Things To Do
Santa Cruz offers some of California's finest beaches, ideal for surfing, strolling, sunbathing and sandcastles, along with a historic beach boardwalk, vintage roller coaster, sea lions lounging on a lengthy wharf with beautiful views all around, scenic drives and a host of other fun things to do all year long – many of which are within walking distance or a short drive away from Beach Haven at Seabright. Here are a few highlights to help plan your trip while enjoying your stay at the beach vacation rental home.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Voted the Best Seaside Park in the World the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has everything a kid of six or sixty could possibly want to spend an entire day, complete with amusement park rides, the famous Big Dipper Roller Coaster and many other great rides for all ages, mini golf, food, shopping and arcade. There's also free classic movies on Wednesday nights from June 21 - August 16, and free concerts on Fridays from June 16 - September 1 on the beach bandstand.
Santa Cruz Wharf. This 100 year old wharf is the longest coastal timber pile wharf in the country, stretching out a half mile into the Monterey Bay with a ton of shops. seafood restaurants and barking sea lions. Get your fish & chips, clam chowder and fridge magnets here. Check out the free annual Woodies on the Wharf event June 23-25 featuring more than 200 of these iconic pre-1952 wood-bodied automobiles, from 10am - 4pm.
Kayaking and Paddle Boarding. Rent wetsuits, kayaks and standup paddle boards from the Santa Cruz Wharf and be one with otters, sea lions, pelicans, dolphins, whales, seals and other marine animals in Monterey Bay. Set out yourself or take a Venture Quest guided tour. Beginners welcome.
Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. Visitors to the Santa Cruz harbor will find over 1,000 moored vessels available for commercial, recreational, or research opportunities. A boat dock and several launching facilities are also available to day visitors looking to rent kayaks, paddle boards or boats from nearby businesses. Private charters and group tours are available for Monterey Bay fishing, whale watching, sunsets and other fun excursions. Watch the sailboat races here at sunset every Wednesday night from March 15-November 1.
Seabright State Beach. Located between the Boardwalk and Yacht Harbor, and just over a block away from Beach Haven at Seabright vacation rental home, this state-owned sandy beach allows leashed dogs and bonfires at night. This is a very popular location to view not so legal fireworks on the 4th of July and spectacular sunsets every other day. Located nearly within walking distance at low tide is Twin Lakes Beach (also dog-friendly).
Ocean View Park. A great place to bring the kids with a nice playground, eight extra long super fun slides, half court basketball, picnic tables, restrooms, the occasional homeless person and an adjacent off-leash dog park with views of the Boardwalk’s roller coaster and log rides, and Monterey Bay. Just a short drive away (with free residential parking) or about a seven minute walk from Beach Haven at Seabright. 102 Ocean View Avenue.
Surfing. If you're an experienced surfer and a regular visitor to the area, you probably already have your favorite Santa Cruz surf spots, like Steamer Lane, Pleasure Point, Highway 1 and East Cliff. Newbies should start out at Cowell's Beach (you can rent surf boards, stand up paddle boards, and wetsuits at Cowell's Beach Surf Shop) or Capitola Jetty at the Esplanade. Take a surf lesson from Surf School Santa Cruz, Cowell's Surf Shop, Club Ed Surf School or Capitola Beach Company and you'll be shredding gnarly waves in no time.
Sunset Cruises. Treat yourself to a chill sunset cruise on the Monterey Bay on one of the O'Neill Yacht Charters (catamaran) or Chardonnay Sailing Charters (sailboat) complete with snacks, boozy and non-alcohol beverages, and killer sunsets – weather permitting. (Cloudy weather? You're still on a boat!) Private and public charters are available.
The Crow's Nest. If you like sunsets and boozy beverages but don't like boats then you should have a drink and an appetizer or two at the Santa Cruz institution that is The Crow's Nest. Get there early for outside seating and enjoy the panoramic views of Santa Cruz Harbor, lighthouse and wharf. The Crow's Nest also hosts its renowned family-friendly Thursday Night Beach Parties in the summer (June -August) right on the beach from 5:30 to sunset with reasonably priced drinks and barbecue, ocean/beach views and live music from local bands. Admission is free but parking is limited.
NOTE: When you stay at Beach Haven at Seabright we'll give you the insider information on all the very best places to fill your belly and imbibe – including those within walking distance, dog-friendly and/or deliver. Check availability. That said, we also feature a lot of these on our Blog as well.
Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. If you love nature and outdoor activities this protected sanctuary along Monterey Bay is the place to go for whale watching, paddle boarding, kayaking, tide pooling, fishing, or diving among the kelp.
Monterey Car Week and Concours d'Elegance. This annual event for classic car enthusiasts taking place in Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach and renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is not to be missed if you're a gear head. Stay the entire Monterey Car Week at Beach Haven and enjoy all of the festivities from August 11-20. Maybe even bid on a classic car or two at one of the many auctions before attending the main event, the world famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where the best collector cars in the world compete for best of show. In contrast, there's also the Concours d"Lemons in Seaside on August 19 to help the rest of us feel better about our own cars.
Museum of Natural History. The museum is located a block away from Seabright Beach and highlights the region’s diverse plant, animal, and human communities with exhibits focused on the natural and cultural history of the region. You can't miss it – it's the one with the whale in front.
Downtown Santa Cruz. A tree-lined happening city center, pedestrian and pet-friendly, peppered with boutique shops (go to Bunnys and Vans for shoes), art galleries, street performers, movie theater, concert venue and great restaurants. Stop by the original Pizza-My-Heart for a slice or ten.
Monterey Bay Aquarium. You may decide not to venture out too far or too often from your cozy vacation rental house, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium is worth the drive, especially with its new Viva Baja exhibit. Plus all the sharks, and otters and rays (oh my).
Wine Tasting. The Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in America with over 70 boutique wineries, many of which family-owned. Visit Bonny Doon Vineyard in Davenport and sample some tasty Rhone reds.
Beer Guzzling. If you're in the mood for something hoppier, go to New Bohemia Brewing Co., an industrial-chic craft brewery and taproom for European-style lagers and creative ales, plus cheese & charcuterie snacks. Located on 41st Ave. There's also the Pour Taproom on Cooper Street in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz – a lively serve-it-yourself, pay-by-the-ounce taproom with beer, wine & snacks in a modern setting with 70 types of beer, wine and cider. And there's Seabright Brewery just two blocks away from your cozy vacation rental house, with its dog-friendly outdoor patio, rotating handcrafted beer selection, casual dining and 5 large screen TVs for the sports.
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Located inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse the museum celebrates over 100 years of surfing history and culture.
Yoga. The dedicated and experienced teachers at Pleasure Point Yoga offer yoga classes seven days a week, whether you're new to yoga or have been practicing for years. They also teach sessions every other Saturday at Sunny Cove Beach. Pacific Edge’s Yoga studio also provides a selection of diverse classes each week to keep you stretched out & relaxed along with a climbing gym.
Capitola Village. Spend an afternoon at the charming Capitola Village with over 70 shops and restaurants just four miles south of Santa Cruz. Come to the Sunday Art & Music at the Beach series in the summer at the Esplanade and take in local art and live music.
Spring Break. Forget Florida. Santa Cruz is the place to go for spring break, which usually runs between April 1-16 for most of us. Forget the books and hit the beach and the Boardwalk! Stay a little longer and spend the Easter weekend holiday here too.
Mavericks. While the Titans of Mavericks surf competition in Half Moon Bay may now be a thing of the past since the organizers filed for bankruptcy, the massive waves reaching up to 60 feet will always still be there. Check out the giant swells from a safe distance onshore from Pillar Point Harbor in the winter, best usually anywhere from November 1 - March 31. Hopefully the competition will return next year along with the tasty waves.
Holiday Getaways. Santa Cruz is the perfect getaway for the holidays. What better way to celebrate the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Years, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, than on the coast? Also a great place to spend Mother's Day and Father's Day weekends – treat them to a weekend at the beach! And don't forget about Memorial Day, Labor Day, Arbor Day, Columbus Day and, of course, the 4th of July Independence Day – watch the amazing fireworks show on Seabright Beach!
Romantic Getaway. Spend Valentine's Day or a quiet weekend away with your special someone at the beach, take a couple of roadies with you and watch the sunset, walk to La Posta for a romantic candlelight dinner, have a soak in the private hot tub, play some Barry White on the Sonos and... curl up together and watch Fallon?
Graduation. This year's graduation commencement ceremonies for the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) take place June 16-18. You'll need a place to stay nearby. Book early. Go Banana Slugs!
Santa Cruz Beach Train. Take a ride on a classic steam train departing the Santa Cruz Mountains and traveling through the Redwoods State Park, down the scenic San Lorenzo River Gorge, across a 1909 steel truss bridge and through a 1875 tunnel before arriving at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Reverse round trips are also available. The train departs weekends during Spring and Fall and daily in the Summer. You can also spend a day out with the kiddos and Thomas the Tank Engine with a tour through the Big Trees, including train ride, photos, tattoos you won't regret later, face painting, bouncy houses and more. Tour runs July 28 - 30 and August 4 - 6.
In the winter celebrate the holiday season with a festive train ride on the Polar Express Train, Holiday Lights Train or Chanukah Train. All trains depart from the Boardwalk.
Play Around. Specifically, play a round of golf. There are a number of great golf courses in Santa Cruz if you can pull yourself away from your relaxing vacation rental home and nearby beach. Be the ball. Golf can be relaxing, right? There's always the 18-hole Buccaneer Bay Mini Golf option located inside Neptune's Kingdom on the Beach Boardwalk.
Get The Spare. If golf isn't your bag maybe bowling is more up your alley. Located right across the Boardwalk Arcade is Boardwalk Bowl. Just remember: This is bowling. There are rules.
Go Take a Hike. There are a number of fantastic hiking trails in Santa Cruz County and if you want to go see some big red trees jump in the car and go to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton.
Go For a Run. Train hard or don't for the annual Santa Cruz Half Marathon in April. 10K and 5K options available. There's also the Surfer's Path Marathon in February, and Capitola Half Marathon in May along the beautiful California coastline.
Get On Your Bike And Ride. Or walk, run or drive along West Cliff Drive – just two blocks from your Beach Haven rental home – from the Wharf to Natural Bridges and back (four+ miles round trip) next to the ocean with amazing views. Rated #1 of 80 things to do in Santa Cruz by TripAdvisor. Watch the surfers, dolphins and people passing by. Take the dog. Especially great at sunrise and sunset.
Natural Bridges State Park. This beach, known for its natural bridge, is an excellent place for viewing shore birds, monarch butterflies (winter and spring), migrating whales, seals, otters and tidepools with sea stars, shore crabs, and sea anemones. Bring a picnic lunch (tables, barbecues, water faucets and restroom facilities are available) but there is no camping on the beach at night, which closes at sunset. Natural Bridges is a family friendly beach but if you venture too far you'll run into the 2222 nude beach and be over dressed.
Mystery Spot. What is the Mystery Spot? Its a "gravity defying" tourist trap located in the redwoods forests just outside of Santa Cruz, but a really fun one if you're into that sort of thing, optical illusions, short tours and have a sense of humor. Get the Mystery Spot bumper sticker to cover up your Raiders/Chargers/Rams one.
Whale Watching Tour. Climb aboard a charter boat and head out to the Monterey Bay to see some whales, dolphins & porpoises. Look for Humpback Whales from April through November, and Gray Whales from December through April, along with some sea lions, seals, otters and maybe a shark or two. Check out Santa Cruz Whale Watching Tours by Stagnaro Charters.
Your relaxing Santa Cruz beach getaway starts here. Check Availability.
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