If you’re planning a visit to Santa Cruz and want to make the most of it, you have a lot of research to do. To make your life easier, check out this list of some of the best stops for your itinerary.
Some beaches at Santa Cruz have restrictions. It would be out of place to list them here, so check the county’s website for more information.
Want to go to the beach, but not a fan of crowds? You can go to the southern or northern shores. You may have to hike, and you may run into a clothing-optional zone, but these areas are much less populated. Just be prepared!
Santa Cruz Boardwalk
The famous amusement park is as exciting as ever. Hop on one of the many thrill rides and enjoy the view of the vast Pacific Ocean. Fun for the whole family, even if you’re just looking for candy apples and a way to occupy the kids!
Santa Cruz Wharf
Originally built for shipping food during the Gold Rush, the wharf is now a popular tourist destination. It hosts the world’s largest woodie show (a woodie is an old-fashioned wood-bodied car) and is famous for its barking sea lions. There are coin-operated telescopes in the wharf that you can use to check out the distant sea life. The wharf is not just some landmark for tourists to visit. It is also home to many great dining destinations and entertainment venues.
Santa Cruz Eats
If the wharf has you hungry for seafood, let Stagnaro Bros. hook you up. Or, go to Splash! for the meal of a lifetime; watch sea life underneath the restaurant through floor portals!
Looking for a classy dining experience? Check out the bar Vino Prima. It’s a comfortable space that includes a bocce court with a scenic view.
Outside of the wharf, you can enjoy delicious wine at local vineyards such as Birichino.
You can even explore Santa Cruz’s wonderful array of local dessert shops, such as the Pacific Cookie Company or the Penny Ice Creamery.
Hike the Trails
Not far from the shore is Wilder Ranch State Park. Some trails are as long as six miles, but there are also shorter beginner trails for a casual walk. Enjoy the beautiful California weather while you marvel at nature!
Check Out a Farmer’s Market
In Santa Cruz, there is a farmer’s market almost every day of the week. At Scott’s Valley Farmer’s Market, Stackhouse Brothers Orchard offers customers 14 different flavors of almonds. Get some organic, local food if you’re staying for a while in Santa Cruz.
Arts and Entertainment
A farmer’s market will sometimes serve as a venue for the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets’ annual music series, playing a wide variety of old-fashioned music such as blues and country. Santa Cruz is also home to a wonderful array of art galleries. You can enjoy historical exhibits at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History or see a performance at the Tannery Arts Center.
Where to Stay
Looking for hotels near Santa Cruz beach? Check in to the Hyatt Place Santa Cruz, Dream Inn, or Holiday Inn. You will find that the city is not short on accommodations for visitors.