33 Best & Fun Things to Do in Santa Cruz (California)

Santa Cruz is one of the most visited tourist destinations globally. It could be the destination for your next vacation.

You will find Santa Cruz on the coast of central California, extending to the northern edge of Monterey Bay.

Santa Cruz has favorable weather set up in summer. From June to August, the city experiences warm temperatures, ranging as high as 70 degrees in the day and as low as 50 degrees at night.

There are many things to see and do in this Californian city, from spending time on the beach to visiting museums and discovery centers, the fun never ends.

Are you planing on spending some time here? below are the top things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

Things to Do in Santa Cruz

1. Natural Bridges State Beach Park

Natural Bridges State Beach Park
Credits: Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock
Natural Bridges State Beach Park

Natural Bridges State Beach Park ranks as one of the best beach parks in the area. A visit to this beach park makes one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

This beach park covering a 65-acre land space is the best place to engage in fun activities such as swimming, hiking, surfing, sight-seeing, kite flying, sunbathing, picnicking, windsurfing, and lots more.

It doesn’t matter if you are coming on a weekday or weekends, you are assured of a fun experience.

As you engage in the several activities offered by this beach park, you will be relieved of accumulated body stress.

There is peace in Natural Bridges State Beach Park, which makes it an excellent spot for meditation. You can even meditate while watching dolphins, whales, seabirds, and butterflies.

When planning your vacation, allocate more time to this place, for its fun never ends.

Other interesting stuffs about this park include the large natural bridges from whence Natural Bridges State Beach Park got its name.

Come along with a camera; you will want to take a picture of these bridges.

Address: 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

2. Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park
Credits: Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / Shutterstock
Wilder Ranch State Park

The Wilder Ranch State Park is another site in Santa Cruz that is worth visiting.

This ranch park is the best place in all of California to go on horseback riding and surfing.

Wilder Ranch State Park, which sits on a 7000-acre land space, is located at the center of the city. No matter where you will be lodging, this park will be close to you.

In the park, you will find trails that span up to 35 miles. These trails are suitable for horseback riding, hiking, and biking.

As you explore these trails, you will find several beautiful sceneries, all of which are proofs of nature’s ingenuity.

Wilder Ranch State Park is open from 8 a.m. till sunset. You will enjoy every bit of time you spend in this state park.

Address: 1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

3. The Penny Ice Creamery

The Penny Ice Creamery
Credits: Elena Veselova / Shutterstock
The Penny Ice Creamery

The Penny Ice Creamery is the best ice cream joint in Santa Cruz, California. If you wish to taste a yummy California ice cream, you should add a visit here to your list of places to visit in Santa Cruz.

Penny Ice Creamery has two locations in Santa Cruz; one of them is in the downtown area.

When making their organic vanilla ice cream, they make use of the original Thomas Jefferson’s recipe.

When you taste their ice cream, you will confirm that you have had nothing like it before.

Their ice creams taste different because they are homemade using the old-fashioned method of making ice cream.

Penny Ice Creamery offers several flavor options, all of which can make you come back to Santa Cruz just to have another taste of it.

Note that you might have to wait in line, especially during the summer weekends, but it’s worth it.

Address: 913 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

4. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Credits: yhelfman / Shutterstock
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Another exciting place in Santa Cruz, California, is the Henry Cowell Redwoods, State Park.

One of the best places in the city, the park is suitable for fun activities such as camping, hiking and lots more.

In Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, you will find redwoods that are over a thousand years, so tall that they look like skyscrapers. The tallest among these redwoods is about 280 feet.

There are several trails in the park, each with a different level of difficulty. These trails are suitable for fun activities like hiking, running, jogging, biking, and lots more. Some of these trails cover a distance of 30 miles.

The park is less crowded within the week than at the weekends; you might consider visiting at that time.

Other beautiful things to admire in the park’s campground include beautiful pine and oak trees.

The park has several areas suitable for camping and picnicking. If you wish to camp here, all you need is to pitch a tent or sleep in your RV.

There are several coin-operated showers and flush toilets on the park’s premises in case you need to freshen up.

Another place worth checking out in this park is the Observation Deck, which offers you an excellent view of the area, extending as far as Monterey.

Don’t forget that the park’s campgrounds are not far from the ocean; therefore, it’s expected that the evenings and mornings will be chilly.

Another thing to remember is, try your best not to weed out poison oaks; the operators of the park want the grounds to remain as natural as possible.

Address: 101 N Big Trees Park Rd, Felton, CA 95018, USA

5. Mystery Spot

Mystery Spot
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Mystery Spot

One of the top Santa Cruz attractions to visit is the Mystery Spot. This attraction has been in Santa Cruz for years, and it is popular among the locals and visitors.

Regarded as one of California Historic Landmarks, Mystery Spot was opened in the year 1940. It is the first tourist attraction that drew people in their numbers to Santa Cruz.

The mystery spot is surrounded by redwoods, and you will find several attractions that appear to be defying gravity.

The whole tour lasts for an average of 45 minutes, at the end of which you will be dazzled. Mystery Spot has an excellent setting for beautiful pictures.

If you wish to hang around after the tour, you can explore the short trail in the area.

This short trail is guarded on both sides by redwoods; you will also find a vast dahlia garden on this trail.

A visit to the Mystery Spot is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

6. Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Credits: Felipe Sanchez / Shutterstock
Big Basin Redwoods State Park

A a visit to Basin Redwoods State Park is worth adding to your list of things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest state park in California and also one of the most remarkable places in the United States.

The park features trails that span up to 80 miles and redwoods, some of which are over 2000 years old.

If you love hiking and wish to experience a mixture of hiking and camping, you should check out the Skyline to the Sea Trail.

The Skyline to the Sea Trail is about 25-30 miles long, and it takes three days to explore. Along this trail, you will find several views revealing nature at its best.

This trail will interest you more if you are a biker as its dirt roads offer much fun.

If you consider the Skyline to the Sea Trail to be so long, try out the Berry Creek Loop, which is about 10 miles long. This trail is quite beautiful; along its paths, you will find several waterfalls.

The Berry Creek Loop Trail has an elevation of 1800 feet (or thereabout), and there is a path that links it to the Skyline to the Sea Trail.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park also has areas suitable for camping and picnicking.

This park is one of the best places in Santa Cruz to spend some time with the family.

Address: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006, USA

7. Birichino Tasting Room

Birichino Tasting Room
Credits: Ievgenii Meyer / Shutterstock

Birichino Tasting Room is another major attraction in Santa Cruz, California. If you love wine, Birichino Tasting Room should be on your list of things to do.

This tasting room was founded by two experienced winemakers who, in their unique style, has made it the best in the area.

Birichino Tasting Room wines are crafted using grapes that were sourced from family-owned vineyards. Their method of winemaking is very hygienic.

If you wish to taste some of their wines, you will find them in an old building downtown Santa Cruz. The old setting of its environs is most suitable for a wine tasting experience.

Once you get to downtown Santa Cruz, just ask for John Locke and Alex Krause. These international winemakers are popular among the natives.

After tasting, and you wish to take a bottle home, you can buy one from their Wine Store.

Address: 204 Church St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

8. Downtown Santa Cruz

Downtown Santa
Credits: Expedition Image / Shutterstock
Downtown Santa

Another great area to explore in Santa Cruz, California, is the city’s downtown. This area comprises most of the shops in the city.

You will find many boutiques that feature foreign and local designers’ clothes among the many specialty shops here.

You will also find several surf shops in this area; some of the popular ones include Surf Life, Rip Curl, and O’Neill’s.

If you are looking to buy great organic gifts that are locally made, you could buy some from The Homeless Garden Project Downtown Store.

Apart from the gift store and surf shops, other shops in the area include book stores, shoe stores, herb stores, thrift stores, e.t.c.

If you know you enjoy shopping, downtown Santa Cruz is the place you will get to shop till you are satisfied.

Address: Shaffer Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

9. Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Arboretum and Botanic Garden
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Arboretum and Botanic Garden

The Arboretum and Botanic Garden is another excellent attraction in this city that you should check out.

Located on the University of California’s campus, the Arboretum and Botanic Garden is one of the top Santa Cruz attractions.

One of the fun things to know about this place is that the lands occupied by The University of California and the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park were originally owned by a local baron.

The Arboretum and Botanic Garden offer lots of fun activities to its visitors, some of which are events.

Events hosted by the Garden are open to the public; admission into such events are free.

All information about these events can be found on the Garden’s website.

Apart from these events, the plants in this Garden are worth checking out. Some of them are natives of the city, while some were obtained from Australia.

This plant display has no equal in all of America, and you will attest to this when you get to see it yourself.

Other places where some of these plants originated from include South Africa, New Zealand, and several cities in California.

The Arboretum is open for tours only on Sundays at 11 a.m, so plan your trip accordingly.

10. Santa Cruz Wharf

Santa Cruz Wharf
Credits: rista Abel / Shutterstock
Santa Cruz Wharf

Another fun place you should add to your list of places to visit in Santa Cruz, California, is the Santa Cruz Wharf.

At this Wharf, you will find lots of Wildlife and also get to observe sea animals such as dolphins, whales, and sea lions.

The Wharf is also suitable for birdwatching. Apart from seagulls normally found in the area, you will find several other seasonal birds such as jaegers, grebes, and loons.

You will also get to watch anglers as they snatch fishes out of the water. The Brown Pelicans, too, put on diving shows.

You will be impressed by the wonders of nature as you watch these animals display.

Address: 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

11. Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market

Santa Cruz Community Farmers' Market
Credits: Elena Elisseeva / Shutterstock
Farmers Market

The Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market holds only on Wednesdays every week.

This Downtown Farmers Market is an exciting place to visit as live musics are played here every market day.

Some of the goods sold in this market include baked food and local foods, both of which can be enjoyed under one of the shaded cafes in the market.

If you seek what to do every Wednesday afternoon while you are in Santa Cruz, you may consider visiting the farmers market.

Other items sold in this market include locally made crafts, arts, vegetables, fruits, and lots more.

Address: 700-798 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

12. Delaveaga Golf Course

Delaveaga Golf Course
Credits: Bohbeh / Shutterstock

One of the best golf courses in the city, the Delaveaga Golf Course is located in an area that has both the ocean view and the mountains at its horizon.

This 18-hole, par-70 golf course is popularly known among golfers because it was designed to have different difficulty levels. Thus, it is suitable for beginner, intermediate and expert golfers.

Some of the amenities you will find here include a golf shop and a driving range. Delaveaga Golf Course also offers lessons to those who wish to learn how to golf.

Other amenities in this park include a restaurant equipped with an outdoor patio and a fireplace, and two bars.

13. Santa Cruz Trolley

Santa Cruz Trolley
Credits: daniel / Flickr
Santa Cruz Trolley

One of the fun things to do in Santa Cruz, California, is to ride the Santa Cruz Trolley.

A means of transport for both the locals and the visitors, the good thing about this Trolley is that its transportation cost is super cheap.

The Santa Cruz Trolley only travel to and from the downtown area of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Wharf.

This means you can visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk without paying the exorbitant parking fee. A trip on the trolley costs as low as $0.25.

Don’t forget that the Santa Cruz trolley operates from noon to 8 p.m. only on Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend.

14. Santa Cruz Beach Train

Santa Cruz Beach Train
Credits: Aitor Gonzalez Frias / Shutterstock
Santa Cruz Beach Train

Santa Cruz Beach Train is one of the means of touring through the city. In this ride, you will get to see several beautiful scenes found in Santa Cruz.

The whole ride is about six-miles, and it covers areas such as the Santa Cruz Mountains.

If you want to make this journey your day’s activity, you can decide to stop by the Santa Cruz beach early in the morning. Then, spend the day there, capturing some of the beautiful scenes in the area.

When you are done exploring the wonders of the area, you can take a ride on the train back to the city.

15. Norrie’s Gift and Garden Shop

Norrie's Gift and Garden Shop
Credits: Norrie’s Gift and Garden Shop at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum / Facebook
Norrie’s Gift and Garden Shop

A visit to Norrie’s Gift and Garden Shop is one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

Located close to Arboretum and Botanic Garden, this shop features several treasures to buy for yourself as a souvenir or as a gift for someone you love.

Some of the treasures sold in this shop include artisan jewelry, hats, plants, gardening books, and lots more.

Most of the items they sell are one-of-a-kind; you should purchase the items that interest you as soon as you set your eyes on them.

The store also has an online platform where most of its items are advertised. If you find any you like, call the store to know whether it is in stock or not.

Address: 1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA

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16. Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Seymour Marine Discovery Center
Credits: Matthew Corley / Shutterstock
Seymour Marine Discovery Center

A visit to Seymour Marine Discovery Center is worth adding to your bucket list of things to do in Santa Cruz, California, with the family.

This Discovery Center, which sits on a 20,000 square foot land space, contains displays and exhibits that are fascinating. These exhibits contain several sea-life creatures.

Seymour Marine Discovery Center aims to show the importance of both the sea and the creatures in it to the ecosystem.

Arranged in an interactive format, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center allows you to have amazing adventures, one of which includes touching a live shark.

Another is an opportunity to scuba dive. The scuba diving experience that the Marine Discovery Center offers grants you an opportunity to experience the sea’s depths’ beauty without getting wet.

Other things worth noting about this place is its vast aquariums wherein sea creatures are housed.

The tours start around 11 a.m. every day, each of them lasting only for about 30 minutes.

Seymour Marine Discovery Center dedicates Sundays to families who wish to participate in fun activities such as engaging in fun and craft projects.

Don’t forget that the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. (tours start by 11 a.m.) every day only in July and August; it is closed for the rest of the year.

Plan your vacation so that it falls in these months; you won’t regret it.

Address: 100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

17. Pacific Avenue Mall

Pacific Avenue Mall
Credits: Cowbell Solo / Flickr
Pacific Avenue Mall

You will find the Pacific Avenue Mall in downtown Santa Cruz. In this Mall, there are several boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and lots more, to give you a fun time.

Walking down the Pacific Avenue that leads to this Mall is exciting because of its lovable and weird scenery.

As you walk through the Pacific Avenue Mall, you will get to explore some of the best stores in Santa Cruz. Some of these stores include Bunny’s, Bookshop Santa Cruz, and lots more.

There is also the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasters, which serves the best cappuccino in the area.

Apart from the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasters, you will find several other coffee shops ran by talented baristas in this Mall.

Some of these coffee shops include Lulu Carpenter’s, Verve, and so many others.

You will also find restaurants such as Zachary’s (they serve only brunch), Chocolate, and El Palomar.

From all these, you can tell that what Pacific Avenue Mall offers is more than the goods sold in this place; it provides fun too.

18. West Cliff Drive

West Cliff Drive
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West Cliff Drive

Tourists consider West Cliff as one of their favorite places in Santa Cruz, California. A visit to this place is one of the fun things to do in Santa Cruz, CA .

West Cliff is a beautiful spot, from which you can watch the ocean or the surfers as they surf.

You will appreciate this place more during the evening hours because it’s very airy. At this time, you can clearly see the lights coming from across Monterey Bay.

If you have only a day to spend in Santa Cruz and you seek a place of beauty and quietness, Santa Cruz is the place to visit.

19. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

One of the best things to do in Santa Cruz, California is to check out the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

This amusement park which was established in the year 1907, is also called the Coney Island of the West.

Among the many amenities that it features are two amusement rides, namely, The Giant Dipper and The Carousel: the wooden roller coaster, both of which are national landmarks.

Having been around since 1924, the Giant Dipper is over 97 years today. It is the longest (as its name indicates) roller coaster in the United States.

If you wish to ride The Giant Dipper, you are advised not to do so on a full stomach; during the ride, it rises to 70 feet and then drops down to 65 feet at a speed of 55 mph!

The other amenity known as The Carousel is the oldest rollercoaster in Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It features 73 exceptionally carved horses, each of which is different from the other.

The music which you hear as you ride The Carousel is provided by an organ made in 1894.

Just one ride on any of these landmarks will not be enough for you; you will surely desire to ride more.

You will find other fun amenities in Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk, including an 18-hole miniature golf course, a bowling center, and two arcades.

Free concerts are hosted on the beach every Friday night. These concerts are exciting, making this attraction worth a visit while you are in the city.

Apart from that, you and your loved one can take a stroll along the boardwalk at night.

For other events that hold here, check out the park’s website to know more about them.

Address: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

20. Oswald Restaurant

Oswald Restaurant
Credits: Oswald / Facebook
Oswald Restaurant

Oswald Restaurant is one of the fancy restaurants in Santa Cruz, California. If you are looking for a place to eat in the city, this restaurant is one of the best places to visit.

Some of the dishes on their menu include roast duck, shrimp, crab, lamb, lobster, scallops, trout, cod, and lots more.

The restaurant also serves some of the best wines, both local and international.

Are you looking for a place to go on a date? You need to try out this restaurant.

Note that the restaurant is mostly filled up on the weekend, and if you wish to dine here on those days, you need to make reservations. Reservation can be made on the restaurant’s website or by placing a call.

Address: 121 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

21. La Posta

La Posta
Credits: La Posta / Facebook
La Posta

Another fantastic restaurant in this city is La Posta, which serves its customer’s traditional Italian dishes.

Designed to have an Italian look, you will get to listen to live music while you dine here.

Beautiful things should not be out of reach; that was probably why the restaurant was positioned in the center of the city, making it closer to every area in Santa Cruz.

Because it serves excellent food, in addition to its favorable location, the restaurant quickly gets filled up, and you may have to wait your turn.

Although the wait is worth it, you can avoid the delay by making a reservation. The restaurant has clauses that attract a penalty when you fail to cancel a reservation on time.

But why would you want to cancel? Where else will you sample an appetizer while drinking a delicious Italian wine?

La Posta is genuinely one of the best places to visit in this city.

Address: 538 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA

22. Four Mile Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park

Four Mile Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park
Credits: yhelfman / Shutterstock
Four Mile Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park

If you plan on staying for some time in this city, you should add the Four Mile Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park to your list of places to visit.

This beach is one of the best areas in Santa Cruz when it comes to surfing. You will confirm this from the number of surfers you will find in the area.

One lovely thing about this beach is that it is suitable for everyone who wants to surf, including beginners, average, or experienced surfers.

The beach has some areas that are sheltered, and it is in this area that a novice can surf without much danger. Average surfers can surf within these areas too.

Experienced surfers can explore the open areas of the beach. These areas are sometimes challenging because the swells here are much higher.

But that’s actually what an experienced surfer loves: a challenge.

Address (Four Mile Beach): 3810 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

23. Pleasure Point

Pleasure Point
Credits: yhelfman / Shutterstock
Pleasure Point

Pleasure Point is another surfing area in Santa Cruz, California. Here, you will find surfers from all over the world.

If you are a beginner, it’s best to try surfing in the early days of the week, for the beach is usually not crowded during this period.

Beginners, due to their inexperience, tend to collide with themselves and sometimes experienced surfers. Surfing on less crowded days reduces the probability of an accident occurring.

If you are an experienced surfer, you can come any day you like.

If you forget to come with your surfboard, you will find several surf shops in the area where you can hire one.

Address: East Cliff Drive, Pleasure Point Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA

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24. Crow’s Nest Restaurant

Crow's Nest Restaurant
Credits: The Crow’s Nest / Facebook
Crow’s Nest Restaurant

Crow’s Nest Restaurant is one of the best eateries in Santa Cruz, California. If you wish to sample several classic American dishes, you should add this restaurant to your list.

Located very close to the water, The Crow’s Nest Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all her customers.

On the resturants menu, you find several items such as soups, grilled options, appetizers, fresh seafood dishes, pasta dishes, burgers, and lots more.

Just beside this restaurant is the Breakwater Bar & Grill, which is most suitable if you are going for light meals and snacks.

For more food options, check out the Beach Market that is on-site. There, you can buy snacks, beverages, and ice cream.

This makes what to do in Santa Cruz for a fun night time, consider an addition to your Santa Cruz bucket list.

25. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
Credits: Mike Brake / Shutterstock
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum known for its rich surfing heritage.

If you wish to know more about the history of surfing, you should add a visit to this museum to your list of places to visit in Santa Cruz, California.

The museum is located on the West Cliff Drive found in Lighthouse Point Park.

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum was established in the year 1986. The artifacts and exhibits in it prove that people have been surfing in Santa Cruz for more than 100 years.

Some of the items you will find in this museum include a surfboard made 70 years ago.

The museum is not a big one; 30 minutes is enough to explore it; also, admission into the museum is free.

You will find the museum open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday; the rest of the week, they are closed.

Before you leave, take time to look at the To Honor Surfing Monument located just beside the museum.

You can watch surfers as they surf at Steamer Lane from the monument.

26. Neptune’s Kingdom

Neptune's Kingdom
Credits: Guillermo Alcalá / Flickr
Neptune’s Kingdom

There are several things to do at night in Santa Cruz, California; one of them is playing miniature golf at Neptune’s Kingdom. You will find Neptune’s Kingdom very close to Beach Flats.

Regarded as the best miniature golf club in the area, Neptune’s Kingdom has several golfing amenities. It also has lots of golf courses with differing levels of difficulty.

If you haven’t played golf before or are still a learner, the golf club offers a series of classes for those who wish to learn how to play.

If you are experienced, test yourself by playing in their several courses.

This makes what to do in Santa Cruz for a fun time, hence one of the best places to visit in Santa Cruz.

Address: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

27. Brady’s Yacht Club

Brady's Yacht Club
Credits: Mike Fernwood / Flickr
Brady’s Yacht Club

If you are looking for a place in Santa Cruz, California, where you can play some games and mingle with the locals, you should add Bradys Yacht Club to your list.

This club is your typical bar, equipped with gaming amenities such as pool tables, card tables, and lots more.

You can show off your pool and card-playing ability right here while enjoying a bottle of whiskey, scotch, or even beer.

Bradys Yacht Club is a favorite hangout spot for the locals, and if you wish to mingle with them, you should include this place to list things to do in Santa Cruz.

The bartenders here are friendly; you are free to chat with them. Brady’s Yacht Club closes by 2 a.m.

Address: 413 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA

28. Roaring Camp Railroads

Roaring Camp Railroads
Credits: Lux Blue / Shutterstock
Roaring Camp Railroads

Some of the best scenes near Santa Cruz can be found along the Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, CA.

To explore this Railroad, you have to board the Roaring Camp trains, which leave from Felton.

These Roaring Camp trains are open-air 19th-century steam trains; while you ride on them around Santa Cruz, you get to witness several scenic views.

The whole tour lasts for one hour fifteen minutes, during which you will be told the history of the railroads and the surrounding lands.

Halfway through the journey, the steam train is stopped to allow tourists to stretch their legs. You can use that opportunity to take pictures with the train or the giant redwood trees.

Consider going on this tour; you will find it very exciting.

29. Whale Watching Cruise

Whale Watching Cruise
Credits: Chase Dekker / Shutterstock
Whales

One of the best things to do in Santa Cruz is whale watching. Every year, whales pass through Santa Cruz as they migrate; this makes it one of the best places in California for whale watching.

Because different species migrate at different times of the year, whale watching is an all year round experience activity.

Apart from whales, even dolphins and porpoises migrate through Santa Cruz, California.

While whale watching, you may likely spot a humpback whale. Grey whales are found in their numbers at certain times of the year.

For a perfect experience, while coming for this tour, come with waterproof binoculars.

Other animals you will get to see on this expedition includes seals, sea lions, otters, sea turtles, jellyfish, sharks, and lots more.

You will also find several species of seabirds.

Let whale watching be one of the adventurous things you will do in Santa Cruz, join the Santa Cruz Whale Watching Cruise.

30. East Cliff Drive

East Cliff Drive
Credits: Richard Masoner / Flickr
East Cliff Drive

East Cliff Drive is not as beautiful as West Cliff Drive, but if you have not been to West Cliff before, you might think it is the finest place in Santa Cruz, California.

The first distinction between the two is the reduction in the number of tourists in the area. Another is that East Cliff Drive is not as developed as West Cliff Drive.

An edge the East Cliff Drive has over the West Cliff Drive is that it is calm. This calmness can be attributed to the fact that fewer number of tourists pass through this drive.

Driving through the East Cliff Drive clears the head, and it is a great area to engage in meditation.

Some of the entertaining areas you will find around the East Cliff includes Pleasure Point, which is an excellent spot for surfing.

Suppose you get hungry while driving along this area; you can get a cup of coffee from Verve or pizza from Pleasure Point Pizza. You can also locate The Hook from this area.

Although not as impressive as its sister cliff, a visit to East Cliff Drive should be on your checklist of things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

31. SS Palo Alto

SS Palo Alto
Credits: Kamran Rahmani / Shutterstock
SS Palo Alto

Another exciting thing you will find in Santa Cruz is the SS Palo Alto. Known by the locals as “the Cement Ship, this makes one of the top things to see in Santa Cruz, California.

SS Palo Alto is a World War I tanker boat launched in Oakland in the year 1919. It stayed docked at a place in Aptos, California, for several years.

Built to be used in World War I, SS Palo Alto was never used for the reason why it was made because the war ended before it was completed.

For ten years, this 6,100-ton cement ship was abandoned till a company in Santa Cruz bought it, towed it down to Santa Cruz, and then converted it to an attraction to make lots of money from it.

When they bought it, they added a swimming pool, a ballroom, carnival games, casinos, and lots more.

Due to the Great Depression, the venture never kicked off. In later years, it was converted to a fishing pier, which closed down sometime later due to deterioration.

Today, what was once a glorious ship with lots of fun amenities has now become a sinking sight that can be seen afar off.

It has become a habitat for sea birds and several marine life, making it a suitable location for wildlife watching.

You should check out the SS Palo Alto; it’s worth it. Don’t forget to come along with your binoculars; you will need them for wildlife watching.

32. Capitola Village

Capitola Village
Credits: yhelfman / Shutterstock
Capitola Village

Capitola Village is one of the famous tourist spots in Santa Cruz, California.

A place to add to your bucket list of things to do in Santa Cruz, Capitola Village is one of the most excellent places in the city to go on a stroll.

Some of the fun activities you can take to during your visit to this Village include going window shopping, checking out pizza joints, grabbing an ice cream, and lots more.

You will find several benches very close to the beach; you can stay there to enjoy your pizza and ice cream.

Capitol Village is quite a beautiful area. You will find a community in the seaside living in beautiful houses built using the Italian architectural style in this area.

Some of the attractions you will find here include boutiques, stores, restaurants, and so many others. With several souvenir shops around, Capitol Village is the best place to buy souvenirs before you leave the city.

Comparing Pacific Avenue to the Capitol Village, one could say that you have more young people and flashy things in the Avenue than in the Village.

The best things to shop in Capitol Village are touristy souvenirs; you will also find clothing for the middle-aged here.

Capitol Village has its flaws, but when it comes to the restaurant’s meals, they are faultless.

You will find some of the best meals in Santa Cruz here. That’s another reason (apart from the souvenir) why it is frequented by lots of tourists.

The best time to visit Capitol Village is in the evening; all the restaurants are open at that time.

It is worth noting that Capitola Village plays host to popular yearly events in Santa Cruz, such as the Capitola Art & Wine Festival, which holds every September.

Make plans to visit Santa Cruz in September, and you will be pleased you did.

33. Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Credits: daniel.he / Flickr
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is one of the Santa Cruz attractions worth visiting.

The museum houses lots of exciting exhibitions, some of which are temporal while others are permanent.

As you tour through this museum, you will get to learn more about the arts and history of Santa Cruz, as well as that of other places.

There are lots of stuff to see in this museum; even the roof of the building contain open-air exhibitions.

Apart from arts, the museum also plays host to several events such as musical events, creative art events, and lots more.

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History has an outdoor community space called Abbott Square.

In this place, visitors are allowed to pick food from the menus of six different restaurants. The square also has two bars.

These restaurants and bars imply that what the museum offers is more than just art and sculpture; even events are included.

Therefore, no matter where your interest lies, the museum has something that will please you, regardless of if you are a native or not.

This makes what to do in Santa Cruz, do consider an addition to your bucket list of fun things to do in Santa Cruz, California.

Address: 705 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

Planning to explore other parts of California? here is a list of things to do in Irvine , best places to visit in Daly City, and fun things to do in Burbank  

Plan a Trip to Santa Cruz

You can’t exhaust all the places listed here if you plan to stay for a week or a month.

Some of these fun places have so much fun embedded, hence you may need a week to explore them all.

In situations like this, all you need to do is cover as much as you can, leaving the rest for the next time you visit.

Make your bucket list of things to do in Santa Cruz as you plan your trip to this city.

Have a fun vacation!