Santa Cruz is a coastal town on the Monterey Bay south of San Francisco. This city is a classic beach town where locals prefer to spend their days outdoors along the shore or in the nearby California Redwood forests. Also the home of the University of California, Santa Cruz, residents tend to live a more progressive, West Coast lifestyle. Check out all of the iconic attractions and things to do in Santa Cruz.
Beaches define life in Santa Cruz. Check out the top beaches in town – Cowell Beach is a local favorite, Seabright State Beach is popular with visitors, and Natural Bridge State Beach is one of the most photogenic beaches in town.
Check out the best things to do in Santa Cruz:
The Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk is one of the most famous boardwalks in the country. The boardwalk is home to a thrilling amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, midway games, a carousel, and mini golf.
Don’t miss these other popular attractions near Santa Cruz:
Pogonip is a greenbelt that connects the UCSC campus and the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The trails across the 11.5 miles of green space are open year round for biking, horseback riding, hiking, and dog walking.
Here are some more fun things to do in Santa Cruz today:
Kuumbwa Jazz is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve, educate, and share the magic of music and jazz with the community through weekly concerts. Their concert hall is the 200 seat Kuumbwa Jazz Center, a space that is often rented out for private parties, workshops, and theater. Between beach walks to jazz performances, you’ll always have things to do in Santa Cruz at night.
Nighttime activities near Santa Cruz include:
With plenty of things to do with kids in Santa Cruz, the city is perfect for family-friendly vacations. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a protected ocean area between San Francisco and the Big Sur coast. The Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz is full of exhibits that teach visitors about understanding the impact the ocean has on people and the impact people have on the ocean.
The top family-friendly things to do near Santa Cruz include:
The Lick Observatory is an active research facility on the UCSC campus that is open to the public. If you’re looking to stay inside a while, visitors can come during the day to hear about the observatory's history while looking at the telescope dome, visitor’s gallery, and exhibits. Visitors may also come at night during an evening program.
Here are some more things to indoors in Santa Cruz:
The UCSC Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are a 135-acre plot near the campus that contain more than 300 different species of unique plants native to Mediterranean climates. Check out some of the rare plants native to countries on the other side of the world, like the Spring Torch from Australia and the Cape heaths of South Africa.
Other active things to do in Santa Cruz include: