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“Surf City” Santa Cruz, California! Surf’s UP! Santa Cruz, California, the birthplace of mainland surfing welcomes visitors to California’s favourite beach town. From old growth coastal redwood forests, to a legendary 100 year old seaside amusement park overlooking the sparkling blue Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz County offers the quintessential California beach vacation. Santa Cruz County’s flourishing boutique wineries and picturesque tasting rooms are set amid a rural landscape where winemakers share their love of the craft with visitors. Wildlife viewing is abundant, with birding opportunities virtually year round. Monarch butterflies and California gray whales also call this idyllic setting home during wintertime.
Santa Cruz Attractions
SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK
The legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, built in 1907 is home to the Giant Dipper, a vintage wooden roller coaster that has thrilled visitors for over 85 years. Seventy three hand carved horses prance proudly to the music from two beautiful antiques: the park’s original 342 pipe Ruth band organ and Wurlitzer 165 band organ at the famous Looff Carousel, built in 1911. Both the Giant Dipper and the Looff Carousel are National Historic Landmarks. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, Roaring Camp Railroads hosts visitors on nostalgic rides through the redwoods aboard vintage steam locomotives. Roaring Camp also hosts year round celebrations like the Summer Gathering of Mountain Men, where visitors can interact with the wild and wooly characters of the 1800s. Attractions in Santa Cruz County include museums and galleries, farmer’s markets and more.
Highway 1 is the most famous scenic drive in California, and this legendary highway passes straight through Santa Cruz County. Starting out in northern Santa Cruz County, you’ll experience rugged coastal vistas set amidst an artists’ colony. As you come into Santa Cruz, you’ll pass wineries, Mission Santa Cruz and the Downtown Area. South of Santa Cruz are the picturesque towns of Capitola, Soquel, and Aptos. Further south you’ll pass strawberry fields through Watsonville.
Santa Cruz County is home to the largest number of state parks and beaches than any other county in California 14 in all including California’s oldest, Big Basin Redwoods State Park. State Parks in Santa Cruz County offer visitors a vast amount of diverse landscapes, from the mountains to the sea, all within a small area. State Parks in Santa Cruz County host an amazing number of free events year round for visitors, and volunteer docents are available to host visitors on walks through the parks.
Birdwatching in Santa Cruz County is unparalleled, due to the proximity of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, one of California’s last undisturbed coastal wetlands. The globally significant Pacific Flyway is nearby, a main passage for migratory birds, and one of only six common avian corridors in the nation. Watsonville’s 800 acres of wetlands provide a resting stop for migratory birds. Popular with birders, over 200 species of waterfowl, raptors and songbirds live and migrate through the wetlands.
Home to more than 70 wineries, 200 small vineyards and 1,500 acres of wine grapes. Tasting tours, picnic spots, winemaker dinners, and special events are all part of the experience. The wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains offer an intimate experience for visitors. Often times, the winemaker who makes wine during the week is pouring wine in the tasting room on the weekends, enabling visitors to have a one on one experience with local winemakers. The Corralitos Wine Trail near Watsonville, Summit to the Sea Wine Trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Surf City Vintners on Santa Cruz’s Westside are just a few places to taste. Bargetto Winery is Santa Cruz County’s oldest winery, located in picturesque Soquel.
SPORTS & RECREATION
Although Santa Cruz is reputed to be the birth place of mainland surfing, a surfboard isn’t the only way to enjoy the great outdoors. Options include: stand up paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking, wind surfing, camping, kayaking, volleyball, and sailing, among other adventures.
Santa Cruz Restaurants
Fresh local produce, sustainable seafood and award winning California wines are featured in abundance on Santa Cruz County restaurant menus. Organic and locally-grown choices are served up throughout the area's restaurants, each offering a unique dining experience.
Santa Cruz Shopping
Even the most seasoned shopper will find shopping in Santa Cruz County a truly one of a kind experience. From quaint shops in Downtown Santa Cruz to specialty shops in Capitola Village and the Capitola Mall beyond town, to antique shopping in Soquel Village and Aptos, to unique items on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and in Pleasure Point, distinctive items are waiting to be discovered. Surf shops feature the products of local wetsuit entrepreneur Jack O'Neill, and colorful boutiques offer handcrafted jewelry, ceramics and glassware from local artisans. The county's many museum and state park gift shops and art galleries offer fascinating mementos in every price range. Santa Cruz County provides an extraordinary shopping experience for every taste and budget.
Santa Cruz Weather
Mild, with summer temperatures in the mid 70s and winter temperatures in the mid 50s. The sun shines 300 days a year and the humidity is low for a coastal city.
Average Monthly Temperatures