Santa Cruz is located at the northern end of Monterey Bay, bordering the ocean to the south and west. This quintessential Central California beach town is synonymous with sun, sand, and summer fun. Santa Cruz has ample things to offer for you to rewind and rejuvenate.
Spectacular coastal scenery, historic churches, and charming towns will treat visitors with phenomenal views. It’s a short drive from Santa Cruz to the beautiful Highway along Monterey Bay, with incredible ocean views. In this pristine marine environment, seals swim in the deep blue water, and surfers ride the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers enjoy the tranquil beaches and serene scenery of Santa Cruz. In the rugged Wilder Ranch State Park and other charming beaches, there are stunning coastal hiking trails.
Santa Cruz also offers interesting cultural attractions. For a fascinating experience, visitors watch Shakespeare’s performance and other cultural events. There is also a surf museum, which allows visitors to experience the surf culture of California.
Read our blog on Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz.
Dos In Santa Cruz Beach
Do Visit The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk offers enormous summer fun, including park rides of amusement, games, and attractions. Entry to the sprawling seaside amusement park is free and you can choose between wristband entry or ticketed entry. This is a good option for families on a budget or for those who don’t spend all day. Check out their discounts page for ways to score cheaper tickets.
The Park overlooks the main beach and has attracted tourists since 1907. Due to its wonderful surroundings and historic roller coasters, it is considered one of the best seaside amusement parks in the world.
In addition to attractions, the boardwalk has a variety of attractions, activities, free entertainment, and dining options. Do visit the Official website of Santa Cruz Broadwalk.
Do Go To The Main Beach
In addition to the boardwalk, do visit Main Beach and other popular beaches. The sunny Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches, and safe waters make Santa Cruz one of the best beach destinations in Northern California. For a quieter, local beach, try Seabright State Beach, Sunny Cove, and Twin Lakes State Beach.
Visitors can choose to go to the mesmerizing Cowell’s Beach, which is adjacent to the main beach on the other side of the shore.
The Main Beach is a popular place for sunbathing and swimming, and it is also great for kids. There is enough space for the children to spread out and make sandcastles; since the beach is located in a secluded bay, it is safe to take a dip in the water. Beach volleyball players also flock to the beach volleyball court.
Also visit the Natural Bridges State Beach, as it is arguably the most beautiful beach in all of Santa Cruz.
Do Taste The Local Brew
The Santa Cruz craft brewery is not overrated. In fact, they are one of the best breweries in the state, offering a wide variety of beers that are sure to impress everyone’s taste. There is no shortage of breweries. They are scattered throughout the town, from Santa Cruz to Capitola. Want to try your hands at making beer visit this link.
Most of the raw materials for the brewery come from local farms, so you can expect to find a lot of organic beer. Some of the best breweries in town include Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, Kind Brewery, and East Cliff Brewing Company.
Do Journey Along West Cliff Drive
West Cliff Drive is Sunset Drive in Santa Cruz, a famous street known for its beauty and charm. city. While driving, you can watch the sparkling Pacific Ocean or enjoy the colorful sunsets that frequent the city.
This is not only a good place for walking but also a good place to relax. Along the coast, you can find beaches that are almost hidden from seasonal tourists. These beaches are calm and peaceful, just what you want during your vacation.
Santa Cruz’s West Cliff Drive is also a great place to take Instagram photos. With its incredible background, all your followers will be in awe of your journey. To see the most instragammable spots of Santa Cruz, visit the link.
Do Go For Kayaking On The Beach
If you would like to get closer to sea lions, take a kayak tour in Venture Coast, Santa Cruz. They offer two-hour paddle tours that include a guide and all of the necessary equipment. They even offer sunset and cave tours.
Do Savor The Enchanting Sunsets At The Beach
Natural bridges and ravishing beaches are beautiful throughout the year, but it really shines at sunset. Grab some snacks, pull up a chair, and gaze at the ocean. No better way to end the day in Santa Cruz!
Do Spot Sea Lions at Santa Cruz Wharf
Take a stroll from the boardwalk down to the Santa Cruz Wharf and check out the resident population of sea lions. While there, be sure to spend some time looking at the ocean.
There are regular glimpses of sharks and whales in the spring and fall. And the seals and dolphins live in the area year-round. This sightseeing is very popular and they have limited spots so make a reservation in advance if you want to go.
Do Visit The Redwood Forest
Santa Cruz is primarily known for its stunning beaches, but its redwood forest is not far behind. These forests are absolutely stunning, offering scenic locations for hiking, biking, and horseback riding all year round.
It has trails suitable for hikers and bikers of all abilities, so you can easily find the trail that suits you best. The two largest forests in Santa Cruz are Henry Cowell Sequoia State Park and Nissen Max Forest State Park. You don’t want to miss out on all that these attractions have to offer.
Do Go For Surfing On The Beach
Santa Cruz is indeed a surf town and there is no better way to get an adrenaline rush than by engaging in adventure sports. The Surf School and Club Ed each offer private and group lessons for all ages.
Prices start at $90 for a group lesson and $120/hour for private lessons. As going into the ocean is what to do in Santa Cruz if you want a quintessential California experience. You can check out reviews for Surf School, Club Ed, and other water sports providers on Trip Advisor.
Don’ts In Santa Cruz Beach
Don’t Rule Out The Off-Season
There’s no question that everyone goes to California in the summer, the weather is great, and the outdoors are better than ever. But in addition to all the amazing things that summer brings, there are people. Not just a few people, but lots of them.
Summer is the most popular month to visit Santa Cruz, which means that the population has almost doubled. Are you planning to visit Santacruz in Winters then visit the link.
So if you want a more relaxing vacation, you may consider coming during the off-season. The off-season begins at the end of September when all the children have returned to school. The weather turned down at this time, although it still had an average temperature of 60 degrees.
Also, September to November is a good time to visit, as various activities take place in this city. During this time, Santa Cruz hosted many festivals and celebrations, such as the Capitola Art and Wine Festival and the Santa Cruz County Fair. December to February is still a great time to visit but be prepared for the rain.
Don’t Forget About Airbnb
If you plan to go to Santa Cruz, don’t forget Airbnb. As we all know, hotels in Santa Cruz are expensive, especially in summer. So, opt for Airbnb for cheaper places to stay. The feeling of living like a local is probably the best part. Check Airbnb in Santa Cruz at cheaper rates.
Don’t Go To Santa Cruz Beach In Midsummer
Santa Cruz Beach (Main Beach) is so popular for many reasons. It has a great location, a vibrant boardwalk, and white sand. It is best not to go to the beach in midsummer. This is because it has become a zoo, and because so many locals and tourists flock to this beach in summer, it is almost impossible to spend a relaxing day in the sun if you can find a place to put beach towels.
What To Eat Near Beach?
Also, you can head to the Crow’s Nest and enjoy an extensive menu of casual American fare, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Enjoy the stunning views of the Santa Cruz Harbor, lighthouse, and wharf while you enjoy award-winning cuisine, drinks, and live entertainment! This restaurant has a lively atmosphere and is open late on weekends!
For eating seafood visit, Stagnaro Brosit is located on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and offers sweeping views of the Pacific. Their menu features over 20 types of fresh seafood as well as pasta dishes, steaks, and a children’s menu. If you’re a seafood lover, make sure to check this place out when you visit Santa Cruz!
Where To Stay Near Beach?
You can stay in beach house rentals in Santa Cruz to get an amazing view of the beach.
Some Budget-Friendly Hotels
Bay Front Inn is an excellent budget-friendly hotel with a convenient location and a family-friendly environment. On the property, guests will enjoy access to a sun terrace, picnic area, and a pool. In addition, your stay will include a free breakfast.
Ramada Limited Santa Cruz offers easy access to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, beaches, redwood forests, and an excellent shopping area. This budget-conscious hotel is geared towards corporate travelers but is great for tourists as well and offers free breakfast, free WIFI, a heated pool, and a guest patio.
Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottages has located just steps from a scenic beach at Sunny Cove. The property rents out lovely little beachfront cottages, some of which are fully equipped with kitchens, and private balconies. Your stay also includes free continental breakfast, free parking & free Wi-Fi.
- Beach Street Inn and Suites is a lovely hotel that is conveniently situated near Santa Cruz’s most popular attractions like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Cocoanut Grove, and the Memorial Lighthouse.
After all, you can’t go wrong with a Santa Cruz vacation. It is a surreal and mesmerizing location with so much to offer in terms of experience and culture. Just remember to follow the above tips and you will have a phenomenal vacation with lots of fun and memories to cherish.