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10 Best fun things to do in Santa Cruz

Situated in Northern California, Santa Cruz is a dynamic tourist destination that boasts a historic and exciting boardwalk, excellent sandy beaches, surfing, and a dynamic city heartbeat. Now that the weather is moderate throughout the year, visitors of all ages can have loads of fun here in Santa Cruz. From the traditional theme park, commonly known as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, to Stand Up Paddleboarding at the Monterey Bay, here are 10 of the best and fun things you could do in Santa Cruz, California.

1. The exciting experience of riding on the Giant Dipper of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the greatest excursions one could ever have.

Although Santa Cruz is well known for its beautiful scenery and tourist attractions the most fun place to visit is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park where one can not fail to take a ride on the Giant Dipper rollercoaster. This Roman-style wooden rollercoaster has been giving its people a thrilling ride since 1924 with its steep drops, turns, and beautiful view of the coast. The boardwalk also has the necessary amenities such as the carousel, the log flume ride, and other forms of games, food, and other activities. As you can see, the boardwalk has attractions for kids and young kids and therefore, should not be missed in Santa Cruz.

2. Surf at Steamer Lane

It is not just the locals but tourists from different parts of the world who visit Steamer Lane to try out their stunts on some of the best waves that California has to offer. The continually breaking reef bar is fit for both long board and short board surfers making it a favorite spot for surfers especially from Santa Cruz. It is interesting to note that even if you don’t surf the ocean waves are great to merely watch. Pick up some fish and chips, and spend hours watching the surfers ride the waves, before the sun sets, for time-honored entertainment in Santa Cruz.

3. Kayak Elkhorn Slough

If you only want to relax and go for a peaceful canoe ride amid scenic surroundings, the best place to visit is the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Exploring the channels by kayaking enables the observation of various species of animals including the sea otters, the harbor seals, the herons, and the egrets. With various outfitters such as the Kayak Connection and Venture Quest, you can hire equipment and get a guided tour to ensure that you have the most wonderful experience in the water. The average width of the slough stretches to seven miles which is enough to convince any visitor that kayaking in Elkhorn Slough is one of the best things to do in Santa Cruz.

4. Savor Beer Flavors in Downtown Microbreweries

It can be stated that there is no shortage of craft beer in Santa Cruz and its downtown area is particularly rich in them. Even if you’re a long-time follower of the scene or a newcomer out to explore new breweries such as Humble Sea Brewing Co. – a brewery that has only been established for some time now – you will certainly have the ability to savor the beers of your selection in Santa Cruz. Some breweries have brewery tours for those people who would wish to have a firsthand experience of how beers are produced or have tasting rooms where they can produce and serve their beers. If you prefer pub-crawling between pints, you cannot go wrong with dropping into any of the craft beer bars, which are located downtown.

5. Visitors could take a walk at Santa Cruz Wharf.

Stretching into the Monterey Bay, the Santa Cruz Wharf offers an active and beautiful trip at any time. During the day watch sea lions and otters lounging on floating devices under the wharf and fisherman bringing in their daily catch. At night, cap off the evening with a cocktail or some wine as you enjoy the beauty of the lights while breathing in the sea breeze. While cruising, do not leave without enjoying such delights as clam chowder in a bread bowl, candied apples, salt water taffy bought at the shops, or eating joints at the wharf.

6. Water Activity: Stand Up PaddleboardLocation: Natural Bridges State Beach

SUP has become very popular in the recent past and Santa Cruz gives you the best Surface to try it for yourself. A more daring idea: rent a surfboard and go for a swim in the waters of Monterey Bay from one of Santa Cruz’s beaches. Natural Bridges State Beach can be usually expected to be rather flat in the morning, ideal for novices and intermediate levels. During your ride, you might see sea otters, birds, or other marine mammals swimming beneath you.

7. Trek through the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Adjacent to the coast just north of Santa Cruz, the Nisene Marks State Park offers visitors 45 miles of hiking and biking trails and over 10000 acres of dense deciduous redwood trees. Take one of the shorter and less challenging loop trails, such as the 2.7-mile Aptos Creek Fire Road Loop, for a relaxed and scenic walk amid towering redwood trees and various forms of wildlife. Carry some delicious lunch with you to eat after the hike at a scenic lookout or any of the picnic stations.

8. Shop and Dine at Pacific Avenue

Pacific Avenue is the main commercial area of the city of Santa Cruz and the immediate surroundings can be referred to as ‘downtown’. It is packed with stores that offer surfing equipment and accessories, beach wear and related items, furniture and home decorations, antique and novelty items, to handmade products. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, Pacific Avenue has fast food places offering the usual fare such as tacos, pizza, and so on, and other fine dining restaurants that offer gourmet versions of seafood and other Californian specialties. Do not also deny yourself the opportunity of taking a tour to have your ice cream or a pack of sweets too.

9. Wine Tasting Tour for the Region of Santa Cruz Mountains

The mountain ranges behind Santa Cruz grow premium quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other wines you can sample during a wine tour, in Santa Cruz. Visiting wineries such as Silver Mountain Vineyards and Hallcrest Vineyards take visitors up a winding mountain with scenic sampling rooms for great wines. Some tours combine tasting fees, vehicle transport, and meals in the form of light snacks to ensure that the day is too busy for wine tasting and is well managed.

10. Stroll and sunbathe at a beach in the afternoon

Bonfires are popular and are seen as a part of the tradition commonly associated with the beaches of California. In Santa Cruz, you can participate in the activities at Main Beach, Cowell Beach, and at other beaches where fires are allowed. Build your beach bonfire or enjoy the other beaches’ bonfire pits. Roast the perfect marshmallow for a s’more, play a tune on the guitar, and share conversation while listening to the crackling fire and the sound of the ocean waves. And as you close your day spend it by the heat of the fire.


The overall atmosphere of the city is that of a surf town, with its stunning beaches, numerous things to do, and places to see, Santa Cruz is filled with entertainment for everybody. From the traditional beachfront carnival to stand-up paddle boarding and even the extreme sports and marine life explorations, this place has events and attractions for all ages and preferences. Here is the list of the ten things to do that would give one the feel of the top things to do in Santa Cruz, a vibrant beach town.