Located on the scenic central coast of California, Santa Cruz is a mecca for surfers and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This trendy beach town has it all, making it the ideal vacation for the entire family. With so many activities to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down the choices. Here are five destinations to get you started as you explore this magical paradise:
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
Ran by the University of California, Santa Cruz, this natural science museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The indoor portion features an aquarium where visitors can even touch sharks. The tanks house a variety of marine life including jellyfish and other fish native to the area. Outdoors, visitors can examine the skeletons of both a gray whale and blue whale. Focused on education, this center is a great place to take budding scientists wanting to learn more about the creatures in the waters around them.
West Cliff Drive
Beginning at the Santa Cruz Wharf and ending at Natural Bridges State Park, this 3-mile walking and biking bath rewards visitors with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, including Steamer Lane and Lighthouse Point. Along the way, you can visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum to get a glimpse into the storied tradition of this beach town. Located inside the Mark Abbot Memorial Lighthouse, the museum provides an interesting look into the history of surfing in this community with its numerous artifacts and memorabilia. West Cliff Drive is an ideal way to spend the entire day, taking in all of the sights along the way with some of the most magnificent views of Santa Cruz serving as a backdrop to your day’s adventures.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
This iconic piece of Americana has been attracting visitors for over 100 years with its classic theme park rides and its storied history. The venerable Giant Dipper and Looff Carousel rides are actually official National Historic Landmarks. The charm of the boardwalk is accentuated with its long list of classic carnival foods and entertainment options. A bevy of hotels in Santa Cruz makes it easy to reach this famous boardwalk.
Natural Bridges State Beach
This scenic beach boasts a myriad of interesting rock formations and the opportunity to get up close and personal with wildlife native to the region. A visitor center, hiking trails, and picnic area make Natural Bridge State Beach an idyllic place to spend part of your day in Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Wharf
Those looking for shopping and dining options will be delighted with all of the offerings at the Santa Cruz Wharf. Located approximately one mile south of the downtown area, this retail complex has everything needed to please any taste or preference. Once your eating and shopping is done, you can relax and enjoy the sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, including magnificent views of the popular surf spot Steamer Lane.
Whatever your family’s fancy, the town of Santa Cruz has all of your needs covered!