Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Santa Cruz, California. #Top Attractions

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Contemplating to travel to Santa Cruz, California? Explore the top activities to do and sights to see in Santa Cruz, California, to make the most of your time there. Get the most out of your vacation by exploring the best things to do in Santa Cruz, California, and the best places to visit in Santa Cruz, California below. Wondrous Drifter is a Web 3.0 travel startup with ambitious goals to change the world.

Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Arboretum and Botanic Garden Santa Cruz California
Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Santa Cruz, California / Monica Valentine / Flickr

Do you love looking at a spot full of natural greenery?

If yes, check out the Arboretum and Botanic Garden at the University of California!

Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a 135-acre site where Mediterranean flora thrives in an excellent environment and terrain.

A noteworthy fact is that Henry Cowell, the guy who initially held the properties known as Redwoods State Park, is also the same land baron that once owned the property that the University of California is now occupying today.

This iconic garden is open to the public at any particular time. It offers various activities at no cost to visitors.

For those who only plan to visit The Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Santa Cruz to shop, Norrie’s Gift and Garden Shop is a must-do activity while you are there.

This one-of-a-kind garden is worth seeing the exotic plants in Santa Cruz!

Address: 1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, United States

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz, California
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

One well-known park for its stunning woodland settings is the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Established in 1902, the Big Basin Redwoods is in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains as the biggest and oldest state park in California.

The redwoods in this state park are over 2000 years old.

Weekends in Big Basin Redwoods tend to be very crowded.

If you like hiking or biking, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a great area to go if you want to go around on the trails.

Skyline to the Sea Trail for Hikers is an excellent option if you’re a devoted hiker searching for a place to stay or a lengthier walk along the way.

There are a series of waterfalls throughout the Berry Creek Loop, which is just 10 miles long and 1800 feet above sea level, but it is sure to fascinate your senses.

This state park is a must-see spot to see Santa Cruz’s natural green splendor!

Address: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006, United States

Birichino Tasting Room

Birichino Tasting Room, Santa Cruz, California
Birichino Tasting Room is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

The Birichino Tasting Room is one of the best things to do in California.

Any wine enthusiast must visit the Birichino Tasting Room, located full of wineries.

In 2008 the Birichino was established by two people, Alex Krause and John Locke, from Santa Cruz, California.

The two highly skilled winemakers who oversee this tasting room set themselves apart from the many excellent tasting rooms in Santa Cruz.

Using their collective 40 years of winemaking experience, they aim to achieve the ideal harmony of scent, poise, and puckishness in their wines.

The Birichino is in an ancient downtown structure in Santa Cruz that is convenient for them to invite wine tasters or anyone wanting a try.

The tasting room’s old-world ambiance enhances the wine tasting experience.

They get their grapes from old, family-owned vineyards and adhere to the strictest standards of winemaking.

They emphasize native fermentations, neutral or stainless barrels, minimum racking and fining, and avoiding filtering if feasible.

For those who enjoy wine, the Birichino Tasting Room is a must-visit to taste exquisite wine.

Address: 204 Church St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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Delaveaga Golf Course

Delaveaga Golf Course, Santa Cruz, California
Delaveaga Golf Course is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

In the search for the ideal golf course in Santa Cruz?

The Deleveaga Golf Course is the ideal golf spot that provides a beautiful environment where you may enjoy a round of golf.

This iconic golf spot is in the lovely foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains just above the town.

Despite being owned by the City of Santa Cruz, the Loustalot family has managed this 18-hole municipal course since 1970.

Since then, the Loustalots have transformed it into a gathering place for sports enthusiasts to enjoy playing golf.

Residents and guests may enjoy championship golf and outstanding service while enjoying the natural beauty and creative course design.

It has stunning views of the beach and a top-rated golf course, with an award-winning restaurant and two bars, all within miles of this spectacular natural beauty spot.

This site is a must-visit golf destination, set in miles of breathtaking natural splendor.

Address: 401 Upper Park Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Santa Cruz California
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz, California / Ken Lund / Flickr

Take a moment and look at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park if you enjoy hiking and camping.

The 280-foot-tall redwoods, some of which date back more than a millennium, are like living skyscrapers.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park invites calm contemplation, yet its historical significance and spectacular scenery attract tourists globally.

Beautiful oak and pine trees surround the park’s campsite. Some of the state’s initial initiatives to preserve redwoods were also motivated by these trees.

There are a variety of recreational activities can people can do in this 4,650 acres of forested and open terrain, including hiking, horseback riding, picnics, swimming, camping, and fishing.

Trekking trails within the park are available for 30 kilometers for beginners and experienced hikers. 

Watch out as taking a half-mile hike can lead you to the park’s Observation Deck, the highest point for anyone to view Monterey.

With only a few hours, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the most beautiful trails in the area.

Visiting this park is a must-go-to explore the greenery of Santa Cruz!

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

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La Posta

La Posta, Santa Cruz, California
La Posta is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

The La Posta has some of the best Italian cuisine worth eating in Santa Cruz!

Here is a lovely restaurant that focuses on making traditional Italian and Italian Falir cuisine dishes. 

La Posta is a quaint neighboring restaurant offering the essence of traditional Italian food in Santa Cruz.

The decor design of this restaurant is a bit modest, with dark wood and 1930s-style office lighting. 

As a customer in La Posta, they serve dining indoors, patio, and take-out.

With great food and a good location, the restaurant is full of people making it worth the wait.

It has a menu specializing in making Italian food like making handcrafted bread, fresh pasta, tin-layered pizzas, and cured meats. 

Their Italian food is inspired using organic ingredients provided by local farmers, fishers, and foragers.

They provide live music to enjoy while you dine in, which serves as a bonused treat.

The delicious food in La Posta is something you cannot miss in Santa Cruz! 

Address: 538 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, United States

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Lago di Como

Lago di Como, Santa Cruz, California
Lago di Como is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

Along the East Cliff Drive, you may get a taste of Italy right in the heart of Santa Cruz at Lago di Como Restaurant.

The owners of this restaurant are two couples named Giovanni and Mary Ellen Salciccia-Spanu.

It is an Italian restaurant that offers a warm and welcoming ambiance to its customers.

Lago di Como Restaurant has an intrinsic design with slate tile flooring, dark gray and creamy ivory walls, and placed mirrors to provide the appearance of spaciousness.

It has a delightful range of classic Northern Italian cuisine available at the restaurant.

This typical Northern Italian restaurant offers a mouthwatering delectable selection of classic Northern Italian food to its customers. 

Some of its food items include handmade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, fresh salmon with lemon glaze, and veal scaloppini with mushroom sauce.

Their wines and Proseccos of the highest quality are on hand to accompany every meal.

Here is a place noteworthy to taste some Italian cuisine in Santa Cruz!

Address: 21490 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California 95062, United States

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center, Santa Cruz, California
Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

With its convenient location between the coast and Santa Cruz Wharf, the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center is the ideal tourist destination for those nature lovers.

Within walking distance of the beach and Santa Cruz Wharf, this exploration center offers visitors cutting-edge exhibits and interactive displays that emphasize the sanctuary’s underwater habitat.

Visitors may learn about the extraordinary marine ecosystem in the sanctuary and its role in safeguarding one of the country’s undersea treasures.

This educational site honors the remarkable Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, its different ecosystems, and its abundance of marine life.

To teach visitors about marine conservation and their responsibility in protecting the sanctuary’s stunning marine environment, exhibits at the center include interactive and multimedia displays.

People can find and enjoy the discovery center’s interpretive exhibitions, which involve cutting-edge audiovisual material like touchable screens, films, and interactive video kiosks.

Exploring the coastal oceans and marine life of Santa Cruz is made easy at this one-stop exploration center.

Address: 35 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, California 95060, United States

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Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach Santa Cruz California
Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, California / Robert Gourley / Flickr

Is there anything more you’d like to see or do in Santa Cruz?

If you’re looking for more fun in the sun, check out Natural Bridges State Beach.

The beach is called “Natural Bridges” because of the natural arch in the big rocks around the shore.

This park and beach are a great vantage point for seeing shorebirds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore, among other wildlife.

This place is a great area to see migratory whales from April to November.

People can windsurf, kite fly, swim, go hiking, sightsee, sunbathe and picnic at this 65-acre beach.

Be sure to take advantage of the outdoor beach during the week or on weekends.

Restrooms and picnic tables are available near the beach, where pine and eucalyptus trees are planted and provide shade for visitors passing by.

It is, without a doubt, the beach to go to and enjoy the outdoors of Santa Cruz.

Address: 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

Neptune’s Kingdom

Neptunes Kingdom Santa Cruz California
Neptunes Kingdom, Santa Cruz, California / D – 15 photography / Flickr

One can never run out of things to do in Santa Cruz, especially during the city’s nightlife, which is unparalleled.

This entertainment center is a nautical-themed amusement facility located on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

It is a family-friendly entertainment center offering a variety of things for visitors to enjoy, such as air hockey, ping pong, pool tables, video games, an indoor Mini Golf course with 18-holes, and selling other refreshments.

Its exceptional golf course, complete with treasure chests and pirate ships, is the main attraction in Neptune’s Kingdom.

If ever you play miniature golf at Neptune’s Kingdom near Beach Flats at nighttime, check out its beautiful glittering lights lighted up like an enchanting fantasy land that may transport you to feudal times in between putts.

Regardless of the weather, this indoor miniature golf course is always open for people to play golf.

If you crave some food within Neptune’s Kingdom, check out the Barbary Coast eatery that serves burgers, deli sandwiches, and cappuccinos.

The Neptune Kingdom is a sight to behold of fun and entertainment for anyone to enjoy.

Address: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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Oswald Restaurant

Oswald Restaurant Santa Cruz California
Oswald Restaurant, Santa Cruz, California / Andrew Nash / Flickr

The Oswald restaurant is a splendid choice if you’re searching for a more upscale American restaurant in Santa Cruz, California.

The Oswald Restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz serves traditional regional cuisine. Oswald is a modern American restaurant and bar that focuses on the Central Coast’s distinctive cuisine.

Oswald offers a diverse menu of healthy, sustainable options, delectable California comfort cuisine, and creative artisan drinks to fulfill your appetites and please your conscience.

Among its delectable fare available in Owsard are entrees such as steaks like sirloin and lamb chops, roast duck breast and salmon, shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops.

Every month, the restaurant usually features a different local artist in their solo exhibition at Oswald. The restaurant hosts an artist reception for each one.

This superb restaurant is worth making a reservation for, especially if you dine here on the weekend.

Every eating experience at Oswald is distinctively unique!

Address: 121 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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Roaring Camp Railroads

Roaring Camp Railroads Santa Cruz California
Roaring Camp Railroads, Santa Cruz, California / Justin Davis / Flickr

Riding on this railroad may make your trip to Santa Cruz much more enjoyable for those who enjoy picturesque travel.

Camp Railroads is owned and operated by Roaring Camp Railroads, Inc.

Taking this magnificent train journey is popular with both young and senior people.

Centuries-old steam trains transport passengers on fascinating trips through the redwood forest, providing both close and expansive views of the towering redwoods.

Roaring Camp Railroads has two lines going from the Roaring Camp (near Felton in the Santa Cruz Mountains) to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and from the Roaring Camp to Bear Mountain.

Passengers on the Roaring Camp Railroad are taken on a journey through Santa Cruz’s naturally beautiful surroundings.

You can take this old train through the Santa Cruz Mountains for about an hour to see a new view of the area and enjoy a change of scenery.

Riding this railroad is worth the journey to explore Santa Cruz!

Address: 5401 Graham Hill Rd, Felton, CA 95018, United States

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Santa Cruz California
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California / Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / Flickr

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the top attractions in California.

Here is one amusement park you don’t miss out in Sanat Cruz!

Here is an iconic amusement park that has lasted for more than a century in Santa Cruz.

This beach boardwalk has been a throbbing center of its coastal community of Santa Cruz for this finding and seeking enjoyment.

This amusement park is home to thrilling rides and family-friendly activities, delicious dining options, fascinating history, and a stunning beach location. 

This park is otherwise called the “Coney Island of the West,” built-in 1907. 

It has two distinct national ride landmarks to hop onboard, such as the Carousel and the wooden roller coaster – The Giant Dipper.

There are other activities to enjoy yourself, like the laser tag, mini-golf, arcades, a climbing tower, and bowling. 

If ever you get hungry, they offer many food sellers to sell anything from corn dogs to ice cream.

Come to this fun seaside boardwalk full of enjoyment!

Address: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market

Santa Cruz Community Farmers' Market, Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

The Downtown Farmers Market is a great place to shop and see what’s around you!

Located one block off Pacific Avenue in the center of Downtown Santa Cruz, it is the city’s largest and oldest market. 

Since 1990, many farms that sell their produce here have been at the forefront of the organic and ecological farming movements.

It opens on Wednesdays all year round and is a delightful place to while away a day or two.

It is a great spot to eat whatever the weather!

They have a wide variety of fresh produce, a wide variety of flowers, and pastured meats.

For visitors, visiting this place is a fantastic opportunity to sample the cuisine and baked goods around the area of Santa Cruz.

It is, without a doubt, a fantastic spot to spend a Wednesday afternoon in Santa Cruz.

It is open all year and is a great place to grab a bit!

Address: 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

Here is where you may learn about Santa Cruz’s rich artistic and historical heritage!

This museum is about more than simply art and sculpture leaving no room to waste.

This museum is located in Santa Cruz County because it is full of creative people who come up with new ideas, hosting various events and exhibitions just exclusively found here.

It has temporary or permanent displays that might have stayed in the museum for years.

The museum organizes musical events, including participatory creative art activities during particular occasions for visitors to enjoy.

There are six restaurants on their “front porch,” Abbott Square, which they describe as a shared area for tourists, including two bars for anyone to enjoy.

Whatever your interests are, there is always plenty to see and do to suit everyone, even the residents who live nearby and return frequently.

This museum is a must-see if you want to learn more about Santa Cruz!

Address: 705 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

Santa Cruz Wharf

Santa Cruz Wharf Santa Cruz California
Santa Cruz Wharf, Santa Cruz, California / Rooney / Flickr

The Santa Cruz Wharf is one of the best places to visit in California.

The Santa Cruz Wharf is a fantastic place to spend some quality time outside!

When they built the Santa Cruz Wharf in 1914, it functioned as an observation and fishing platform for tourists passing by.

This iconic wharf is a popular destination for tourists because of the abundance of businesses and activities available, including fresh seafood.

Another reason travelers go to the Santa Cruz Wharf is to see birds and sea lions.

Several wildlife species come and pass on the dock as visitors look around. You can hear them swimming and barking from the pier at any time.

Loons, grebes, and jaegers are some of the most often spotted birds in the Santa Cruz Wharf.

Visitors may get a clear picture of the sea lions lying around the pier construction thanks to a viewing platform.

Here is one spot to see some wildlife species at the harbor of Santa Cruz!

Address: 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz, California
Seymour Marine Discovery Center is one of the best places to go in Santa Cruz, California

Visit the Seymour Marine Discovery Center with family and friends for a fun-filled day of marine discovery.

It provides massive aquariums for its visitors to display the magnificent species found in the ocean’s depths.

As part of the Long Marine Laboratory at the University of California, this Discovery Center provides a good place for kids of any age group to learn about the ocean.

This discovery center is over 20,000 feet in size.

Their facilities include having a big shark pool and an invertebrate pool where you may touch various sea animals like sea anemones, sea urchins, starfish, and hermit crabs.

The intriguing exhibits and displays will instill anyone with a newfound appreciation of the sea, its inhabitants, and its critical role in the ecosystem.

It has an interactive format for anyone to participate in activities you would have never thought of, such as caressing a shark.

It is a must-see attraction to see the marine life here in Santa Cruz!

Address: 100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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The Penny Ice Creamery

The Penny Ice Creamery Santa Cruz California
The Penny Ice Creamery, Santa Cruz, California / Jeff Marquis / Flickr

Are you in the mood for some good ice cream in Santa Cruz? 

Go no further and try out this establishment in Santa Cruz!

This ice cream business has two locations that will serve you one of the most delicious organic ice creams you’ve ever tasted in Santa Cruz.

As an ice cream business, Penny Ice Creamery stands out as the only ice cream shop that still makes its ice cream from scratch from home.

It is known for its old-fashioned, artisan-crafted, handmade frozen treats made without the need for using modern technologies.

They have various delectable varieties, along with the option of a topping of torched marshmallow fluff. 

Travelers who love marshmallows and ice cream may get tempted to go to Santa Cruz, California, for the chance to eat some of their handcrafted and organic marshmallow fluff.

This ice cream shop is worth the wait, even if it is long on hot days!

Address: 913 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum Santa Cruz California
The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, Santa Cruz, California / Patrick Kinney / Flickr

This place will teach you a thing or two about surfing in this museum if you have a passion for surfing.

You can find The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum at the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, with a stunning view of the crashing waves in Santa Cruz.

 This museum is free and open to the public for anyone to visit.

Situated along with the world-known surfing hotspot Steamer Lane, this small gem of a museum has showcased various displays, surfboards, and other intriguing items spanning over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz.

Surfers have been flocking to Santa Cruz for more than a century. Thus, photographs, surfboards, and other relevant things are on display at this museum to convey the stories of many surfers in Santa Cruz.

The museum focuses on excellent surfing literature and surf-related merchandise.

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is the best place to learn about Santa Cruz’s surfing history!

Address: 701 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park Santa Cruz California
Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, California / Martin Jambon / Flickr

Here is an ideal tourist park attraction for those nature enthusiasts!

Located near the center of Santa Cruz, this state park is a large natural area with surrounding scenic beauty of nature.

This park is over 7,000 acres with many routes and stunning spots to sightsee. 

The park has fascinating tidal pools rich with marine life, including the massive sea arch.

Anyone visiting this place can enjoy doing outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and even horseback riding.

Horseback riding is a popular activity in Wilder Ranch State Park of Santa Cruz, California.

To any who is adventurous, look out for the trekking routes that stretch for more than 35 kilometers.

The routes in the park go through verdant valleys and along the seashore, providing calm and magnificent vistas.

Anyone, particularly bikers, hikers, and horseback riders, can use any of the routes to explore the park.

Now there is a lovely spot to enjoy the outdoors in Santa Cruz!

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Address: 1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States

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