santa cruz attractions
Beach & Bay

14 Top Santa Cruz, CA Attractions Everyone Loves

(Last Updated On: April 9, 2021)

Santa Cruz has many attractions for adventure lovers in California, USA. This quintessential California seaside city is synonymous with solar, sand, and summertime enjoyable. Most vacationers head straight for the boardwalk and do not get a lot farther than the close by sandy seashores and fishing pier. Nevertheless, Santa Cruz has a lot of extra to supply travellers with attractions.

Spectacular nature websites, the historic mission church, and a captivating downtown reward guests who discover additional Santa Cruz attractions. Take a drive alongside the attractive shoreline and cease to take in the wonderful ocean views. Spot seals frolicking within the deep blue waters of Monterey Bay and watches surfers journey the crashing waves of the Pacific.

What are the top Santa Cruz attractions

Go mountaineering within the rugged, unspoiled Wilder Ranch State Park and uncover extraordinary crops within the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum full of attractions. For fascinating cultural expertise, attend a Shakespeare efficiency on a starry evening in a magical redwood glen. For extra concepts, learn our listing of the highest issues to do in Santa Cruz that renders a lot of attractions.

1. Santa Cruz Seashore Boardwalk

For traditional summertime enjoyable, head to the enduring Santa Cruz Seashore Boardwalk attractions, the place you can see rides, video games, and points of interest that may please all ages.

There is no such thing as a cost to enter the expansive seaside amusement park, and you may resolve between wristband entry or ticketed journey admission, a pleasant possibility for households on a price range or those that should not stay the entire day.

The park overlooks the sandy shores of Monterey Bay and has been delighting guests since 1907. It is thought of probably the greatest seaside amusement parks on this planet due to its unbelievable setting and historic curler coaster rides just like the Big Dipper, a picket coaster inbuilt 1924, which has to grow to be a landmark in Santa Cruz with evergreen attractions.

Amusements embody thrill rides, household rides, and kiddie rides, with a very good mixture of basic and fashionable designs to go well with each style.

Along with the rides, the boardwalk has an enormous number of points of interest, actions, free leisure, and eating choices. You can find a number of arcades which might be residence to each basic and fashionable video games, air hockey, skee ball, and different conventional arcade video games.

Different main points of interest embody a laser tag environment, mini-golf, bowling, a climbing tower, and the Fright Stroll Beneath the Boardwalk the place it is all the time Halloween. The boardwalk can be stuffed with meals distributors, the place you may deal with your self to goodies like corn canines, deep-fried artichokes, chocolate-coated ice-cream, cotton sweet, and saltwater taffy.

Tackle: 400 Seashore Avenue, Santa Cruz, California

Official web site:

2. Predominant Seashore & Cowell Seashore

Moreover the boardwalk, the principle purpose to go to Santa Cruz is the seaside. The sunny Mediterranean climate, sandy shores, and protected waters make Santa Cruz probably the greatest seaside locations in northern California.

Guests can select from a number of wonderful seashores; the 2 hottest are Predominant Seashore, adjoining to the Boardwalk, and Cowell Seashore, which is subsequent to Predominant Seashore on the opposite aspect of the wharf.

Predominant seaside is the place to go for sunbathing and swimming. It is a spot the place youngsters could make sandcastles and safely wade within the waters, and volleyball gamers can make the most of the sand volleyball courts.

Cowell Seashore is widespread with surfers and bodyboarders. Lifeguards patrol Predominant Seashore and Cowell Seashore through the summertime with Santa Cruz attractions.

3. Santa Cruz Wharf

The Santa Cruz Wharf was inbuilt 1914 to serve deep-water vessels, nevertheless right now it’s used as a fishing pier and sightseeing vantage level.

Vacationers will discover loads of issues to do on the wharf, and it is among the hottest locations to pattern the native seafood at one of many 9 eating places right here for the glowing Santa Cruz attractions. That is additionally an important place to purchase souvenirs, with loads of retailers and boutiques.

Fowl-watching and sea lion viewing are different causes the wharf is so widespread with vacationers. Sea lions make their residence right here year-round, and their splashing and barking are well heard from the pier.

A viewing space permits guests a very good take a look at the ocean lions resting on the pier construction.

Throughout particular seasons, whales, dolphins, and otters may also be seen within the waters. The wharf additionally has water sports activities retailers that hire fishing gear, boats, and kayaks, as a way to get nearer to the wildlife and benefit from the water in the midst of Santa Cruz attractions.

Proper by the wharf (at 35 Pacific Avenue) is the Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary Exploration Middle. The ability options interactive reveals that educate guests about the best way to responsibly benefit from the ocean and assist defend the marine atmosphere.

Guests can discover the sanctuary’s exceptional marine atmosphere by way of a Biodiversity Kelp Forest, an Intertidal Touchpool, and an Open-Ocean Mini-Theater at Santa Cruz attractions.

4. West Cliff Drive & the Browsing Museum

For a wide-ranging scenic stroll or bike journey, head to West Cliff Drive. A six-mile pathway hugs the shoreline and travels a scenic route with sensational panoramas of the cliff-fringed Pacific Ocean.

The trail is totally flat and wheelchair-accessible, making this sightseeing route applicable for all ages and health ranges. Benches positioned at scenic spots invite passersby to take a seat again and take in the panoramas of undulating deep blue seas as seagulls soar above and flocks of pelicans hover close to the water.

This picturesque part of the Monterey Bay is widespread with surfers. A bronze surfer statue is discovered alongside the trail, as is the world’s first browsing museum.

The Browsing Museum is housed within the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse on a bluff overlooking the crashing waves. The small exhibit exhibits memorabilia, akin to classic pictures of surfers within the 1930s.

5. Pure Bridges State Seashore

The exceptional sea arch that graces this seaside was shaped from the fractures in mudstone cliffs. With its iconic pure magnificence, the small, protected sandy seaside is a wonderful place for rest and bird-watching. The situation can be very best for viewing shorebirds and migrating whales from April by way of November for Santa Cruz attractions.

Typically seals and otters could be seen taking part in simply offshore. Farther alongside, the seaside has tide swimming pools which might be residence to sea stars, small crabs, sea anemones, and different ocean creatures.

Throughout springtime, the park close to the seaside is crammed with vibrant wildflowers. From mid-October to mid-February, the park’s Monarch Grove, declared a Pure Protect, comes alive with monarch butterflies.

The Monarch Grove is filled with aromatic, shady eucalyptus timber, which blossoms in winter, offering the butterflies with a supply of meals. November is the very best time to watch monarchs.

Guests might make the most of the park’s docent-led excursions of the Monarch Grove, nature trails, and tide swimming pools. Picnic space with barbecues and restroom services lies in a shady pine-tree grove.

Tackle: 2531 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California

Official web site:

6. Roaring Camp Railroad

For a change of tempo, take an old-style steam practice journey by way of essentially the most scenic areas of Santa Cruz, an exercise that appeals to younger and outdated alike.

The Roaring Camp Railroad based mostly in close by Felton presents two completely different routes on its 19th-century narrow-gauge steam practice: the Redwood Forest Steam Prepare and the Santa Cruz Seashore attraction. The trains run on weekends throughout spring and fall and each day through the summertime.

The Santa Cruz Seashore Steam Prepare departs from the Santa Cruz Mountains in Felton and travels a spectacular route by way of the awe-inspiring Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park into the San Lorenzo River Gorge, passing by way of a tunnel inbuilt 1875. The journey ends on the Santa Cruz Seashore Boardwalk after which embarks on its return journey at Santa Cruz attractions.

Alternatively, passengers can hop aboard the practice on the Boardwalk station and take a reverse round-trip, nevertheless, the final practice at 4:15 pm doesn’t return to the seaside. Tickets could also be bought from the conductor on the Boardwalk departure location.

The Redwood Forest Steam Prepare travels by way of hovering redwood groves, winding by way of the mountains to the highest of Bear Mountain. In the course of the journey, the conductor shares details about the forest and the historical past of Roaring Camp Railroad because it was created within the 1880s to haul lumber out of the mountains.

Tackle: Roaring Camp Railroad, 401 Graham Hill Street, Felton, California

Official web site:

7. Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruises

Dolphin, whale, and ocean wildlife sightseeing cruises are one of many prime issues to do when visiting the California coast, and Santa Cruz is well-situated alongside the Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary place an abundance of sea life thrives in its protected waters for Santa Cruz attractions.

Annually, from April by way of November, humpback whales migrate by way of the area, and there may be additionally a small inhabitant of humpbacks that stick around all summertime to feast on the bay’s native buffet. Grey whales are additionally quite common right here, and a migration season of December by way of April offers winter vacationers at Santa Cruz attractions, with the chance to expertise whale watching. In late spring, vacationers may additionally catch a glimpse of migrating killer whales, and pods of the big blue whale are additionally seen in Monterey Bay with some regularity.

8. U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Backyard

Overlooking Monterey Bay, the U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum stands on a historical marine terrace within the Santa Cruz Mountains. This distinctive web site on the college campus is an unlimited outside classroom for scientific research, in addition to a vacation spot for gardeners and nature lovers with Santa Cruz attractions.

The 145-acre web site gives completely different microclimates, soil sorts, and topography, which permit for an unbelievable botanical variety.

Completely different sections symbolize crops from Australia, California, New Zealand, and South Africa. Lots of the crops are endangered of their native environments, and the Arboretum works to guard them against extinction of Santa Cruz attractions.

Particular options of the Arboretum embody the Australian Rock Backyard; an aromatic Eucalyptus Grove; the shady Redwood Grove; the Aroma Backyard, crammed with fragrant crops; an analysis backyard used to check the native flora of California; and a quarter-mile-long Hummingbird Path, which presents an opportunity to see pink-throated Anna’s hummingbirds.

Guests may store on the present and backyard store. Pack a lunch to take pleasure within the picnic space with its beautiful ocean views. Docent-led excursions, lectures, and workshops can be found to the general public. Admission is free on the primary Tuesday of each month.

Tackle: 1156 Excessive Avenue, Santa Cruz, California

Official web site:

9. Thriller Spot

This shocking web site must be seen to be believed. The Thriller Spot is situated on around space of the redwood forest that’s 46 meters in diameter, the place the conventional results of gravity don’t apply. Objects and other people seem like tilted even when trying to face up straight, and the gravitational anomaly makes guests query the legal guidelines of physics.

The impact is completely puzzling, and scientists haven’t been in a position to clarify the phenomena at Thriller Spot because it was found in 1939. This has not stopped hypothesis, nevertheless, and each professional and amateurs have given you theories, from potential pure causes to the presence of aliens. After pondering the scientific mysteries, guests might go for a hike on the close by path, which winds by way of the redwood timber in Santa Cruz attractions.

Tackle: 465 Thriller Spot Street, Santa Cruz, California

Official web site:

10. Downtown Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has a pleasing downtown space with beautiful tree-lined streets which might be good for a day stroll. The principle Avenue, Pacific Avenue, is lined with eating places, cafés, ice-cream retailers, and fresh-squeezed juice kiosks. Lots of the eating places and cafés have sidewalk tables for outside eating, permitting vacationers to people-watch whereas absorbing the sunshine.

Downtown Santa Cruz can be residence to not solely acknowledged name-brand shops but additionally all kinds of distinctive boutiques, a number of which carry one-of-a-kind objects created by native designers. Downtown can be the place you can see the town‘s music scene, and through the summertime months, there are common performances which might be free and open to the general public.

Official web site:

11. Seymour Marine Discovery Middle

Close to Pure Bridges State Park, the Seymour Marine Discovery Middle options a captivating aquarium, shark pool, and contact pool crammed with starfish, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and sea anemones. Operated by U.C. Santa Cruz, the invention middle is an education-focused facility that stresses the significance of conservation. The Exhibit Corridor educates guests about oceanic analysis and matters akin to elephant seal habits and the ocean otters’ ecosystem and likewise hosts recurrently altering reveals Santa Cruz attractions.

The middle can be residence to an aquarium, which provides guests the chance to view all kinds of each giant and small aquatic life, together with sharks. The entire household may have enjoyable touching many of those animals within the invertebrate pool, together with sea urchins, sea stars, and hermit crabs. Exterior the invention middle, marvel on the 87-foot skeleton of “Ms. Blue” to get a perspective on the scale of the large blue whale.

Those that need to study much more about marine life and what goes into the analysis and shows on the middle can take a docent-led, behind-the-scenes tour of the Joseph M. Lengthy Laboratory.

Tackle: 100 Shaffer Street, Santa Cruz, California

Official web site:

12. Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Theater lovers can spend a magical night in a redwood glen whereas being entertained by very good Shakespearean actors. The Santa Cruz Shakespeare firm performs written by Shakespeare, in addition to different classical theater. The Sinsheimer-Stanley Pageant Glen, generally known as “The Glen,” is taken into account probably the most lovely outside theater venues within the nation at Santa Cruz attractions.

The Glen is on the U.C. Santa Cruz campus and is a superb place for a picnic earlier than the present. The company might carry their very own meals or buy meals from Hoffman’s Downtown stand on the Glen, which sells sandwiches, snacks, refreshments, and desserts. The season runs from June by way of August, and the advance buy of tickets is advisable; ticket costs range relying on the seating part.

Tackle: Sinsheimer-Stanley Pageant Glen, Meyer Drive at Heller Drive, Santa Cruz, California

13. Santa Cruz Mission

The Santa Cruz Mission is a part of a state historic park on Mission Hill inside the simple strolling distance of downtown Santa Cruz. Based on Franciscan Christian missionaries from Spain in 1791, the Misión la Exaltación de la Santa Cruz (Exaltation Mission of Santa Cruz) was the 12th mission established in California. The mission was severely broken by a devastating earthquake in 1857, and right now just one small adobe constructing survives from the unique mission.

The remainder of the advanced is a reproduction constructed in 1931 from adobe and wooden, designed to look precisely like the unique, together with a one-third scale duplicate of the 1797 mission church. Authentic work, picket crosses, and a tabernacle door are discovered within the church, recreating the historic ambiance and Santa Cruz attractions.

A beautiful oil portrays of the Virgen de Guadalupe adorns the aspect wall of the church. Within the model of California missions, the austere white-painted adobe church contains a wooden-beam ceiling and is minimally adorned.

The Santa Cruz Mission Historic State Park additionally options reveal concerning the California Indians, the Ohlone, Costanoans, and Yokuts individuals, who resided right here on the time the missionaries arrived. The park additionally has a Backyard Challenge to domesticate native crops and hosts a Summertime Sequence of flicks on the primary Fridays of the month, in addition to campfires and different occasions.

Tackle: 144 College Avenue, Santa Cruz, California

14. Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park lies 4 miles north of downtown Santa Cruz, instantly west of Freeway One and bordering the U.C. Santa Cruz campus. With 34 miles of trails on 7,000 acres, this unspoiled nature web site is an inspiring place to go mountaineering, biking, and horseback driving. The scenic trails wind by way of valleys and coastal terraces with sensational ocean views for Santa Cruz attractions.

Vacationers may study concerning the lives of California’s early ranchers by visiting the park’s historic dairy ranch. Right here, guests can discover an 1859 Gothic Revival farmhouse and an 1897 Victorian residence, the ranch’s barns, and rodeo environment, a water-powered machine store built-in 1896, and different historic buildings. Guided excursions can be found on weekends.

Tackle: 1401 Coast Street, Santa Cruz, California. Official website

The places to Keep in Santa Cruz for Sightseeing

Luxurious Resorts: The four-star beachfront Dream Inn is in an excellent location only a quick stroll to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Along with having loads of ocean-view rooms, that is the place to remain in order for your personal seaside entry during Santa Cruz attractions.

A small institution with quite a bit to supply, the Sea & Sand Inn presents complimentary refreshments, free parking and breakfast, and fireplaces in visitor rooms. Overlooking the seaside, the lodge is inside a simple stroll to the wharf and the Boardwalk.

Set again from the shore however inside a brief stroll to the seaside, the West Cliff Inn is housed in an Italianate Victorian residence. An ideal getaway for {couples}, the inn is filled with romantic parts, like a wrap-around porch with ocean views, fireplaces, and marble bogs.

Mid-Vary Resorts: Seashore Avenue Inn and Suites sits between the wharf and the boardwalk, overlooking the palm-lined seaside. Facilities embody a heated outside pool, a fridge and microwave within the rooms, and free Wi-Fi. Kitchenette suites are additionally accessible.

A reliable title in accommodations, the Hyatt Place Santa Cruz is one other good mid-range lodge, within the downtown space. An excellent possibility for households, the lodge presents free sizzling breakfast, a heated pool and sizzling tub, a healthy middle, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Funds Resorts: Positioned close to downtown Santa Cruz, Greatest Western Plus All Suites Inn presents reasonably priced charges and a spread of family-friendly facilities, together with microwaves and mini-fridges in visitor rooms, a complimentary breakfast, and self-serve laundry services.

One other good price range possibility within the downtown space is the High-quality Inn, situated simply off Freeway 1. Facilities embody a free sizzling breakfast, free parking, a health middle, and an out of doors pool. The property can be pet-friendly Santa Cruz attractions.

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