a deeper appreciation for marine conservation and the natural world. Plan your visit to coincide with one of their guided tours or educational programs.

4- Santa Cruz Wharf

The Santa Cruz Wharf is a bustling hub of activity. Visitors can spot sea lions, enjoy fresh seafood, and explore various shops and restaurants. It’s an excellent place for a stroll and to take in the vibrant atmosphere of Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Wharf

The wharf offers numerous dining options, from casual eateries to fine dining, all with stunning ocean views. Fishing enthusiasts can try to catch local fish from the designated fishing areas.

Whether you’re looking to shop for souvenirs, enjoy a delicious meal, or soak up the sun, the Santa Cruz Wharf has something for everyone.

Outdoor and Adventure Activities

1- Coastal Hikes at Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park offers coastal hikes with stunning ocean views. The trails cater to all skill levels, making it a great destination for novice and experienced hikers. The scenic beauty of the park is truly captivating.

You’ll encounter historic buildings, grazing cattle, and diverse wildlife along the trails. The park’s coastal bluffs provide breathtaking ocean views and surrounding landscapes. It’s an ideal spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Pack a picnic and enjoy your meal at one of the park’s beautiful picnic spots.

2- Kayaking at Elkhorn Slough

Kayaking at Elkhorn Slough provides an opportunity to see sea otters, birds, and other wildlife up close. It’s a peaceful and scenic adventure that allows you to connect with nature while paddling through the calm waters.

Kayaking at Elkhorn Slough

The slough is one of California’s most extensive wetlands and a critical habitat for numerous species. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about the ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, Elkhorn Slough offers a unique and memorable experience. Bring your binoculars to look at the diverse bird species that call the slough home.

3- Mountain Biking in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The Santa Cruz Mountains are a haven for mountain biking enthusiasts. Riders can enjoy thrilling descents and beautiful landscapes with trails suitable for various skill levels. It’s an adventure that offers both excitement and natural beauty.

The region is known for its diverse trail network, ranging from smooth, flowing trails to technical, challenging routes. Riders can experience the thrill of navigating through lush forests and scenic vistas.

It’s a popular destination for both locals and mountain bikers who are visiting. Make sure to check trail conditions and maps before heading out to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.

4- Zip-Lining at Mount Hermon Adventures

Mount Hermon Adventures offers exhilarating zip-lining experiences. Fly through the treetops and savor the breathtaking views. It’s a must-do for adrenaline seekers and a fantastic way to see the beauty of the forest from a different perspective.

The zip-lining course includes multiple lines, suspension bridges, and repels, providing a comprehensive aerial adventure. Knowledgeable guides ensure safety and provide interesting facts about the surrounding environment.

It’s an exciting activity for families, groups, or solo adventurers looking for a unique experience. Book in advance to secure your spot and prepare for an unforgettable adventure.

Top Attractions in Santa Cruz

1- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a traditional seaside amusement park that provides enjoyment for people of all ages. With its historic Giant Dipper roller coaster and numerous rides, it’s a place where nostalgia meets excitement.

Families can enjoy a day of rides, games, and delicious boardwalk treats. The Boardwalk also hosts events and concerts, making it a lively and entertaining spot throughout the year. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just looking to relax by the beach, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has something for everyone.

Don’t forget to try the famous funnel cakes and corn dogs while you’re there!

2- West Cliff Drive

West Cliff Drive is a scenic route offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s perfect for a leisurely drive, walk, or bike ride. The views are spectacular at sunset, attracting photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Along the route are benches and lookout points perfect for pausing to admire the coastline’s beauty. The path is well-kept and easy to navigate, suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. Keep an eye out for surfers and wildlife, as it’s common to see dolphins and sea otters playing in the waves.

3- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the world. The serene environment provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can explore the Redwood Grove Loop Trail, which offers an up-close view of these majestic trees.

The park also features a visitor center with educational exhibits about the redwoods and local wildlife. Pack a picnic and enjoy a meal surrounded by the natural beauty of the towering redwoods.

4- Natural Bridges State Park

At Natural Bridges State Park, you can witness the stunning natural arch formations and explore tide pools teeming with marine life. Visit in the fall to see the park’s famous monarch butterfly migration, a truly magical sight.

The park offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and a beautiful sandy beach. It’s a perfect spot for a day of outdoor fun and relaxation. The tide pools are filled with fascinating creatures like starfish, crabs, and sea anemones, making it an exciting destination for curious minds.

  • Remember to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife.

5- The Mystery Spot

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly that defies the laws of physics. Visitors can experience mind-bending phenomena and optical illusions. It’s a fun and quirky attraction that will leave you scratching your head in wonder.

Guided tours explain the strange occurrences and offer entertaining demonstrations of the spot’s unique effects. The Mystery Spot also has a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and snacks.

It’s a must-visit for those who enjoy the unusual and unexplained. Book your tickets in advance to secure your spot and enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience.

Seasonal Events and Festivals

Wharf to Wharf Race

The Wharf to Wharf Race is a major local event held in July. This scenic race attracts runners from all over, offering a fun and festive atmosphere. It’s a great way to experience the community spirit of Santa Cruz. The race route follows a beautiful coastal path, providing stunning views and a supportive crowd of spectators.

Participants of all ages and abilities are welcome, making it an inclusive and enjoyable event. After the race, runners can celebrate with live music, food, and festivities. It’s a must-attend event for locals and visitors looking to experience Santa Cruz’s vibrant community.

Capitola Art and Wine Festival

The Capitola Art and Wine Festival in September showcases local artists and wineries. It’s a vibrant event filled with art, music, and delicious wine, making it a favorite among locals and visitors. The festival takes place in the charming village of Capitola, providing a picturesque setting.

Attendees can browse a variety of art exhibits, taste local wines, and enjoy live performances. It’s a fantastic opportunity to support local artists and businesses while enjoying a day of cultural enrichment. Don’t miss the chance to experience the creative spirit of Santa Cruz at this beloved festival.

Santa Cruz Film Festival

The Santa Cruz Film Festival in October celebrates independent films. It’s an exciting event for movie lovers, featuring screenings, discussions, and opportunities to meet filmmakers. The festival showcases a diverse selection of films, from documentaries to short films, highlighting the talents of independent filmmakers.

Attendees can participate in Q&A sessions, panel discussions, and special events, making it an immersive and engaging experience. The festival venues are located throughout Santa Cruz, allowing visitors to explore different parts of the city.

Whether you’re a film enthusiast or simply looking for something new to do, the Santa Cruz Film Festival offers a unique and enjoyable experience.

Nightlife and Entertainment in Santa Cruz

Live Music at the Catalyst Club

The Catalyst Club is a premier venue for live music in Santa Cruz. Check their website for the schedule and enjoy performances by local and touring artists. It’s a hotspot for music lovers. The club features multiple stages, hosting a variety of genres and acts, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

The intimate setting allows for an up-close and personal concert experience. With a lively atmosphere and excellent acoustics, the Catalyst Club is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys live music in Santa Cruz. Be sure to see your favorite bands and discover new music at this iconic venue.

Comedy Shows at DNA’s Comedy Lab

DNA’s Comedy Lab hosts comedy shows featuring big-name comedians and local talent. It’s a fantastic place for a night of laughter and entertainment, offering a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The venue also hosts improv shows, open mic nights, and special events, providing diverse comedy experiences.

With its cozy seating and friendly vibe, DNA’s Comedy Lab is a great place to unwind and enjoy a good laugh. Be sure to check their schedule for upcoming shows and events. It’s a perfect spot for a date night, a night out with friends, or to enjoy some quality comedy.

Food and Drink in Santa Cruz

Best Seafood Restaurants

Santa Cruz is known for its excellent seafood. Stagnaro Bros on the wharf is a must-visit for fresh and delicious seafood dishes, offering an authentic ocean taste. The restaurant offers a variety of seafood options, ranging from classic fish and chips to gourmet seafood platters.

With its waterfront location, diners can enjoy stunning ocean views while savoring their meal. The casual and welcoming atmosphere makes it a great spot for families and couples. Try their famous clam chowder and seafood pasta for a delightful culinary experience.

Unique Coffee Shops

Santa Cruz has a thriving coffee culture. Verve Coffee Roasters is a standout, known for its high-quality brews and inviting atmosphere. It’s a perfect spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee. The shop sources its beans from sustainable farms, ensuring a rich and flavorful coffee experience.

The modern and cozy interior provides a great setting for meeting friends, working, or simply unwinding. Verve also offers a selection of pastries and snacks to complement your coffee. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or just looking for a good cup of joe, Verve Coffee Roasters is a must-visit.

Local Breweries

Explore the local craft beer scene at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. They offer a range of great craft beers in a friendly and relaxed setting. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the local flavors. The brewery is known for its organic and sustainably produced beers, featuring a variety of styles from hoppy IPAs to smooth stouts.

Visitors can sample different brews in the tasting room or enjoy a pint in the outdoor beer garden. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is a favorite among locals and tourists with its laid-back vibe and delicious beers. Don’t miss their seasonal and specialty brews for a unique tasting experience.

Where to Stay in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Airbnb

For a unique stay, consider booking a Santa Cruz Airbnb. Options like treehouses provide a memorable experience, combining comfort with a touch of adventure. These unique accommodations offer a different perspective on the natural beauty of Santa Cruz.

From cozy cabins in the redwoods to beachfront apartments, an Airbnb suits every preference. Staying in an Airbnb allows you to experience the local lifestyle and explore hidden gems. It’s a great way to have a personalized and unforgettable stay in Santa Cruz.

  • Book early, especially during peak seasons, to secure the best spots.

Inn at Pasatiempo

The Inn at Pasatiempo is located near a golf course, offering a peaceful and scenic setting. It’s a great place to stay if you enjoy golfing and relaxing in a beautiful environment. The inn features comfortable rooms, a pool, and an on-site restaurant, providing all the amenities for a pleasant stay.

Inn at Pasatiempo

The serene surroundings make it an ideal retreat for those looking to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Santa Cruz. Guests can enjoy the nearby golf course and explore the local attractions. It’s a perfect blend of relaxation and recreation.

The Dream Inn

The Dream Inn offers oceanfront rooms with stunning views. It’s a luxurious and comfortable place to stay, providing easy access to the beach and other attractions. The hotel features modern amenities, including a pool, restaurant, and beachfront access, ensuring a delightful stay.

The Dream Inn

The stylish and spacious rooms offer breathtaking ocean views, making it a perfect spot for a romantic getaway or family vacation. Guests can enjoy the convenience of being close to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and other local attractions. The Dream Inn perfectly blends comfort, luxury, and location.

A Cabin in the Redwoods

For a peaceful getaway, consider staying in a cabin in the redwoods. It’s a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, offering tranquility and natural beauty. These cabins provide a cozy and rustic retreat, surrounded by towering redwood trees.

Cabin in the Redwoods

It’s an ideal setting for relaxation and reconnecting with nature. Guests can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, bird-watching, and stargazing, all from the comfort of their cabin. The serene environment offers a perfect opportunity to unwind and enjoy the simple pleasures of nature.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a family adventure, a cabin in the redwoods is a beautiful choice.

Practical Travel Information

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit **Santa Cruz** is in the spring and fall. These seasons offer mild weather and fewer crowds, making exploring and enjoying the attractions ideal. Spring brings blooming flowers and pleasant temperatures, perfect for outdoor activities.

Fall offers warm days and cool nights, along with beautiful autumn foliage. These off-peak seasons also provide better availability and rates for accommodations and attractions. Summer is famous for beach activities, but it can be crowded. Winter is mild but can be rainy. Plan your visit according to your preferences and enjoy the best of Santa Cruz.

How to Get to Santa Cruz from San Francisco

To get to Santa Cruz from San Francisco, take Highway 1 for a scenic drive. The route offers beautiful coastal views and is a pleasant journey to the city. The drive takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic.

Alternatively, you can take Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains, a faster route but less scenic. Public transportation options include buses and trains, although they may require transfers and longer travel times.

Renting a car provides the most flexibility and convenience for exploring Santa Cruz and its surrounding areas. Enjoy the scenic drive and plan stops at viewpoints along the way.

How to Get Around Santa Cruz

Biking is a popular way to get around Santa Cruz, with many rental shops available downtown. It’s an eco-friendly and enjoyable way to explore the city. The city features numerous bike lanes and trails, making it easy and safe to navigate by bike.

Consider using the local bus system, which covers significant attractions and neighborhoods for longer distances or convenience. Walking is also an excellent option for exploring downtown and the beach areas.

If you prefer driving, rental cars are available, and plenty of parking options exist throughout the city. Choose the mode of transportation that best suits your needs and enjoy exploring Santa Cruz.

Health and Wellness in Santa Cruz

Yoga Classes by theBeach

Join yoga classes by the beach for a peaceful and rejuvenating experience. Many local instructors offer free community classes, providing an opportunity to practice yoga in a beautiful setting. These classes cater to all levels, from beginners to experienced practitioners, and focus on relaxation and mindfulness.

Practicing yoga with the sound of the waves and the fresh ocean breeze enhances the experience, making it a unique and refreshing activity. Check local listings and community boards for class schedules and locations. Bring a mat and enjoy the serene environment as you stretch and strengthen your body and mind.

Spas and Wellness Centers

Santa Cruz boasts several spas and wellness centers, such as **Well Within Spa**, which offers relaxing hot tubs and massages. It’s a perfect place to unwind and rejuvenate. The spa features private rooms with hot tubs, saunas, and various massage options, ensuring a personalized and relaxing experience.

Wellness centers in the area also offer holistic treatments, including acupuncture, aromatherapy, and meditation classes. These services provide a comprehensive health and well-being approach, helping you relax and recharge. Treat yourself to a day of pampering and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of Santa Cruz’s wellness centers.

Local Shopping and Markets

Downtown Boutiques

Downtown Santa Cruz is home to charming boutiques featuring local artists and crafts. It’s a great place to shop for unique gifts and souvenirs. The vibrant shopping district offers a variety of stores, from clothing and accessories to home décor and handmade crafts.

Many shops showcase the work of local artisans, providing a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Strolling through downtown, you’ll find an array of specialty shops and galleries, each with a distinct character.

It’s a perfect way to support local businesses and find unique treasures. Take your time exploring the boutiques and enjoy the friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Antique Shops

Visit Center Street Antiques for unique finds and a trip down memory lane. This antique shop offers various vintage items, from furniture and collectibles to jewelry and artwork. It’s a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts and those looking for unique pieces with history and character.

The shop features multiple vendors, each offering a curated selection of antiques and vintage goods. Whether searching for a specific item or browsing, you’re sure to discover something special. Antique shopping in Santa Cruz provides a delightful and nostalgic experience, perfect for those who appreciate the charm of bygone eras.

Santa Cruz Farmers Market

The Santa Cruz Farmers Market is held every Wednesday, offering fresh produce and local products. It’s a vibrant market where you can find everything from fruits and vegetables to artisanal goods. The market features a variety of vendors, showcasing the best of Santa Cruz’s local agriculture and craftsmanship.

Visitors can enjoy live music, delicious food stalls, and a lively community atmosphere. It’s a great place to support local farmers and businesses while enjoying fresh, seasonal products. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the flavors of Santa Cruz and bring home some high-quality, locally sourced goods.


Santa Cruz, California, is a destination that offers something for everyone. From its stunning natural landscapes to its rich cultural heritage, there is no shortage of fun and exciting things to do in Santa Cruz. Families, adventure seekers, and history enthusiasts will all find something to love in this charming coastal town. With its welcoming community and diverse attractions, Santa Cruz is where unforgettable memories are made.

Plan your visit to Santa Cruz and discover why it’s such a beloved destination. With its combination of outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, and vibrant events, there’s always something new to experience. Whether staying in a cozy cabin in the redwoods or a luxurious oceanfront hotel, you’ll find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs.

Don’t forget to explore the local food and drink scene, with its excellent seafood, unique coffee shops, and craft breweries. Santa Cruz promises an unforgettable experience, so pack your bags and get ready to explore all the beautiful things this charming town has to offer!


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