Bucket List: Top 11 Best Things to See and Do in Santa Cruz, CA, USA
The stunningly tropical town of Santa Cruz is a popular summer destination known for its breathtaking beaches, surfing, and environment. In addition, there are lots of best things to do in Santa Cruz, CA, from visiting amusement attractions or exploring wildlife and forestry.
So to know more about Surf City, here are the 10 best things to do in Santa Cruz, CA.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
One of the main tourist attractions in town perfect for families with kids, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a carnival filled with classic and thrilling rides, arcade games, shops, and food stands along the seaside. The site is an amusement park and a magical place for all ages, offering ticketed rides or unlimited rides wristband ideal for whole day entertainment.
Santa Cruz Main Beach
Apart from the fun-filled family entertainment, the Santa Cruz Main Beach is a must-visit attraction situated close to the seaside amusement park. It is one of the most popular Santa Cruz beaches with Cowell Beach, where locals and tourists flock to sunbathe, swim, play beach volleyball, or build sandcastles.
Wilder Ranch State Park
An ideal place for hiking along the beautiful coastline of the Pacific Ocean, Wilder Ranch State Park is a former dairy ranch with a marine protected area. The site restored old ranch buildings turned into a museum, offering parking space, trails with the scenic view of the ocean that attracts hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
Santa Cruz Wharf
Offering great sunset views and Monterey peninsula views, the Santa Cruz Wharf is another must-see tourist attraction in town. It is known as the longest wooden pier on the west coast of the U.S. and for its location being between Main Beach and Cowell Beach. It is also the best place for dining, fishing, and watching sea lions.
Roaring Camp Railroad
Another fun family attraction if you’re looking for a nature-based activity, Roaring Camp Railroad is the place to go. The enchanting forest is ideal for hiking, filled with massive redwoods, curvy paths, and little streams. Visitors can also ride an open car stream train tour to venture through the beautiful forest.
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
A place to stop by if you’re into marine exploration, Seymour Marine Discovery Center is a science museum operated by the University of California. The facility is also perfect for kids to learn, offering live shark touching, the blue whale skeleton, starfishes with an unusual number of legs, and informative scientific experiments and discoveries about the ocean.
West Cliff Drive and the Surfing Museum
West Cliff Drive and the Surfing Museum is a beautiful place located on the cliff’s edge. The lighthouse serves as a museum featuring interesting vintage surfboards and old heavy boats featuring surfing culture. In addition, to the scenic view at the lighthouse, the site is also known for several surfers in the area and hosts surfing competitions.
If you’re looking for a unique and fun activity for a day outing, head to the Mystery Spot nestled in between the forest. The site is a famous tourist attraction perfect for kids of all ages, featuring optical illusions of defying gravity and the first “gravity-defying” attraction in California, established in 1939.
UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden
For plants enthusiasts and the elderly’s, the U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden is another worthwhile spot to visit in town. The site is located on the grounds of the University of California, featuring fascinating plants collections from Mediterranean eco-regions in the world such as South Africa, New Zealand, California, and unique gardens.
Santa Cruz Shakespeare
If you’re into poetry and art performances, catching a show at Santa Cruz Shakespeare will surely pique your interest. The annual theater event was founded in 2014, featuring plays of Shakespeare and other famous novelists. Also, the stage setting of being held in a eucalyptus grove in Delaveaga Park makes the show more captivating.
- Alexander, Seaver, (2021), 14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Santa Cruz, Planetware
- (2021), 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California, Vacation Idea
- Appelbaum, (2021), 17 Best Things to Do in Santa Cruz, CA — Top Activities & Places to Go!, Family Destinations Guide
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