Fun in the Sun: Things to Do in Santa Cruz

While the city may be primarily known as a college town, there is no shortage of exciting things to do in Santa Cruz for lovers of nature and the outdoors. Nestled along the beautiful Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz offers residents and travelers alike the opportunity to experience oceanside fun in a warm and inviting climate. From fabulous hikes to a plethora of local options for food and drink, anyone looking for things to do in Santa Cruz will find themselves overwhelmed with options. Here are a few vibrant activities we think you’ll like.

Go Surfing

Santa Cruz is considered one of the finest surfing locales in the state of California, providing residents of the city with an assortment of gorgeous beaches to select between. From the Capitola Jetty to the wild and roaring Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz beaches can pack waves for surfers of all experience levels. 


This helpful Santa Cruz tourism website provides a catalog of excellent surfing spots within range of the city, with descriptions beneath each location providing details about the level of skill required to handle oneself in the sometimes torrential waters of Monterey Bay. In addition, these descriptions will also give accounts of the average crowd size that can accumulate at these beaches, making it a vital resource for those in search of a tranquil and undisturbed spot for enjoying the surf.

Take a Hike

Surrounded by the natural beauty of northern California, Santa Cruz offers convenient access to a wide array of spectacular and memorable hiking destinations. For any who find themselves more comfortable in pristine forests than congested urban settings, hiking spots like Big Basin State Park will allow for much-needed respite from city living.


Santa Cruz’s ideal location makes a variety of biomes available for exploration, from lush woodland areas to stunning beaches and mountain ranges complete with eye-catching waterfalls. Those who enjoy a change of scenery every now and again will be dazzled by the amount of things to do in Santa Cruz County’s bountiful environment.


Kayaking and Boating

While Monterey Bay is considered the main attraction for those seeking waterside things to do in Santa Cruz, it should be noted that Santa Cruz also offers a number of lakes and lagoons offering a slightly more subdued recreational environment than may be typically found in the city’s packed summertime beaches. 


Schwan Lagoon, for example, offers residents of the city a convenient outlet for fishing and boating away from the more bustling Santa Cruz Harbor. While Schwan Lagoon and the attached Twin Lakes State Beach can become quite crowded during the summertime, for most of the year the lake provides a relatively clear spot for relaxing journeys with a kayak or paddleboat.

Wine Tasting

In Santa Cruz, wine tasting is considered a pastime, and the past decade has proven that more than ever the industry still has the potential for fresh ideas and innovation. Santa Cruz is home to a number of the hippest and most cutting edge vineyards in the state of California, which is no small feat when considering the range of competition that exists in northern locales like Napa Valley. 


Wine tasting can be arranged at any number of wineries in Santa Cruz, though you will want to do your research beforehand to discover the exact process for exploring their selections. Often, the city of Santa Cruz will even hold wine tasting events that gather a number of prominent vineyards from across the area to one location for a celebration of their age-old craft.


Of course, the number one thing you should do in Santa Cruz is stop by Reefside and grab some great bud for your next session.