Things to Do in Santa Cruz – Natural and Historical Attractions That Will Blow Your Mind

If you’re looking for things to do in Santa Cruz, you’ll find lots of attractions to explore. Its beautiful beaches and world-famous redwoods make Santa Cruz a nature lover’s paradise. Besides, it has plenty of monuments and places for families to have fun!

things to do in santa cruz

Things to Do in Downtown Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz’s lively downtown is a great place to start your visit. Stroll along the historic Santa Cruz Boardwalk, check out the Museum of Art & History, or explore one of the many shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for things to do in Santa Cruz downtown, here are a few places to go.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

This world-famous seaside amusement park is the perfect place to spend a day with family or friends. With its wooden roller coaster, carousel, and Ferris wheel, the Boardwalk is sure to please everyone. You only pay once ($30 to $60 plus tax) for a wristband to enjoy unlimited rides for the day.

Museum of Art & History

The Museum of Art & History is a great place to learn about Santa Cruz history and culture. General admission is $10, and there are often festivals held there free of charge. The museum also has a café, gift shop, and garden.

Mission Santa Cruz 1971

Founded in 1791, Mission Santa Cruz was the 12th mission established in California. Today, the site is a state park with a museum that tells the story of the mission and its people.

Neary Lagoon Park

This park is a great place for families with young children. It has two playgrounds, picnic tables, BBQ pits, and a lagoon wildlife refuge where you can see ducks and geese.

Things to Do in Santa Cruz – Suburbs

In addition to the downtown area, there are several suburbs and surrounding areas that offer things to do in Santa Cruz. For example, you could visit the University of California Santa Cruz campus, take a day trip to the bay, or explore one of the many state parks in the area.

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University of California Santa Cruz

Founded in 1965, UC Santa Cruz is a public university with a beautiful campus. It’s known for its academic excellence, and it’s also home to the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

Monterey Bay

The Monterey Bay is one of the most popular places to see in Santa Cruz. Take a drive down Highway One to enjoy the stunning views, or go whale watching, kayaking, or fishing.

Seymour Marine Discovery Center

This marine research and education center is a great place to learn about the Monterey Bay. It has an aquarium, touch tanks with sharks and starfish, and exhibits – for example, one of the largest displayed skeletons of a blue whale. Tickets are $11 for adults and $8 for children.

Natural Beauty around Santa Cruz

Are you a nature lover looking for things to do in Santa Cruz? For breathtaking views, head to the Santa Cruz Mountains, then return with the beach train at Roaring Camp Railroads. Or, you could drive along Highway One to see the stunning California coastline. What is Santa Cruz known for when it comes to nature?

The Beaches

Santa Cruz is famous for its beaches, and for good reason! With over 30 miles of coastline, there’s a beach or pier to suit everyone’s taste.

One example is Cowell Beach, which is great for swimming. It’s home to the Santa Cruz Wharf with boat tours, fishing spots, and good tides for surfers. You might see some sea lions resting there, or dolphins swimming around!

You could also take the West Cliff Drive to the Natural Bridges State Beach, where you can see tide pools and thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies.

Seabright Beach, on the other hand, is perfect for a relaxing sunset stroll on sand. The Lighthouse Field State Beach is another place for that, and it’s also home to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.

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The Redwood Forests

Another must-see natural attraction near Santa Cruz are the redwoods. The Giant Sequoia trees in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park are some of the tallest on Earth, and you can even go camping among them!

For hiking and picnicking, check out Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which is the oldest state park in California.

Wilder Ranch State Park

This coastal state park is a great place to go for a nature hike or bike ride. With over 35 miles of trails, you can explore the meadows, forests, and coastline. You can also take a tour of the historic ranch buildings, some of which date back to 1868.

The Mystery Spot – Experience a Gravitational Anomaly

The Mystery Spot deserves a separate mention. It’s a place where the laws of physics seem to be defied. For example, people appear to be taller than they are, and objects seem to roll uphill.

How does it work? The tour guides say it may have something to do with an ancient meteorite or spaceship, leaving an area of mysterious forces. Psychologists may offer a more mundane explanation, though. It’s definitely an experience you won’t forget!

Things to Do in Santa Cruz at Night

In addition to all the things to do in Santa Cruz during the day, the city also has a lot to offer at night. For example, you could take a haunted tour at Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters. You’ll visit haunted locations around the city and learn about their history.

For traditional entertainment, visit one of the many bars or clubs, or go see a show at the Rio Theatre. Santa Cruz also has several bars and breweries downtown, as well as a wine bar and live music venues. And if you don’t mind a road trip, you could also go stargazing at the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, a 1.5-hour drive away from Santa Cruz.

Where to Stay and Eat in Santa Cruz?

There are several hotels and motels to choose from in Santa Cruz, depending on your budget:

  • The Dream Inn is a popular choice for its beachfront location and stunning views.
  • The Best Western Plus All Suites Inn is another option, especially if you’re looking for a place with kitchenettes and an outdoor pool.
  • Cliff Crest Bed and Breakfast is a good choice if you’re looking for something more intimate and romantic.
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For food, Santa Cruz has everything from fine dining to casual cafés. For a quick bite, stop by one of the many sandwich shops or burrito places. Some popular places to eat include:

  • The Penny Ice Creamery, which has artisanal ice cream;
  • The Crow’s Nest, which is a seafood restaurant with ocean views;
  • The Shadowbrook Restaurant with an elegant ambiance and award-winning wine list;
  • La Posta for authentic Italian cuisine.

Santa Cruz Is the Perfect Destination for Outdoor Activities

If you’re looking for things to do in Santa Cruz, you won’t be disappointed. With its beaches, redwoods, and state parks, there’s something for everyone. And at night, you can enjoy the city’s nightlife or go stargazing.

Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, Santa Cruz is sure to have something to keep you entertained. And if you’d like to see another fun place in the area, give Felton a shot!


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