Things to Do in Santa Cruz When You Have Time to Be Alone

Sometimes, the best way to explore a city is to just take off all on your own where you have plenty of time to see the things you want to see, have fun on your own time and get a good view of what the world around you can offer. When in Santa Cruz, you will find a plethora of things a person can do all on their own. Whether you like swimming, hiking, shopping or dining, you can have it all in Santa Cruz. To make it easier for you, here are the top five things you may find of interest when you have time to spend roaming around town on your own.



If you can swim, you can surf. Even if you are a little shy on the board at first, or you just paddle out and float back in on a wave, you will find that being on the water has a calming effect and is truly a great way to spend your free time while at the beach. If you don’t surf yourself, maybe sitting back and watching the other surfers will be of interest to you.


Santa Cruz is well-known as the best surfing spot in the nation, and if you don’t already know how to surf, there are plenty of great locals who will be more than happy to give you a few tips to get you up on the board. Cowell Beach is a great beach for those who are new to surfing as the waves are a bit docile but the area has a friendly vibe and meeting new people is going to be easy to do.


The Mystery Spot

mystery-spotThe Mystery Spot is truly a magical spot to visit and one that you will long remember. It is an area that spans approximately 150 feet and completely defies the laws of physics. Gravity is something that you cannot take for granted at this popular spot and some of the locals may tell you that there is an alien ship buried somewhere beneath the ground. You can take a 45-minute guided tour of the area and if you enjoy nature, you can take off on your own for a refreshing nature hike into the woods where you can catch a great view from atop a steep hill, see wildlife and beautiful flowers and eucalyptus trees all around and spend some serene time getting back to nature.


Glaum Egg Ranch

Glaum Egg Ranch, located in Aptos, is an organic, cage free farm where you can purchase eggs from a vending machine. Where else in this country can you pop a few bucks into a machine and get a dozen fresh eggs? While the eggs are being send down the chute, you’ll be able to listen to a silly chicken song and watch an animated chicken dance. While it may sound silly, it is entertaining to watch. Even better, you can take your eggs with you and have a great breakfast once you get home. This farm has been around since the 1920’s and is a favorite for locals as well as visitors in Santa Cruz.


Take a Hike

Hiking is such a peaceful thing to do and in Santa Cruz, you will find a wealth of trails where you can get back to nature and enjoy the wilderness. Big Basin State Park offers a great area for hikers and many tend to enjoy hiking to Berry Creek Falls. You may want to be in decent shape to hike to the falls as this is an 11-mile hike and you will be climbing up some pretty steep trails along the way. If hiking that great a distance is not something you feel up to doing, there are many other great trails within the park that will take you through the woods where you may catch a glimpse of wild rabbits, bobcats and other wildlife as well as some of the most beautiful natural scenes in all of California.


The Giant Dipper

The Giant Dipper is an incredible roller coaster right on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and it has been one of the most popular attractions since 1924 when it first opened to the public. The coaster travels at 55 mph and is a whopping 70 feet tall. It is one of the largest, and most popular wooden roller coasters not only in the U.S., but in the world. This roller coaster has not only been one that the young and young at heart have enjoyed riding, but it has also been featured in blockbuster movies including The Lost Boys in 1987 and Dangerous Minds in 1995. You can ride it one time, or you can grab a wristband at the ticket booth and get a pass to ride it over and over all day long.


You can also spend the day at one of the beaches that line the 29 miles of shoreline or take a wine tasting tour, a fishing trip, whale watch, ride a train or just take some quiet time and sit by the water and watch the sun rise or set. Santa Cruz has something to do day or night and it is the perfect place to venture off on your own to take time to have a little fun all by yourself.

Family Friendly Activities In Santa Cruz

ArboretumUCSC Arboretum – The Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz is one of the hidden jewels of the university and indeed, the town itself. (For the uninitiated, an arboretum is a collection of trees and plants.) The gardens are full of plants from around the world, particularly other temperate climates similar to ours like Australia and New Zealand. (There is also a large section of California natives.) You’ll see plenty of birds swooping through the air around the trees, particularly hummingbirds. You can find maps, hours, and more information about the arboretum here.

Natural Bridges State Beach – Natural Bridges is also on our list of best local beaches and for good reason: not only does it offer one of the nicest beaches, but it also offers plenty to do around it. In addition to the beach, you can visit the Semour Marine Discovery Center, check out the local tide pools, and in October, you can visit the eucalyptus grove to see the migrating monarch butterflies (a highly recommended experience). Since the beach is a the end of West Cliff Dr., there’s also the option of walking along the path that follows the coastline from Natural Bridges to the Boardwalk.

Museum of Natural History – Another great spot to visit for families with young kinds, the Museum of Natural History, is located near Seabright beach. It offers displays and presentations that explore the coastal community, whether that be plants, animals, or humans. It’s been around for over 100 years and is sometimes referred to as the “Whale Museum” due to the large whale sculpture in front of the building. The museum is located at 1305 East Cliff Dr. and close at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. on weekends (closed Mondays).

The Mystery Spot – One of our kookiest attractions is the Mystery Spot, which you’ll likely notice displayed on a bumper sticker on cars around town. Essentially, it is an old cabin in the woods that seems to defy gravity, due to an optical illusion created by a downward slope that appears to go upward. As a result, water can be seen appearing to flow uphill and visitors can stand upright at bizarre angles that do not seem possible. Definitely a treat for kids to take in, as well as the adults.

Roaring Camp Railroads – Roaring Camp is a passenger train located in nearby Felton. There are two main routes that it runs: through the forest and to the beach. The holiday lights train is also quite popular around Christmas time, when you can packed train cars on the tracks that run through downtown. A great experience for kids and adults alike! You can find more information about tickets and pricing here.

BoardwalkBeach Boardwalk – The classic amusement park on the beach, the Beach Boardwalk is one of the most popular attractions in town. It’s often filled with visiting tourists and out-of-towners, but make no mistake, locals like the Boardwalk too. Admission is free and there are tons of rides you’d find at larger amusement parks, in addition to the Giant Dipper, one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world. There are also more kid-friendly rides, as well as a video arcade, beach, and plenty of places to to grab a snack or meal.

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The Best Coffee Houses In Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz is known as a bit of an artsy town and with that comes a lot of interesting local coffee shops, from the spacious to the quaint, the standard to the quirky, we offer a little bit of everything when you’re looking for your caffeine fix. Hera are five of the best local spots to grab a cup of coffee and relax, get some work done, or visit with friends.

LuluLulu’s Cafe (Octagon) – Lulu’s “Octagon” cafe is in the in front of the Museum of Art & History. In addition to serving tea, coffee, and espresso, they regularly have art exhibits on display and are often involved in the First Friday art tours. It’s a great place to stop by for a quick cup before you head to the museum or go for a stroll through downtown.

Verve Coffee Roasters – Verve has several locations in & around Santa Cruz, including downtown and in the Seabright neighborhood, both of which allow dogs. The downtown location is significantly larger inside, offering patrons a place to read, study, work, or just enjoy a fresh cup of joe. The Seabright location is significantly smaller on the inside, offering only outdoor seating. It’s also located close to Seabright State Beach and some good dining options on Seabright Ave.

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting – In business since 1978, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting is a long-established local business in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. They use a small batch roasting process and have an strong commitment to fair trade coffee to help promote ethical practices within the industry.

FireflyFirefly Coffee House – Firefly is a small coffee house on Front St., near where it merges with Pacific Ave. toward the beach side of downtown. Sitting across form Kaiser Permanente arena, it’s one of the few spots on the far end of downtown where you can grab a decent cup of coffee. They also serve bagels and breakfast sandwiches.

Cafe Pergolesi – Cafe Pergolesi is a coffee house that’s in an old converted VIctorian house on Cedar St. near downtown. it’s got plenty of quirk and charm, with small and large rooms, nooks and crannies, and plenty of outdoor seating on the deck. You’ll often find Pergolesi (or “Perg”) is crowded with college students and young locals reading or working on their computers. The cafe also serves beer and has a small food selection.

The Abbey – The Abbey is an art, coffee and music lounge that is attached to and owned by the Vintage Faith Church. If you’re looking for that hip, relaxed coffee shop atmosphere with students and local professionals tapping away at their laptops, this is it. It is hands down one of the best public works spots in town and they’ve got plenty of caffeinated beverages to keep you moving. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as weekly live events.

The Best Annual Events In Santa Cruz, CA

From street fairs to flower festivals and film screenings to wacky races, Santa Cruz offers a little bit of everything when it comes to annual events. For a community of its size, there is a constant stream of things to do, many of them outside and often with a drink in hand if that’s if you’re preference.

GreekfestGreek Food & Cultural Festival – The Santa Cruz Greek Food & Cultural Festival is a three-day event in September that is set up each year on Church St. in downtown. Events range from live musical performances to community events and, as always, there is a healthy helping of tasty Greek food. The festival has been running for over 35 years locally and is complemented by the Greek Food Faire, which takes place in the Spring.

Woodies on the Wharf – One of the largest classic car shoes in the Bay Area, Woodies on the Wharf offers locals a glimpse at more than 200 wood-bodied vintage cars. Held on the Santa Cruz Wharf in June each year, it’s one of the signature of events for a city that has come to be known for it’s surf and surf culture alike.

O’Neill Coldwater Classic – Perhaps the most well-known annual event in Santa Cruz is the O’Neill Coldwater Classic. Held each year at the world famous surf spot, Steamer Lane, the Coldwater Classic attracts top surfers from all over the world to compete. It also attracts a large local crowd to West Cliff Dr. near Lighthouse State Beach to watch the action from close-up.

monarchsMonarchs at Natural Bridges – Each year, Monarch Butterflies migrate to the eucalyptus grove at Natural Bridges State Park and create an amazing, dreamlike sight for viewers. Hundreds of the butterflies cluster together in large clumps on the trees and start to become more active as the sun comes out, dipping and fluttering about the area. It’s definitely one of the top local experiences for outdoor lovers and you can learn more about it here.

Clam Chowder Cook-Off – One of the biggest events at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Clam Chowder Cook-Off generally draws a jam-packed crowd to the beachside amusement park. Local chefs, often clad in strange attire, put out their best clam chowder, which is then judged by different categories: Boston & Manhattan style, amateur and professional. (There are also other categories to keep with the fun spirit of the event.) Attendees can buy a tasting kit to try the different offerings from local businesses.

Wharf to Wharf Race – One of the hardest tickets to get in town is an entrance into the Wharf to Wharf Race. It sells out quickly, not just because Santa Cruz is a community that loves outdoor, beachside exercise, but also because it’s as much a celebration as it is a race. You’ll see entrants dressed in any number of colorful outfits, encounter get-togethers and music along the way, and get to soak up one of our marquee local events.

Open Studios Art Tour – Open Studios is an event featuring hundreds of local artists displaying their work in local homes, businesses, and office spaces for the public to see (and buy, hopefully). The event is held each October over several weekends and locations are spread throughout town. You can find more information about the event here

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The 5 Best Local Breweries In Santa Cruz, CA

Like much of the rest of the U.S., Santa Cruz experienced a boom in the craft beer scene over the past few years. It seems like a new brewery opens up about every month or two and the trend has contributed to our little slice of coast becoming a haven for beer lovers. This blog post reviews some of the most popular breweries in and around Santa Cruz. (Because this list is limited to five, there are several worthy places that are not included, such as Discretion Brewing, Beer 30, East Cliff Brewing Company, Sante Adairius, the West End, and the East End.

99bottles99 Bottles Of Beer On the Wall – A classic pub style brewery in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, 99 Bottles has one of the widest local beer selections you’ll find. While there, you’ll notice the walls are covered in small plaques that honor the patrons who have tried all 99 beers, complete with a short saying. 99 Bottles is not just a bar, however; they also have regular events like trivia nights and live music, as well as a full kitchen with standard bar fare.

New Bohemia Brewing Company – New Bohemia Brewing Company is a relatively new player on the scene in Santa Cruz, but they have quickly become a local favorite. Located on 41st Ave. in Capitola, they have both an upstairs and downstairs bar that provide a rotating stock of different brews. As with most of the local breweries, they have regular events that include comedy nights and live music. As of this writing they do not offer food.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing – The Westside’s local “hole-in-the-wall” brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing serves up tasty suds from their small slice of the Swift St. Courtyard. SCMB is a certified organic brewery that is family owned and operated. They opened in 2005 and their outdoor patio is one of the best places to enjoy a beer and soak up some sun. Directly across from SCMB is the West End Tap & Kitchen, a newish spot that serves up several beers of their own, along with some fancy food dishes.

Lupolo Craft Beer House – Another relative newcomer to the local craft beer scene, Lupolo is in downtown Santa Cruz situated between two other well-liked local watering holes: Hula’s Island Grill and 515 Kitchen & Cocktails. Lupolo’s has a bit of a fancier feel to it, but offers a great, relaxing atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to stop off for a drink after visiting the downtown farmer’s market on Wednesday.

Seabright_brewerySeabright Brewery – A neighborhood bar, restaurant, and brewery, the Seabright Brewery has the atmosphere and charm you’d expect to find at a popular local watering hole. The have ample outdoor seating, which is great at just about any time of day, as well as a host of locally brewed beers. Their food is standard bar food and appetizers, including a great (affordable) happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Besides local breweries, you can try out also Santa Cruz wineries, coffee houses, dive bars or casinos.

Reasons to Visit Santa Cruz, California

If you have not yet made plans for summer, consider visiting Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is known for having a beautiful coastline and warm weather. Other than its natural beauty and near-perfect weather, it is also rich in fascinating history.

You can lean a lot about the history of Santa Cruz at Wilder Ranch State Park. At this particular attraction, you can admire incredible views of the landscape and take a living history tour. Each month, people are invited to take part in the festivities.

Santa Cruz is located 65 miles south of San Francisco on California’s Central Coast. There are 29 miles of beaches in Santa Cruz County and 14 state parks. If you plan on flying to Santa Cruz, the nearest airport is located 30 miles northeast of the city.


Most Popular Beaches

  • Main Beach
  • Lighthouse Field State Beach
  • Greyhound Rock Beach Access
  • Friends of Santa Cruz State Park
  • East Cliff Coastal Access Points
  • Ano Nuevo State Park

Santa Cruz is popular for many reasons, but the beaches in this city are some of the most beautiful in all of California. If you are passionate about surfing, hiking, or just want to play a friendly game of beach volleyball, enjoy all three at a Santa Cruz beach. If you have a significant other, there is no doubt they will appreciate a romantic sunset with you at Capitola Beach.


Traveling to Santa Cruz is Inexpensive

With proper planning in your schedule and in your finances, you can enjoy a trip to Santa Cruz at a cost that will not break your bank account. Many of the attractions in this city do not require an entrance fee. If you want to spend money in Santa Cruz, there is more than enough shopping available for more than one lifetime.


You may check out our list of hotels, motels and vacation rentals you might take in account when planning your trip to Santa Cruz.





How to Have a Positive Experience When Moving to Santa Cruz, California

No matter who you are, moving is rough thing to get through. Getting used to new surroundings, people and a new job can take a toll on your emotions, If you have children, they will also have their own set of challenges to face. Moving away from close friends and family might jerk a tear or two out of your eye which is why sticking together as a unit is more important than anything.

At first, all you will know once you move to a new location are those who came with you. If you plan on moving to Santa Cruz alone, you might find making new friends or developing a regular sleeping patter hard to do at first. Make sure to do whatever you have to do to help you acclimate to your new environment easier.


Organization is Key

One thing that will ruin your move is being unorganized. You can make organization easy by purchasing the essential things used during moves. Make sure to purchase colored tabs, labels, packing paper, bubble wrap, wardrobe boxes, boxes, packing tape, and permanent marker. You should start by breaking down the largest room in your home first and using it as the main location for storing your items.


How to Prevent Injuries during a Move

  • Clear aisles and stairs of tripping hazards
  • Keep small children at a safe distance from the work zone
  • Never lift more than you can handle
  • Apply proper lifting techniques
  • Wear gloves, eye protection and shoes with sufficient traction
  • Pack one room at a time


Plan a Fun Event for the Family

If you are moving to Santa Cruz alone or with family, make sure to set up a date where everyone can have fun together. Look into popular attractions that spark your interest. Santa Cruz is not known for having a lack of opportunity and entertainment (including festivals and annual events). If you want to have fun when you arrive in Santa Cruz, make sure you start planning at least two month prior to contacting a moving company.