The 10 Best Places To Visit In Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, with its laid-back charm and coastal allure, beckons travelers from all walks of life. It’s a place where the redwoods meet the sea, and the vibrant culture dances to the rhythm of the waves. Whether you’re a sun-seeker, a nature enthusiast, or simply in need of a refreshing getaway, Santa Cruz has a spot for you. Let’s dive into the top 10 must-visit places that make this city a treasure trove of experiences.

The Iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

First up, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an absolute must-see. It’s a slice of Americana that’s been delighting visitors since 1907. Imagine strolling down the historic boardwalk, cotton candy in hand, with the sound of laughter and the clinking of arcade games in the air. The Giant Dipper roller coaster, a wooden classic, offers thrills with a side of nostalgia. And let’s not forget the stunning ocean views that serve as the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable day.

Natural Bridges State Beach

Next on our list is Natural Bridges State Beach, renowned for its breathtaking rock formations. It’s a sanctuary for the Monarch butterflies during their migration, creating a spectacle that’s as enchanting as it is educational. The beach itself, with its golden sands and azure waters, is a haven for surfers, photographers, and families alike. It’s the kind of place where you can lose track of time, mesmerized by the natural beauty.

The Mystery Spot

For those who love a good puzzle, The Mystery Spot will intrigue and amaze. Nestled in the redwood forest, this gravitational anomaly has been baffling visitors since 1939. Objects seem to defy gravity, and perspectives are skewed in the most mind-bending ways. It’s not just a place; it’s an experience that will have you questioning reality.

Roaring Camp Railroads

History buffs, rejoice! Roaring Camp Railroads transports you back to the days of steam-powered locomotion. The Redwood Forest Steam Train chugs its way through ancient Groves, offering a glimpse into California’s bygone era. The train’s whistle echoes through the forest, creating a soundtrack for an adventure straight out of a storybook.

West Cliff Drive

For a scenic jaunt, West Cliff Drive is the ticket. This picturesque pathway hugs the coastline, offering panoramic views that are nothing short of spectacular. Whether you’re biking, walking, or driving, each turn reveals a new vista that’s sure to take your breath away. Don’t miss the chance to watch surfers carving waves at the famous Steamer Lane.

Santa Cruz Wharf

Seafood lovers and marine life enthusiasts will find their happy place at the Santa Cruz Wharf. It’s a bustling hub where dining, shopping, and wildlife watching come together. You might even catch a glimpse of sea lions sunbathing below the pier. The wharf’s ambiance, with the salty sea breeze and the cawing of seagulls, is quintessentially coastal.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Botanical wonders await at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. This living museum is home to a diverse collection of plants from around the world. It’s a peaceful retreat where you can wander among rare and exotic Flora. The gardens are not just a feast for the eyes; they’re a testament to the beauty of biodiversity.

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Surf culture is woven into the fabric of Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum pays homage to this legacy. Housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, the museum showcases over a century of surfing history. It’s a tribute to the pioneers who shaped the sport and the community that cherishes it.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a sanctuary for those seeking solace among the giants. The towering redwoods stand as sentinels of time, and the park’s trails invite you to explore their majesty. Whether you’re hiking, picnicking, or simply reflecting, the park’s serene atmosphere is soul-soothing.

Wilder Ranch State Park

Last but not least, Wilder Ranch State Park offers a glimpse into California’s ranching history. The park’s historic buildings and working farm are a nod to the area’s agricultural past. The coastal trails, meanwhile, provide a rugged escape for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a place where history and nature converge to create a rich tapestry of experiences.


  • What’s the best time of year to visit Santa Cruz?

    While Santa Cruz is a year-round destination, the best time to visit is from late spring to early fall when the weather is warm and the Monarch butterflies are in residence at Natural Bridges State Beach.

  • Are there any family-friendly activities in Santa Cruz?

    Absolutely! The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with its rides and games, is perfect for families. The Seymour Marine Discovery Center and the Roaring Camp Railroads are also great for kids.

  • Can I visit all these places in one trip?

    It’s possible to visit all these spots if you’re in town for a few days. However, to truly enjoy each place, you might want to plan a longer stay or multiple trips.


In Santa Cruz, every corner holds a new adventure and a chance to create lasting memories. From the thrills of the Beach Boardwalk to the tranquility of the redwood forests, there’s something for everyone. The city’s unique blend of natural wonders and cultural attractions makes it a standout destination. So pack your bags, grab your sense of wonder, and set out to explore the best places Santa Cruz has to offer. Trust me, you’ll leave with stories to tell and a yearning to return.

Remember, whether you’re soaking up the sun at Natural Bridges State Beach or delving into the mysteries of the gravitational oddities, Santa Cruz promises an escape that’s as diverse as it is delightful. So why wait? The quintessential California experience awaits in this coastal gem.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.