Top 10 Things to do in Santa Cruz, United States

January 9, 2018 Almeta Stockton

The quintessential California beach town of Santa Cruz! It was here that surfing was first brought to the mainland by Hawaiian royalty. Home to the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined downtown area, and the historic Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, which stretches out a half-mile into the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Other highlights include UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, and nearby redwood forests.
Restaurants in Santa Cruz

1. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Big Trees Park Road, Felton, CA 95018 +1 831-335-4598
Excellent
82%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 554 reviews

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Minutes away from the city, this park has old redwoods.

Reviewed By Dalen K

Enjoyed a great hike - beautiful scenery, quiet. Parking was a little tough - at least where I was. There were lots of mountain bikers around. It could be I chose the wrong location - don’t know.

2. West Cliff Drive

Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Excellent
77%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

West Cliff Drive

Reviewed By M C - Newport News, Virginia

Walked a ways on this easy path above DT Santa Cruz on the West Cliffs. Road parallels path/trail...nice neighborhood. Walkers, runners and bikers. Striking ocean scenes, waves pounds rocks below. Since walk is in a rough semi circular view's are great of breaking waves.

3. Wilder Ranch State Park

1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-5601 +1 831-423-9703
Excellent
68%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 199 reviews

Wilder Ranch State Park

Reviewed By Maria S - Knoxville, Tennessee

Wilder Ranch has something for everyone. A fairly gentle hike with wildflowers, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. And then at the end, amazing views of the bluffs with the ocean waves crashing below.

You also have the ranch itself which has farm animals with a barn and out buildings you can see. Members of your party may enjoy seeing the antique farm equipment. The farm house is not open for public view however. You can go to the welcome center for information and also enjoy talking with the walking guide who can answer just about any question for you.

Make sure you take a jacket with hood or some other warm apparel. You may be hot hiking until you get to the extremely breezy bluffs. It was very cold wind that just about took our breath away the day we were there. It may not be that way all the time as we were visiting from out of state, but good to be prepared. Little ones will need to be holding a hand of an adult when you get to the bluffs. There are no guardrails.

There is a fee for parking but none for the visit. Restrooms are close to the entrance near the parking lot if needed.

4. University of California at Santa Cruz

1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064-1099 +1 831-459-0111
Excellent
71%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 231 reviews

University of California at Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz campus offers an attractive blend of notable architecture and panoramic views.

Reviewed By drdave822 - Buffalo, NY

UCSC offers a modern campus with buildings set far apart in a wooded hillside overlooking Monterey Bay. There also is an Ag School with lots of critters and a greehouse where you can plants and gifts. I recommend taking a tour to get the full experience. Catch theater, dance or music by talented students while on campus. Only downside: its is very hard to find a good cup of coffee on campus!

5. Seymour Marine Discovery Center

100 Shaffer Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-5730 +1 831-459-3800
Excellent
60%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 215 reviews

Seymour Marine Discovery Center

See a wide variety of marine animals at the University of Californias research lab.

Reviewed By David G

This was a smaller Marine center, but had a couple of touch tanks and 3 large aquariums divided into several smaller tanks to observe marine life. May be more interesting with a research center, but the volunteers didnt know what we were talking about when we asked about sea lions or dolphins being researched. Reasonably priced and worth a stop, especially if you're nearby at Natural Bridges state park.

6. Natural Bridges State Beach

2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-6257 +1 831-423-4609
Excellent
55%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 703 reviews

Natural Bridges State Beach

A refuge for wintering Monarch Butterflies, this park boasts a sandy cove, tidepools, a nature trail through the Butterfly Preserve, and several hiking trails. There is also a bicycle path around the perimeter of the park.

Reviewed By craigclark - Columbus, Ohio

It was a little breezy and chilly when i stopped here the other day. First I pulled into the observation area and check out the rock with the natural bridge. Probably a better view from the other side. Next I went to the visitor center and gift shop. Visitor center had a few neat exhibits about local, wildlife, plant life, etc. in the park. I would like to make it back here in summer weather. Great place to walk.

7. UCSC Arboretum

1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064-1077 +1 831-427-2998
Excellent
69%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 125 reviews

UCSC Arboretum

Reviewed By 427BeatleBob - Watsonville, California

my friend is from Sydney, Australia and she is a birder. I know that Australia does not have Hummingbirds so I thought it would be idea to bring her to the place. Even though it is still winter and cold, the Hummingbirds did not disappoint. There are two types; Anna's and Allen's. Plus, there are other birds so my friend was ecstatic. So, her bird list got bigger and bigger.
They charge five dollars per person but the parking is a little tight.

8. Roaring Camp Railroads

5401 Graham Hill Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95018-9745
Excellent
55%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 396 reviews

Roaring Camp Railroads

See California’s towering redwood trees from two historic railroads. Ride steam trains to Bear Mountain or Beach Trains to Santa Cruz. Visit an 1880s logging town located in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Between San Francisco and Monterey Bay in Felton.

Reviewed By Lucy E - Menlo Park, California

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9. Nickelodeon Theatre

210 Lincoln St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4372 +1 831-426-7500
Excellent
82%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 95 reviews

Nickelodeon Theatre

Reviewed By jaseaton - Silver Spring, Maryland

Nickelodeon offers 5 (or was it 6) tiny theaters, each with one of the current independent, foreign or art films. We went to see Ladybird, a touching film of a high school senior in Sacramento California. The theaters are tiny (possibly 50 seats) and they oddly have a floor which rises up toward the screen. Seats are almost comfortable. Concessions too, although on Xmas day their popcorn machine went out, so they were hand-trucking it in from the nearby Delmar Theater. The sound and projection were fine.

10. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

West Cliff Drive at Lighthouse Point, Santa Cruz, CA +1 831-420-6289
Excellent
46%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 204 reviews

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

For more than a hundred years, Santa Cruz has been a hot spot for hard-core surfers. This museum tells their stories through photographs, surfboards and other related items.

Reviewed By Maiya L - Stockton, California

Surfing museum was nice as was the working lighthouse but the views were incredible. We were able to find sea otters, sea lions, pelicans and lots of surfers. Great picture spot.

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