Santa Cruz, Ca., is known for its natural scenic beauty and one-of-a-kind beaches. Whether you’re spending the night on your way to Monterey or Big Sur, or you’re planning a weekend getaway, there are many diverse attractions, and small businesses to patronize. Here are some of the best places to go the next time you visit Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk:
Opened in 1907, one of the most iconic attractions is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It’s the oldest seaside amusement park in the world. The Boardwalk is fun for all ages and features retro rides and a vibrant atmosphere. Here you’ll experience fabulous fair food, and indoor miniature golf course, roller coaster rides, an indoor arcade, and games.
Pacific Avenue is home to many local thrift shops and boutiques. Stores like Cognito Clothing and Moon Zoom carry one-of-a-kind items you won’t find anywhere else. Downtown Santa Cruz is an eclectic scene complete with quirky vintage finds and stunning handmade jewelry.
Santa Cruz is considered the real surf city and earned an award from the royal family of Hawaii in 1885. There are several locations in the area that offer surfing lessons, scuba diving, whale watching, or kayaking.
Big Basin State Park:
Locals and tourists love hiking among the redwoods at Big Basin State Park. There are over 80 miles of trails and year-round waterfalls. Weekend shuttles are available provided by the Santa Cruz Metro Station for free. It’s a beautiful park for bird watching and scoping out the canyons.
On the first Friday of each month, local business owners allow artists to use their space to display their work. It’s a great opportunity for talented artists to promote their work to the community. Admission is free on the first Friday of the month to the Museum of Art & History where they host cocktails, live music, and activities suitable for all ages.
Roaring Camp Railroads:
Take an adventure on any one of these 19th-century trains roaring through the city of Felton to Santa Cruz. Some routes go down the San Lorenzo River Gorge and up Bear Mountain. There are festivals held their year-round, Thomas and Percy’s Halloween Party event, a Mother’s Day Brunch, gift shops, and modern railroad exhibits. There is plenty of relaxing space available for reunions, birthday parties, or weddings.
Santa Cruz Wharf:
The longest pier along the west coast is the Santa Cruz Wharf. Sight-seers flock here to visit sea lions, dine of fresh seafood, take a boat tour, or rent a kayak. You can stroll down the pier and take in the views of the ocean and the Boardwalk. At the end of the long stretch, visit Marini’s Santa Cruz’s Candy Shop for locally handmade favorites.
Natural Bridges State Beach:
This world-renowned state beach is famous for its yearly migration of monarch butterflies. It offers the best vantage point for watching seals sunbathe or viewing migrating whales or shorebirds. When the tides are low, you’ll experience sea stars and other colorful ocean life. Visitors love to boogie board, swim, and surf at Natural Bridges. There are several excellent hotels near Natural Bridges State Beach including the Hyatt Place Santa Cruz. This hotel offers the perfect blend of modern comforts and the laid-back surf scene.