The 10 Best Things to Do in Watsonville, United States

November 22, 2017 Stefan Strunk

The south Santa Cruz County region of Watsonville and Pajaro Valley boast pristine beaches and a Mediterranean climate. Birders flock to the miles of trails around the Wetlands of Watsonville. Nearby, the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve is one of California's last undisturbed wetlands and is ideal for bird watching. An annual Birding Festival, the Strawberry Festival, a weekly farmer's market, Watsonville Plaza, and the Agricultural History Museum are sights not to be missed.
Restaurants in Watsonville

1. Gizdich Ranch

55 Peckham Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076-9748 +1 831-722-1056
Excellent
72%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 100 reviews

Gizdich Ranch

Reviewed By Amit J - Milpitas, California

We are going to this place may be last 5-6 years for apples/strawberries. Always good experience. They provide reasonable price U-pick and card board box.

They have antique shop which I never went in. I went to gift shop and apple pie.

Restrooms and hand washing facility is closed to U-pick so do not worry about this.

Very good web page always shows timing for picking like which fruit is ready to pick and which is out of season.

2. Blue Ocean Whale Watch

7881 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039-9616
Excellent
92%
Good
5%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 601 reviews

Blue Ocean Whale Watch

Blue Ocean Whale Watch is owner operated and has the most unique boat on the bay. Our boat, High Spirits, is a 60ft yacht with plenty of space for you inside and out. We have an observation deck up top which provides a 360 degree view of the bay - a perfect vantage point for taking photos. Our tours depart from Moss Landing Harbor, the heart of the Monterey Bay. Moss Landing is the closest port to the beginning of the Monterey Submarine Canyon - a nutrient rich area that attracts a variety of wildlife. Blue Ocean Whale Watch was created in 2011 and is owned and operated by Captain Jim Davis and Captain/Naturalist Kate Cummings. Both Jim and Kate have a deep respect for the ocean and its inhabitants. They also completely love their job which makes a big difference for the customer's experience. We are excellent wildlife spotters, locating anything and everything that might be hanging out in the Monterey Bay that day - from endangered leatherback sea turtles to blue whales. We also guarantee whale sightings; if you don't see a whale, come back for free until you do. Different whales are in the bay year-round, so there is always something amazing to see. We look forward to welcoming you on board!

Reviewed By chelsea_behymer

Amazing day on the water with a fantastic captain and crew! Great boat with great viewing from anywhere onboard.

3. Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

3050 Hecker Pass Rd, Gilroy, CA 95020-9411 +1 408-840-7100
Excellent
55%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 390 reviews

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

An extraordinary combination of nature preserve and theme park that comprises more than 75 acres of trees, plants, water and rocks combined with rides, picnic grounds, miniature golf and spectacular gardens.

Reviewed By Scott F - Arroyo Grande, California

We went in November and the park was relatively quiet. I can sincerely say that it was the only theme park experience with small kids that I’ve actually enjoyed. Nestled in the trees, this natural themed park was a delight to stroll through. It was also comforting that all the other patrons had small children like we did so there was less stress about keeping a vigilant eye on the kids at all time. I personally (forget the kids) loved the air balloon ride and the swan boats.

4. Alfaro Family Vineyards

420 Hames Rd, Corralitos, CA 95076-0252 +1 831-728-5172
Excellent
80%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 10 reviews

Alfaro Family Vineyards

Reviewed By Shaymur - Fremont, California

The Alfaro Family wines are very good with 4 or 5 different varietals and several different vineyard specific wines. During a recent visit for tasting, there were 3 different Chardonnays as well as 3 or 4 different Pinot Noir as well as a Syrah and Merlot. Tasting gives a good opportunity to see the differences from the different growing climates and soils. Tasting here is a fun and friendly experience. They are open by appoinment. Take the time to visit.

5. Sunset State Beach

201 Sunset Beach Rd, 16mi South of Santa Cruz Via Highway 1 and San Andreas Road, Watsonville, CA 95076-8597 (831) 763-7063
Excellent
58%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 72 reviews

Sunset State Beach

Reviewed By sstlouis - San Jose, CA


Pros:
-clean, nice Campground divided into three sections.
-we stayed in site 81. It was a huge campsite, which was great for the kids and it was steps from the bathroom so felt safe letting them walk together to use restroom. It was also next to the ADA campsite which could be beneficial to a group if needed. It was also right across from the garbage and recycling dumpster (never smelled, just convenient). Site also directly across from the campsite host who sold the kindling ($10 cash only)
-lots of birds and bats at night. Kids saw owls and bats for the first time closer than ever here in the suburbs. We watched the owl eating its dinner in the tree every night.
-this site was very close to the steps that led to the beach though the steps themselves were very steep. You enter the beach a ways from the lifeguard and more popular area by the parking lot. Maybe a half mile walk to that area? The campsite host told us if you're going with lots of stuff and kids, easier to drive to the sunset beach entrance than to walk from his campsite. I would agree.
-saw the most beautiful sunset ever by standing at the tip of the staircase across from our site.
-sanddollars everywhere on the beach! You don't see Whole sand dollars much along the beaches here. Not a sole around! We went about 11 am and only saw two other people most of the walk. We collected tons of sand dollars.
-digs not allowed on beach but we took ours on a walk from the staircase near to the popular area of the beach that looked busier then turned around. Walked for 20-30 minutes back and forth so was a good distance. I imagine the no dogs is enforced more on the busier side of the beach.
-not far to go into Capitola or Santa Cruz for a day trip if that's interesting
-clean bathrooms/showers

Cons:
Both of these I knew going into it, but still listing for someone looking to travel here for first time:
-can't see the beach from the campground. You know it's so close right over the dunes next to you! But can't see it.
-no hookups

6. Sanctuary Cruises

7881 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing Harbor, Moss Landing, CA 95039-9616
Excellent
88%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 683 reviews

Sanctuary Cruises

Explore Monterey Bay year-round with a marine biologist aboard Santuary, a beautiful boat that is only booked to 80% of her capacity for a more personalized passenger experience. We run longer trips with fewer passengers. We really care about the environment and run 100% local biodiesel. Knowledgeable, warm owner/operators engage and enchant. Responsible captains who don't crowd the animals but ease into the area, which often results in fantastic sightings. We have a great device for avoiding seasickness. Located in Moss Landing at the heart of the Monterey Bay & beginning of the submarine canyon for awesome sightings. We are the boat the locals prefer and the National Marine Sanctuary recommends.

Reviewed By Grampy_Bob - Concord, CA

We took the Sanctuary whale-watching tour on Monterey Bay out of Moss Landing while visiting the area. It was a great cruise, we saw maybe 10 whales, including a big humpback that breached spectacularly near our boat. Exciting! Among others aboard the boat were a woman from France and a woman who grew up in Concord, our hometown. The captain and crew were great.

7. Seacliff State Beach

State Park Drive, Aptos, CA 95003 (831) 685-6500
Excellent
58%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 135 reviews

Seacliff State Beach

Reviewed By Luv W

I drove down to the beach around 5 p.m. for a short walk. There's a nice walking path along the beach. The beach is pretty rough and not particularly inviting. Guess I'm spoiled by walking on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.

8. Mount Madonna County Park

7850 Pole Line Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076-8905 +1 408-842-2341
Excellent
51%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 30 reviews

Mount Madonna County Park

Reviewed By Amit J - Milpitas, California

We camped here in Valley view 2 camp ground site number 205.
This is excellent site closed to restroom that helps with kids.

Restrooms were cleaned 2 times a day very clean with flush toilets. Showers are bit far and you have to go by car.

Amphitheater is excellent. Every Saturday 7:30 to 8:30 there is music program complimentary to guests. Around this time of the year mosquitoes are there in theater area but not on the camp site.

Valley view trail is very good.

From here we went to Strawberry picking just 3.5 miles GIZDIZ FARM fantastic sweet strawberries.

Highly recommended.

9. Elkhorn Slough Safari

8022 Moss Landing Rd # B, Moss Landing, CA 95039-9651
Excellent
88%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 240 reviews

Elkhorn Slough Safari

Reviewed By mcjaniga - Orinda, California

Highly recommend this trip around Elkhorn Slough -- the skipper and the naturalist (Austin) were both very knowledgeable of the local wildlife. We saw lots of sea lions, harbor seals, otters with their babies, many birds... And, the coffee and oatmeal cookies were a delightful and unexpected treat!

10. Manresa State Beach

San Andreas Road, Aptos, CA +1 831-724-3750
Excellent
69%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 63 reviews

Manresa State Beach

Reviewed By Aspi S

La Selva beach just south of Manresa State Beach park is a beautiful, less frequented spot. The surf is great, sunsets are fully visible all times of the year. Best is to bring along firewood and do a campfire just before sunset and stay hour or two after sunset. The experience is amazing, with campfire and the ocean roaring close by.

They typically have fire rings. Last time we did not find any. You can make a large pit very easily in the sand just with bare hands. A good place to get firewood is at Ace Hardware on State Park Drive. It is couple of exits north of San Andreas Rd exit for the beach.

To access it, from San Andreas Rd exit on hwy 1, take right on Oceanview Drive. Park on the side. Take steps on the right down to the beach. Go left on the beach.

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