5 Best Beaches and Beachfront Attractions in Santa Cruz, CA

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California is home to some of the world’s most popular beaches, and on California’s coastline, you’ll find one of its best beach towns, Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is is a city along the Monterey Bay that provides beach-goers with an endless array of activities and attractions. If you’re planning a trip to Santa Cruz, California, consider visiting some of these beaches and beachfront attractions.

Natural Bridges State Beach:

Natural Bridges State Beach is hands down one of the most beautiful beaches in Santa Cruz. Whereas other beaches have become overrun with bars, restaurants, and other attractions, Natural Bridges State Beach has preserved its austere grandeur. It’s also a California state park with biking and hiking trails, picnic areas, tidepools, and is known for its Monarch Grove — a temporary home for Monarch Butterflies in the winter.

Santa Cruz Main Beach:

Santa Cruz’s Main Beach is a popular stop for tourists and locals alike. It’s close to Santa Cruz’s most popular hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and of course, the Boardwalk. Main Beach runs from the San Lorenzo River to the Santa Cruz Wharf, which is a large wooden pier with dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Even though Main Beach is one of the largest beaches in Santa Cruz, it quickly becomes crowded because of the many attractions surrounding it — so be sure to get there early for a great spot!

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk:

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Image via Flickr by sneedy

Adjacent to Main Beach in Santa Cruz’s most popular beachfront attraction — the Boardwalk. After you’ve finished basking in the sun at the beach, explore the Boardwalk. From roller coasters and family rides to arcades and games of skill, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a multitude of activities for kids and adults. The Boardwalk is free, but you’ll need to purchase tickets if you want to ride any of the attractions or play any of the games.

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum:

Santa Cruz is a surf town. It’s also home to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which is an excellent activity for those looking to get out of the sun for a few hours. It overlooks Steamer Lane, which is a world-famous surfing hotspot in Santa Cruz. The museum features surfing photos, artifacts, surfboards, and other relevant paraphernalia.

Mitchell’s Cove Beach:

If you’re traveling with your four-legged-friends, then you may want to block off some time to visit Mitchell’s Cove Beach. This public beach is dog-friendly with designated off-leash hours after 4 PM and before 10 AM. It’s in a slightly more secluded area which means it’s less crowded than a lot of other beaches in Santa Cruz. As a result, Mitchell’s Cove Beach is the perfect spot to relax and unwind while on your vacation.

A trip to Santa Cruz would not be complete without visiting the beach or seeing some of the popular beachfront attractions in this coastal city. From tourist-traps like Santa Cruz’s Main Beach to more secluded gems like the Natural Bridges State Beach, you’ll have plenty of beach options. When you’ve grown tired of the white sand and crashing waves, you can explore some of the surrounding attractions like the Boardwalk, Wharf Pier, and Surfing Museum.

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