California Beautiful

california beautiful logo

18 Entertaining & Fun Things to Do in Santa Cruz 

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz is a beautiful coastal town in California.

It is known for its beaches, surfing, and laid-back vibe.

Santa Cruz is an excellent choice for a relaxed holiday. There are lots to do in the city, from visiting the beach to hiking the redwoods.

So whether you’re looking for a place to relax or a place to adventure, Santa Cruz is the perfect destination to unwind.

Santa Cruz is a beautiful coastal town with plenty of fun things to see and do.

Check out our list of the 18 Entertaining & Fun Things to do in Santa Cruz. 

1. Relax on the Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a beach lover’s paradise, and one of the best places to enjoy the California coastline is Natural Bridges State Beach.

This beautiful spot is well known for its dramatic rock formations, which were created by centuries of erosion.

You can explore the tide pools, go tidepooling, or simply relax on the beach and enjoy the view.

There are also plenty of opportunities for birdwatching, as the cliffs provide a perfect perch for ocean-dwelling birds.

Whether you’re looking to make a day of it or just want to enjoy a leisurely stroll, Natural Bridges State Beach is a must-see Santa Cruz destination.

2. Spend a Day on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the most historic amusement parks in the United States.

Founded in 1907, the park spans 6 acres of Boardwalk and beach frontage.

You can enjoy a variety of rides, including the world-famous Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and the Looff Carousel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to rides, the park also features a number of shops, eateries, and arcades.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is open year-round, making it a great destination for a day of fun in the sun.

3. Surf the Famous Steamer Lane and The Hook

Steamer Lane and The Hook, Santa Cruz
Source: Aussie Assault – Flickr / CC

Santa Cruz is a surfers’ paradise.

The city is home to some of the most famous surfing spots in the world, including Steamer Lane and The Hook.

Both of these locations offer great waves for experienced surfers.

Steamer Lane is known for its long, powerful swells, while The Hook is renowned for its hollow, barreling waves.

Santa Cruz is also famous for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals.

So whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner, Santa Cruz is the perfect place to catch some waves.

4. Go on a Whale-watching Tour

Whale-watching Tour, Santa Cruz

There’s nothing quite like seeing a whale in the wild.

And there’s no better place to do it than on a whale-watching tour in Santa Cruz.

Every year, hundreds of whales migrate south to the warmer waters off the coast of California.

And Santa Cruz is one of the best places in the world to see them.

On a typical tour, you’ll see humpback whales, blue whales, orcas, and dolphins.

You might even see a rare whale like a fin whale or a minke whale.

But even if you don’t spot any whales, you’re sure to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife of Santa Cruz.

So why not go on a whale-watching tour and experience these incredible creatures for yourself?

5. Explore the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a must-see for any nature lover visiting the area.

With over 150 acres of land to explore, the Arboretum is home to an incredible variety of plant life, from native Californian plants to exotic species from all over the world.

You can stroll through gardens full of vibrant flowers, meander through scenic woodlands, and even take a peaceful walk along a creek.

The Arboretum also offers educational programs for all ages, making it the perfect place to learn about the natural world.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in nature or an educational experience, the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden is sure to please.

6. Take a Walk Around the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf

Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf

Santa Cruz is a beautiful beach town located on the central coast of California.

The Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is a must-see attraction when visiting the area.

Stretching out into the Pacific Ocean, the wharf offers stunning views of the ocean, the beach, and the nearby cliffs.

It’s also a great place to enjoy some fresh seafood. Numerous restaurants are located on the wharf, and they all offer fresh, delicious seafood dishes.

In addition to being a great place to eat, the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is also a popular spot for fishing, shopping, and whale watching.

So whether you’re looking for a great meal or a fun day out on the water, be sure to add the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf to your list of things to do in Santa Cruz.

7. Learn About the Fascinating Sea Creatures at Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz
Source: Jay Galvin – Flickr / CC

Santa Cruz is home to the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, where you can learn about the amazing creatures that live in the sea.

The center is located on the UC Santa Cruz campus, and it features a variety of exhibits and programs.

You can view sharks, rays, and fish up close in the Shark Tank, touch live sea stars and crabs in the Tidepool Touch Zone, and explore the kelp forest.

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center also offers educational programs for all ages.

These include guided tours, hands-on activities, and behind-the-scenes looks at the research that takes place at the center.

Whether you’re a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz or just visiting for a day, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center is sure to educate and fascinate you.

8. Visit the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

Source: Santa Cruz Museum of Art  – Facebook

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Santa Cruz.

The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, ranging from prehistoric times to the present day.

You can see how the first people settled in the area, how the city has changed over time, and how the local culture has developed.

The museum also has a great selection of art, from traditional paintings and sculptures to more contemporary works.

In addition, the museum offers a variety of educational programs and events, making it a great place to visit for people of all ages.

Whether you’re a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz or just visiting for a few days, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is definitely worth a visit.

9.  Hike the Iconic Berry Creek Falls

Berry Creek Falls, Santa Cruz
Source: Pete Klosterman – Flickr / CC

Santa Cruz is home to many beautiful hiking trails, but one of the most popular is the hike to Berry Creek Falls.

The trailhead is located just outside of town, and the hike itself is relatively short and easy.

However, the real draw of this hike is the spectacular views of Berry Creek Falls.

The falls are located about halfway up the trail, and they can be reached by following a short side trail.

From the top of the falls, there is a stunning view of Santa Cruz and the surrounding area.

The falls themselves are also incredibly impressive, and they are fed by a large spring that emerges from a nearby cliff.

All in all, the hike to Berry Creek Falls is a must-do for anyone visiting Santa Cruz.

10. Take Your kids to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Looking for a fun and educational summer activity for your kids?

Bring them to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Santa Cruz!

The sanctuary is home to an incredible variety of marine life, from whales and dolphins to seals and otters.

Kids will love getting up close and personal with these amazing animals, and they’ll also learn about the importance of protecting our oceans.

The sanctuary offers a variety of programs and activities, so there’s something for everyone.

And best of all, it’s a great way to spend some quality time with your kids while they learn about the wonders of the natural world.

11. See Performances That Seem to Defy Gravity at the Mystery Spot

the Mystery Spot Santa Cruz
Source: The Mystery Spot – Facebook

The Mystery Spot is a place like no other.

Located in the woods of Santa Cruz, this strange site is home to a number of baffling optical illusions.

You can see people appear to grow and shrink before their eyes, objects appear to roll uphill, and gravity seems to vanish entirely.

While the causes of these phenomena remain a mystery, the experience is sure to be unforgettable.

So if you’re looking for a bit of fun and intrigue, be sure to check out the Mystery Spot. You’ll be left wondering how on earth it’s possible.

12. Hike Between the Giants at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the world.

The park’s 52 miles of trails wind through a variety of terrains, from peaceful meadows to dense forests.

And, of course, no visit to the park would be complete without a hike through the iconic Old-Growth Forest, where ancient redwoods tower overhead.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a must-see destination.

13. Learn About the Local History at Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

 Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
Source: Dennis Jarvis – Flickr / CC

When most people think of Santa Cruz, they think of surfers. And for good reason – Santa Cruz has some of the best surfing in California.

But there’s more to Santa Cruz than just waves and sunshine. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of surfing in Santa Cruz.

The museum contains a collection of surfboards, photographs, and memorabilia that tell the story of surfing in Santa Cruz from its early beginnings to the present day.

The museum also hosts exhibitions and events throughout the year, making it the perfect place to learn about the rich history of surfing in Santa Cruz.

So whether you’re a surfer or not, be sure to check out the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – you might just learn something new about this iconic California city.

14. Enjoy Shakespeare’s Plays Under the Redwood Giants

Shakespeare's Plays Under the Redwood Giants

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, there’s no better place to enjoy his plays than under the redwood giants at Santa Cruz.

The natural amphitheater created by the towering trees creates the perfect setting for a summer evening of theater.

And with the San Francisco Bay just a short drive away, you can make a day of it and enjoy the scenery before the show.

So whether you’re a fan of Shakespeare or just looking for a unique outdoor experience, be sure to check out the redwood giants at Santa Cruz.

15. Stroll Around Walton Lighthouse

Walton Lighthouse

Just south of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, you’ll find the Walton Lighthouse.

This historic lighthouse was built in 1871 and is named after Captain Benjamin Walton, who was an early pioneer in the area.

Today, the lighthouse is a popular spot for visitors to take a stroll and enjoy the spectacular views.

On clear days, you can see all the way to Monterey Bay.

The lighthouse is also home to a variety of birds, including pelicans and seagulls.

And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a whale or two!

So whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a bird-watching adventure, be sure to add the Walton Lighthouse to your list of must-see sights in Santa Cruz.

16. Take a Scenic Ride Through Redwood Forests at the Roaring Camp Railroads

Roaring Camp Railroads
Source: Don DeBold – Flickr / CC

The Roaring Camp Railroads offer a unique way to experience the beauty of the Redwood forests.

The railroads run through some of the tallest trees in the world, providing riders with an up-close look at these massive giants.

The trains also offer stunning views of the San Lorenzo River, making the trip even more scenic.

In addition, the Roaring Camp Railroads are one of the only places in the world where you can ride a steam-powered train.

This makes the experience even more fun and unique.

Whether you’re a train enthusiast or just looking for a fun way to see the Redwoods, a ride on the Roaring Camp Railroads is sure to be a memorable experience.

17. Enjoy Some Gourmet Ice Cream at the Penny Ice Creamery

Source: The Penny Ice Creamery – Facebook

The Penny Ice Creamery is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious treat on a hot day.

The ice cream shop, which is located in Santa Cruz, California, offers a wide variety of gourmet flavors, all of which are made with natural ingredients.

Each flavor is designed to be rich and refreshing, and the shop offers a selection of vegan and dairy-free options.

In addition to ice cream, Penny Ice Creamery also serves up fresh-baked cookies, pies, and other desserts.

So whether you’re in the mood for a classic scoop of vanilla or something more adventurous like huckleberry sage, the Penny Ice Creamery has something for everyone.

18. Catch the Sunset at the Seaside Village of Capitola

Seaside Village of Capitola
Source: K Tao – Flickr / CC

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the seaside village of Capitola comes to life.

The streets are filled with couples strolling hand in hand, families out for an evening walk, and groups of friends laughing and chatting.

There’s a feeling of excitement in the air, as everyone knows that they’re about to witness one of nature’s most stunning displays.

The colors of the sky gradually change from deep blue to fiery orange, and the waves sparkle like diamonds as they reflect the setting sun.

It’s a magical scene that is sure to leave you with lasting memories.

So next time you’re looking for a place to watch the sunset, be sure to head to Capitola. You won’t be disappointed.