Things to Do in Santa Cruz, CA

A day in Santa Cruz offers so many sun-filled entertainment options. When we visit, we try to narrow down our list of things to do to two or three activities per day. Our top choices are usually:

  • Having brunch on the beach.
  • Walking the Santa Cruz Wharf and having lunch above the water.
  • Playing in the sand and dipping our toes in the ocean.
  • Going on rides on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
  • Visiting downtown for dinner.

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Things to Do in Santa Cruz, CA

For this particular visit, we started with brunch on the beach at Ideal Bar & Grill. We love this spot because they have decent food and an ideal outdoor dining area. The dining area is located near the entrance of the wharf, making it a great spot to sit down and relax after hanging out on the beach or walking the wharf.

After brunch, we went down to the sand. We set up our large umbrella and beach blankets, then busted out the sand toys. We have a little one, so beach entertainment is a must. She buried a toy and forgot where it was buried, built a few sand castles, and ran around in the ocean – it was the perfect amount of playing on the beach!

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

When our little one got bored with that, we packed our beach gear back into the trunk of our car and headed to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. They have a large number of children’s rides, allowing our almost 4-yr-old to thoroughly enjoy the experience. We went right down the line of her favorites, riding the killer whales, the planes, the boats, and the trucks.

After one last ride, the kiddie roller coaster, we had to break the news to our little girl that it was time to head home to San Francisco. She was exhausted and accepted this news with tired defeat. Unsurprisingly, she fell asleep almost instantly in the car.

My Outfit of the Day

For this beach day excursion, I wore a romper from H&M. I love how light and airy this blue striped romper is, I also love that it has pockets. I had no intentions of going in the freezing water, but not wearing a bathing suit to the beach feels wrong. For this reason, I wore a blue one-piece bathing suit from Target. Target always amazes me with their large selection of bathing suits.

To accessorize and protect myself from the sun, I wore a straw floppy hat. For maximum comfort walking from the wharf to the boardwalk, I wore a pair of sandals from Havaianas. I don’t normally wear jewelry to the beach, but I decided to wear a simple silver bracelet from Tiffany’s and a pair of silver and light blue earrings to add a touch of shine to this ensemble.

Coconut water straight from the coconut is one of my favorite things!

Some other things to do in Santa Cruz that I hope to share with you as the summer unfolds are:

  • Natural Bridges State Beach
  • Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
  • Lighthouse Field State Beach
  • Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Have you ever been to Santa Cruz? What are your favorite things to do when visiting?

Where’s your favorite beach? Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments!


  1. January 9, 2020 / 6:51 pm

    Hi Morgan,

    Cool blog. I love Santa Cruz so many cool things to do especially in the summer.

    • Morgan Celeste
      January 13, 2020 / 9:51 am

      Hi! Thank you so much! I agree Santa Cruz is such a fun place to visit during the summer months!

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