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The eatery is open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday, but frequently hosts private events. Check their Instagram for weekly hours.

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The area is littered with bars, mostly hang outs for college kids and laid-back locals, but there are a few upscale, romantic ts. Down the street and up some stairs, Red Restaurant and Bar offers similar fare in what looks like a very fancy, very dimly lit living room out of the s, complete with working fireplace and clawed furniture. Alternatively, Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar has a similarly simple and elegant ambience, knowledgeable and helpful servers, and a perfectly cooked duck breast. The Santa Cruz area has a lot of great beaches to choose from, and the picturesque Natural Bridges makes for a great setting for a romantic beach picnic. The traditional Asian tea house forbids use of any cell phones and computers, forcing people to become re-acquainted the old fashioned way: actual conversation. Reconnect with your loved one over a steaming pot of puerh tea, served Gung Fu-style.

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Having grown up in the city, my list for the best things to do in Cruz Cruz could go on and on especially in terms of places to Santa With that said, I tried my best to consolidate my recommendations to fun things to experience in my hometown. This list covers not just the city of Santa Cruz but the county as well, including places like Capitola, Aptos, and Felton.

With aroundresidents these days, Santa Cruz County is becoming a bustling medium-sized hotspot in California. Although there has always been plenty of natural beauty around Santa Cruz, there date now more Santa Cruz tourist attractions and places to eat and drink than ever before. One of my favorite aspects of sightseeing in Santa Cruz is that most attractions are completely free because most of them are outdoors. Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

I broke down this Santa Cruz bucket list by tourist sights, best beaches, local attractions, outdoor activities and hikes, museums, food and drinks, tours, day trips, and events. This is our 1 tourist attraction in Santa Cruz and the location of my first job when I was The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the most famous and oldest seaside amusement parks in California, with our Giant Dipper roller coaster dating all the way back to and a historic carousel from The park features more than 40 rides that are good for all ages. Case in point — my best and I have been going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk since we were toddlers and still visit regularly as adults.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is completely free to enter, you just have to pay for the amusement park rides, so you can just walk around and enjoy the historic park and atmosphere. The Santa Beach Boardwalk Boardwalk is also right on Main Beach, so after checking out the amusement park, you can spend the rest of the day lying on the beach. The Boardwalk is only open full hours from late May through late August, but, outside of those months, you can still usually find it open most weekends and during the holidays. The Mystery Spot is nestled in the midst of a redwood forest and showcases a of attractions that seem to defy gravity through a minute guided tour.

The Mystery Spot is one of the more touristy things to see in Santa Cruz, but still worth visiting at least once. If you want to experience the beautiful redwoods that surround Santa Cruz in a novel way, look no further than Roaring Camp Railro. Roaring Camp trains leave from the depot in Felton and take you through ancient redwoods in an open-air 19th-century steam train. Tours last 75 minutes and are fully narrated to give you a history lesson about the railroad and the surrounding land.

Chugging through the peaceful redwood forest on the Roaring Camp train is one of the most magical things to do in Santa Cruz.

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If you have an afternoon to spare, check out Roaring Camp. Grab your tickets for Roaring Camp Railro here. And the best part?

Talk about a deal! Established inthe Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is a must-visit on any trip to Santa Cruz because it talks about what Santa Cruz is most famous for — surfing! Check out the To Honor Surfing Monument next door to the museum as well.

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Santa Cruz is surrounded by the Monterey Bay, a body of water that has some of the most diverse marine life in the world. This is a good activity to add to your Santa Cruz to-do list if you want to learn more about what makes the Monterey Bay so special. The Seymour Marine Discovery Center also talks more specifically about the marine life on the shores of Santa Cruz and the conservation efforts being implemented along the coast. You can either walk through the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at your own pace or go on a tour. Blue, one of the largest blue whale skeletons in the world that is located right outside the center.

At 87 feet long, the skeleton really gives you an idea of how large and majestic these mammals are. Speaking of whales, there are a lot that migrate past Santa Cruz every year, making the city a top whale-watching destination in California.

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The whale watching tours run year-round because there are so many different types of whales that swim near the shore throughout the year — about seven different whales and seven different dolphins and porpoises to be exact. I love walking around Pacific Avenue, basically the street that makes up most of our downtown area.

There are various locally owned boutiques and coffee shops that you can spend whole afternoons in. It really gives you an idea of how weird and lovable Santa Cruz is. One of the best things to do in downtown Santa Cruz is to simply spend an afternoon walking around Pacific Avenue, poking your head into different local stores, eating, and people watching. Visiting and having dinner out on the Santa Cruz Wharf is one of my favorite things. In my opinion, this is the best place to watch the sunset and the surfers down below the cliffs at Steamer Lane.

I have so many good memories of West Cliff Drive, from adolescence to adulthood. Local tip : Grab a slice from Pleasure Pizza and a coffee from Verve and head to The Hook lookout point for a perfect way to spend an afternoon in Santa Cruz. One of my favorite hidden gems in Santa Cruz involves butterflies in their natural habitat.

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The butterflies arrive in October and migrate in February. The best time to visit Natural Bridges is in November when thousands of butterflies call the eucalyptus trees at Natural Bridges home. For 10 years, it was left as a useless 6,ton cement ship, until a company bought it and towed it down to Aptos to make it into an entertainment attraction near Santa Cruz.

They added in a full ballroom, casino, swimming pool, and carnival games. Unfortunately, this was right around the time of the Great Depression and the attraction never took off.

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The ship was then turned into a fishing pier, but due to its deterioration over the years that also closed down. One of my favorite free things to do in Santa Cruz County is to go window shopping around Capitola Village, grab an ice cream, and eat it out on a bench near the beach. The Village features local restaurants, boutique stores, and a location right on the beach. This is the place to shop for unique beachy Santa Cruz souvenirs. The ocean views from the restaurants in Capitola Village are maybe only beat by those on the Santa Cruz Wharf.

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Located at the end of Seabright Beach, the Walton Lighthouse was built in and offers stunning views of the ocean and beach beside it. After walking around the lighthouse, you can chill out at one of the best beaches in Santa Cruz — Seabright Beach. Make sure to spend some time walking around the beautiful Santa Cruz Harbor as well. Java Junction nearby is also a good place to grab an iced coffee or smoothie and sit out on the beach.

The best things to do in santa cruz from someone who grew up in the city! these are my favorite places to eat, visit, and local experiences to have around my hometown.

There are a variety of trails you can tackle at DeLaveaga Park for a light or strenuous hike. Hiking around this park is one of my favorite secret things to do in Santa Cruz, that mostly only locals know about. Some of the trails overlook the disc golf course if you want to check out the game and maybe find some frisbees. The views from there are well worth the hike. Every time I explore more of the DeLaveaga trails, I fall a little more in love with the beauty of my hometown. Local tip : there are mountain lions in most of the hiking spots around Santa Cruz, including the DeLaveaga trails.

One of the best free things to do in Santa Cruz in the summer is to enjoy the Friday night concert series that the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk puts on every year. Although most performers are either local or not super well known, there is always at least one or two nights that feature a somewhat once well-known band.

Case in point — A Flock of Seagulls graced the stage in and Smash Mouth makes regular appearances as well. The park features historic exhibits about the original Mission Santa Cruz residents and the life of the California Indians.

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If you want to step back in time to the s, head over to the Santa Cruz Roller Palladium. On weekends, they also usually include the limbo and hokey pokey at random times throughout the night. At over 20, square feet, they have a good variety of all kinds of books, a decent travel section yes, pleaseand new and used books for sale. The Del Mar is the most famous downtown Santa Cruz movie theater with oodles of character and history. Although the theater was originally built to be a vaudeville theater, today it is the best theater in Santa Cruz for independent films along with its sister theater, the Nickelodeon and midnight showings.

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Central California, and Santa Cruz especially, is blessed with some of the best agricultural regions in the whole state. I never realized how lucky I had it growing up in Santa Cruz in terms of fresh local and organic produce until I moved out of the city. There are a variety of local vendors selling everything from baked goods, to artisanal spre, and lunch and dinner options. The Catalyst is that place in Santa Cruz. A relatively new drinking establishment in Santa Cruz, Abbott Square was the first place that made me think of Santa Cruz as trendy.

They often have live music out on the patio on the weekends as well. First Fridays are monthly art parties in Santa Cruz that, as you probably guessed, happen on the first Friday of every month.