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TOP THINGS TO DO IN SANTA CRUZ

CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP GUIDE


Santa Cruz is the quintessential California beach town. It is known for its laid-back lifestyle and classic coastal culture, including beaches, surfing, a famous skateboard brand and waterfront tourist attractions.

Top Things To Do in Santa Cruz

 

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SANTA CRUZ WHARF


Santa Cruz Wharf, built in 1914, is the longest wooden pier in the US. There is plenty to do along the pier, including clothing and souvenir shops, kayak and boat rentals, restaurants, bars and incredible views of Monterey Bay. There is also plenty going on beneath the pier, where the sea lions congregate on the beams and in sheltered water. There is also plenty of opportunity for bird watching and dolphin, whale or sea otter sightings.



BEACH BOARDWALK


One of the most iconic Santa Cruz tourist attractions is the Beach Boardwalk. This amusement park has rides, arcades, mini golf, bowling, laser tag, restaurants, bars, shops, and scenic views of the bay. The boardwalk first opened in 1907, and since then, two rides have been listed as National Historic Landmarks: the Looff Carousel, which opened in 1911, and the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which opened in 1924.


Opening times of the park vary depending on seasons, so be sure to check their website if you don’t want to miss any of the amusement park attractions.


Must See - Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

SANTA CRUZ SURFING MUSEUM


The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, opened in 1986, is located inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point. This lighthouse was built with money donated by Mark Abbott’s parents following his tragic death surfing at the nearby Pleasure Point. This landmark also overlooks the famous surf beach, Steamer Lane, making it a very fitting place to house a surf museum. It exhibits photography, memorabilia and stories from the surfing culture of Santa Cruz.




DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ


You must spend a morning or afternoon walking the streets of Downtown Santa Cruz. Pacific Avenue is the main street in the Downtown Area. Along this street is a range of shops, including well-known brands and independent boutiques, as well as cafes, restaurants and bars.


Our favourite stores were Bookshop Santa Cruz, Paper Vision and Homeless Garden Project Store.

For coffee, you must visit 11th Hour Coffee, located on Centre Street. They have great coffee and a café with a wonderfully laid-back vibe. Not far from here, on Cedar Street, you will find The Penny Ice Creamery. Their delicious ice cream flavours change every season and are made in-store from local and organic ingredients.



DAY TRIP TO CAPITOLA BEACH


Capitola Beach is a short 10-minute drive from Downtown Santa Cruz. This beautiful, quaint seaside town is a must-visit either on a day trip from Santa Cruz or as you drive south along the California coastline. The main attractions of this area are the beach, the Esplanade, Capitola Wharf and the rainbow buildings of the Venetian Court Residences. These colourful buildings make up the first residential seaside resort in California and have become very popular with tourists and photographers.


We ate at My Thai Beach, seated at one of the tables on the window. The view, the service and the food were all amazing.
Top California Destinations - Capitola Beach


PLANNING A CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP


For more destinations and attractions along the West Coast, check out our guide for Top Things To Do on a California Road Trip.



OUR GOOGLE MAPS


When planning our travel destinations, we pin our bucket list of sites to see and recommended places to eat and drink on Google Maps. We are then never lost for ideas when travelling, and can easily share these lists for our friends and family to use too.



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