Wondering What To Do In Santa Cruz? Here Are 9 Places You Should Visit

A visit to California is incomplete without visiting Santa Cruz, but you might wonder what there is to do in Santa Cruz. So, let’s dive into the list of activities that you can indulge in while visiting this wonderful California city!



- Santa Cruz boardwalk
Santa Cruz Wharf
- Garden of Eden
- Shark Fin Cove
Roaring Camp Railroad
- Bigfoot Discovery Museum
- Wilder Ranch State Park
- Brew Cruz
- Mystery Spot

Santa Cruz Boardwalk 

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an amusement park that is located right on the beach. It features rides, games, attractions, shopping, and food joints. 

You do not have to think twice about visiting Santa Cruz Boardwalk if you are visiting with your kids. They will have a such fun time! Plus, the beachfront makes the view just as amazing as the amusement park itself. 

Not all rides cost money. There are rides within the park that come free of charge. Some of these rides include a roller coaster, the games for kids, and few other games as well.

However, you can purchase tickets for rides based on day, season, or just for the rides you wish to go on. 

If rides and delicious food do not convince you, then know that Time Out Santa Cruz recommended this as a must-visit. Also, this place is well known as one of the best things to do in Santa Cruz with kids

Santa Cruz Wharf

Another one of the things to do in Santa Cruz is visiting the Wharf. The Santa Cruz Wharf consists of the Pleasure Pier and the Plunge. Initially, the Wharf was a part of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The Wharf comes with bars, restaurants, and a view of the Santa Cruz beaches. 

If you are a great admirer of wildlife, then you must visit the Santa Cruz Wharf. It is a great spot for bird watching as well. 

Some of the best Santa Cruz hotels are located around the Wharf and beach, which is always a plus if you are not a local. A Santa Cruz family vacation is definitely incomplete without a dinner and walk on the Wharf. 

If you are interested in recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, or fishing trips, then a visit to the Wharf is a great idea in your list of things to do in Santa Cruz

Garden of Eden

Another recommendation for things to do in Santa Cruz is to visit the Garden of Eden. This is one of the best spots to visit if you like swimming in hidden gems. 

While visiting the Garden of Eden is strongly advised for those looking for things to do in Santa Cruz with kids, all visitors must take extreme precaution at all times, as it can get dangerous. 

This hidden gem is a famous tourist attraction for anyone who visits Santa Cruz. Therefore, if you do not want to miss out on the Santa Cruz things to do hotlist, make sure to visit this paradise. 

The swimming hole features a shore of sand and is a perfect place to cool off. However, this place is considered a paradise in Santa Cruz, therefore, make sure to clean up after yourself and do not leave any trash behind. 

To reach the Garden of Eden you have to take a drive on Highway 9 towards the Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. Keep driving until you come across the North Entrance of the park. 

Shark Fin Cove

This tourist spot is one of the most recommended visits. It packs a beach cove with a massive shark tooth-shaped rock sitting just offshore.

If you are lucky, you will be able to spot a small sea cave amongst the cliff. However, this only happens if the Santa Cruz weather and the sea waves permit. 

The sea cave is one of the most sought after places in Santa Cruz for photographers. 

If you like the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, then this Santa Cruz beach is definitely up your alley. Visiting during the daytime will grant you some the most perfect photographs of the geological wonders. 

If you are an adrenaline junkie, then a visit to the Shark Fin Cove is one of the best things to do in Santa Cruz. But, unless you can swim at an olympic-level, it is advised not to go into the waters. 

Roaring Camp Railroad

A fun start to your Santa Cruz family vacation would be taking a train ride. 

Passengers are taken to the Henry Cowell State Park, Bear Mountain, and even the train depot’s grounds. 

These grounds feature the old-fashion general store and a stage for special events. 

While this might not be one of the first things to do with kids, you should definitely include it in your Santa Cruz things-to-do list. 

One thing to note about this area is that this is actually popular spot among locals for their wedding shoot!

The railroad camps also have some of great Santa Cruz hotels you can stay in during your visit. If you are traveling with kids, it is strongly advised that select a place to stay. 

Bigfoot Discovery Museum

This is a stop you must make if you are looking for what to do in Santa Cruz. This spot can be found right off the Highway 9. 

The museum includes a collection of toys and feature appearances from “The Six Dollar Man”, “Harry and the Hendersons,” among others. 

One of the primary features of the museum is the Patterson/Grimm film footage. It plays on a loop at the museum. 

This visit is one of the most authentic Santa Cruz experiences. 

Visiting this museum will enable you to understand the story of Bigfoot, his discovery, and possibly even get informed about the existence of other primates. 

Wilder Ranch State Park

Any traveler that wants to experience Santa Cruz county with physically challenging activities must visit this spot. 

For travelers on a family vacation, this is one of the places to visit for bonding activities if the Santa Cruz weather is bright and pleasant. 

One of the reasons this spot makes the list of things to do in Santa Cruz is because of the hiking, biking, and horseback rides. If you are looking for a good way to exercise, this place is everything you are looking for.

Additionally, if the Santa Cruz weather does permit outdoor activities, you must make a reservation on the campgrounds. However, it is advised that you carry cash for a smooth reservation process at the counter. 

Brew Cruz

Now, this is an interesting addition to the Santa Cruz things to do list. 

The Brew Cruz is a tour of craft beer breweries in Santa Cruz county. The tours take place in one of the two vehicles they have. 

The first one is a 1989 Thomas International, better known as “Betty Jane.” The next one is a 1964 Split Window VW Bus, also known as “Slow Boy”.

During each of the tours, the passengers are entitled to a discount at the breweries and they also get to meet the brew masters of Santa Cruz. 

This is a great option as one of the things to do in Santa Cruz as you end your vacation. 

Mystery Spot

This is an interesting spot to visit during your Santa Cruz vacation. 

The Mystery Spot is a location that challenges the theory of gravity. In fact, it seems as though the laws of physics do not apply to this spot.

Visitors from all across the world make sure to include this in their Santa Cruz things to do list. As a matter of fact, a significant number of visitors return to the spot for a second time! 

If you are looking for things to do with kids in Santa Cruz, then you must visit Mystery Spot. It is a great way to spend a few hours and have a delightful time. 


The best way to plan a trip is to ensure that the places you want to visit are selected from before. In fact, doing research on ticket prices and hours will help you a great deal. 

Especially, if you are traveling with kids. 

Knowing what to do in Santa Cruz will ensure you do not come back with a heavy heart from missing out.