Santa Cruz Places

TripWhat's travel guide to Santa Cruz; our list of the best things to see, including The Beach Boardwalk, University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) and Roaring Camp Railroads.
  • The best place in Santa Cruz: The Beach Boardwalk

    The Beach Boardwalk

    Founded in 1907, it is the only original boardwalk amusement park still operating on the West Coast. It features one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters still in use in the US as well as numerous modern attractions. Entrance is free, rides cost between $2-4 each (but less than $1 on selected summer evenings). Day, month, and yearly passes available.
    food nearby
  • University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC)

    University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC)

    On the hill at the north end of town. This UC campus has a smaller student population (except for the brand new campus in Merced), with about 15,000 students. The main part of campus is spread over half of 2001 acres (8.1 square kilometers), mostly covered with redwood forests with the occasional stunning view of the bay. There is an UCSC Arboretum[8] specializing in native plants and plants from Australia. Mountain bike and hiking trails criss-cross the upper part of campus, connecting Wilder Ranch State Park[9] to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park[10] (get a trail map and a parking permit from the kiosk as you enter campus). The Bay Tree Bookstore[11] sells clothes with the UCSC mascot – the banana slug. Keep your eyes open for mountain lions seen (but rarely) in undeveloped parts of the campus.
    eat nearby
  • Roaring Camp Railroads

    Roaring Camp Railroads

    Take a train ride to the beach or a steam train into the redwoods.
    restaurants nearby
  • Downtown Santa Cruz

    Downtown Santa Cruz

    Lots to see and do here all day and night; "SantaCruz" character mixed with some great restaurants and lots of cool shops. Mostly it's a great people watching center. The nightlife is worth sticking around for. Pacific Ave is the main street downtown.
    food nearby
  • Classes and rentals at Covewater Paddle Shop [14]
    eat nearby
  • Covewater Paddle Shop

    Covewater Paddle Shop

    Classes and rentals at Covewater Paddle Shop [14]
    restaurants nearby
  • Mystery Spot

    Mystery Spot

    465 Mystery Spot Rd
    The famous ('as seen on TV') tourist trap, complete with anti-gravity cabin and amazing hillside of illusion. $6; $5 at the door.
    food nearby
  • Pasatiempo was designed by world-renowned golf architect Alister MacKenzie. Even though MacKenzie also designed Augusta National and Cypress Point, Pasatiempo was his favorite layout and where he made his American home.
    eat nearby
  • Saturn Café

    Saturn Café

    corner Pacific and Laurel
    A Santa Cruz institution. A veggie/hippy cuisine in a zany atmosphere. Much to the dismay of many a Santa Cruzian, Saturn Cafe's prices have become a little higher than the average hippy can afford. Burgers and sandwiches will run you around $8. The food is quite excellent, but the service tends to be quite slow.[33]
  • Shadowbrook Restaurant

    Shadowbrook Restaurant

    1750 Wharf Road
    Gorgeous setting overlooking Soquel Creek and reached by a "cable car" tram. Fine dining, Old-World charm.
  • Chaminade Resort & Spa

    Chaminade Resort & Spa

    One Chaminade Lane
    Two amazing restaurants featuring menus using only the freshest produce from local farms. If you're in town on a Sunday, Chaminade's Sunset Restaurant has an award-winning Sunday morning Champagne brunch. Happy hour is every Tuesday-Thursday, 4:00-6:00pm.
  • Book Shop Santa Cruz

    1520 Pacific Ave
    10AM-10PM daily.
  • Capitola City Beach

    right in the Village
  • Los Gatos Art Museum

    4 Tait Avenue
    Donation suggested. The Los Gatos Art Museum, housed in the former town fire house, features changing exhibits of curated and local art.
    eat nearby
  • The Forest of Nisene Marks

    Aptos Creek Road and Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA
    $6 parking fee. This state park is a beautiful, mossy area that used to be a logging site. It's great for hiking and mountain biking. Although most people don't know this, it's actually the site of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake epicenter.
    restaurants nearby
  • Seymour Marine Discovery Center

    end of Delaware Ave
    Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Has exhibits focusing on ocean conservation and marine science, big tanks full of native species, a guided tour with a dolphin overlook area, and amazing views of Monterey Bay at sunset. $6.
    food nearby
  • Seacliff State Beach

    State Park Drive, Aptos, CA
    Parking fee, unless you are creative and careful regarding street parking. This beach can get crowded in the summer, but has some nice walks, a little visitors' center, and a striking centerpiece: the Palo Alto, a concrete ship with a strange history. It rots away in the water but is fascinating in a melancholy way. Read about it in the center if it's open when you're there (call ahead due to state budget cuts).
    eat nearby
  • The Literary Guillotine

    204 Locust Street
    Open M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Two blocks from Pacific Avenue lies this little bookstore with the charming name. Has fresh burritos to the one side and Gigo hairdresser to the other. The intellectual stop on the book crawl; the Guillotine sells scholarly books and sometimes acts as an informal secondary bookstore for UCSC.
  • Logos

    1117 Pacific Ave
    Huge inventory of new and used books, tapes, CDs.
  • Surfing Museum

    701 W Cliff Dr
    Memorabilia from the introduction of surfing to California by Hawaiians in 1885 to the present day. A statue of an early surfer is a few yards from the museum. Free.
    eat nearby
  • Gateways Books and Gifts

    1126 Soquel Ave
    A whole world of inspiration. One of the worlds best metaphysical bookstores including support goods for all the worlds traditions. Yoga mats to incense and candles.
  • Heavenly Cafe

    Heavenly Cafe

    1210 Mount Hermon Rd Scotts Valley, CA 95066
    This modestly priced diner has delicious, homestyle burgers, omelettes, and other treats. Leave room, if you can, for a slice of their avocado pie. Ask for outdoor seating on their patio if weather permits.
  • Au Midi

    Au Midi

    7960 Soquel Drive
    11:30-2,5:30-9 Wed-Sat; 5:30-9 Sunday. Outstanding French cafe emphasizing the flavors of Provence.
  • Lulu Carpenter's

    1545 Pacific Ave
    Free WiFi access point, small patio garden in back. Perhaps the best (vanilla) soy latte in the world. Open until midnight every night. Cute baristas, but watch out for the crazy owner.
  • Caffè Bene

    1101 Cedar St
    Free WiFi, Excellent coffee, good pastries. Predominantly local clientele.
  • Jalapeños Taqueria

    206 Laurel St "and" 1201 Soquel Ave
    Mexican fast food. Seating is very cramped at Laurel St. location, so don't plan on being able to eat there with all your family and friends. $2-$10
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of places in Santa Cruz uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.