Where to Camp in Santa Cruz County

With an enviable Mediterranean climate and a natural splendor the stretches from the redwoods to the bay, Santa Cruz is a remarkable place to pitch a tent. Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-flannel-wool outdoorsy type or won’t bed down without a mattress, there’s a campsite that’s right for you.

KOA

KOA Santa Cruz
Minutes from Manresa State Beach, this Kampgrounds of America surf-themed campground is a wonderland for families. Its 230 sites sport a wide range of accommodations from tents to luxury cabins to shiny new Airstream trailers. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and firepit to gather around and stargaze come nightfall. Kids do what kids do best at a miniature golf course, coconut climbing trees, pool and gigantic outdoor bouncing platform. Grown-ups take five in colorful Adirondack chairs nestled in sandy patches scattered throughout the property. Forget sunblock or marshmallows? A convenient general store stocks goodies and essentials to supply your base camp.

Harbor RV

Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park
RV parks may not call to mind the most inspiring scenery, but this hidden spot along the Santa Cruz Harbor is a pleasant exception. 12 RV sites rest along the scenic North Harbor, bobbing with watercraft, just minutes from the coast and bayfront restaurants like The Crow’s Nest. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can even hop on a water taxi which shuttles guests around the harbor to exceptional Twin Lakes Beach.

Big-Basin

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin, California’s oldest state park, is a stunner. Magnificent coast redwoods — the tallest living things on earth — hidden waterfalls, and 80 miles of trails including the epic Skyline-to-Sea backpacking trek, make Big Basin a jewel of the state park system. Its campground features standard “car-camping” sites as well as 40 canvas tent cabins. Plus, if you’re running short on time — trying to squeeze in a weekend getaway — they’ll even stock your cabin with bedding and supplies so all you have to do is show up.

New Brighton

New Brighton State Beach
New Brighton is the perfect mix of sun, shade and beach. 114 campsites — both tent and RV — are perched on a wooded bluff of Pine and Cypress trees overlooking the magnificent Monterey Bay. The view from the amphitheatre and large picnic area will take your breath away. Meander the path that leads from the campground down to a large sandy beach to join families, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders all enjoying the calm waters of the Monterey Bay.

Seacliff

Seacliff State Beach
The campground at Seacliff State Beach rests along the same beautiful stretch of coastline as New Brighton but with more immediate access to the beach. Seacliff is famous not just for it’s grand fishing pier that juts out into the bay, but what you’ll find at its end: the ruins of a concrete ship! Originally constructed as a tanker for World War I, The Palo Alto was brought to Seacliff and used as a seaside recreation spot before it fell into disrepair. Today, you can still walk the pier, enjoy the beachfront picnic area or just frolic on the driftwood-scattered beach before recapping the day ‘round the campfire.

#PajaroDunesResort on Instagram…Thoughtful Thursday

Pajaro Dunes Resort is a peaceful and pristine slice of Santa Cruz County heaven. The oceanfront homes and condos are just steps away from private and secluded beaches that are sure to do good for the soul. Take a peek at the unique seaside resort as we look at a recent vacation to Pajaro Dunes by Instagram…

What’s in Bloom

Photos by Garrick Ramirez except where noted Here’s a colorful post to brighten your day: a virtual tour of the many flowers in blossom throughout Santa Cruz. The county’s vibrant floral displays are peacocking something fierce, luring both bees and Instagrammers. In fact, we shared some of our readers exceptional wildflower pics with a recent…

5 Best Bites at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Inciting jealousy among friends, I was tasked with selecting five favorite treats from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. To help me taste my way through a sea of cotton candy and deep-fried Oreos, I recruited a worthy assistant: my 5 year-old son, Felix. He gleefully accepted and asked every day that followed if today was…

Boardwalk’s Sky Gliding Caveman…Thoughtful Thursday

Young and old love spotting the cavemen and cavewomen around the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This guy has the best seat in the house with views of the beach and Boardwalk.  

Best Vacation Rentals in Santa Cruz County

Relax and stay awhile. With a rental home, you’ll enjoy a sunny Santa Cruz experience with room to spread out. Plus kitchens and multiple bedrooms are a boon for families, travelers with pets, and those on a budget (meals out can add up!). Take a tour of the following properties — organized by special feature…

#CreativeComfort at the Comfort Inn – Santa Cruz…Thoughtful Thursday

We’re crushing on this in-suite whirlpool tub at the Comfort Inn Santa Cruz on this Thoughtful Thursday…..sigh….    

Santa Cruz – Center of Attraction

Santa Cruz is a haven for all sorts of travelers. Nature enthusiasts? Check. Have you seen the endless beaches and redwood forests? Resort resters? Check. Just look at these peaceful slices of Santa Cruz heaven. Dog lovers? Check. No need to leave your pet behind. But arguably Santa Cruz is most widely known for its…

#SCWildflowers Instagram Photo Contest Winner Announced!

  The @VisitSantaCruz Instagram Photo Contest celebrating wildflowers has a winner!  We sifted through loads of amazing snaps taken by our friends and followers (ie; YOU!) and found an image which truly captures the spirit of #SantaCruzNow, Instagram, and well….wildflowers! Congratulations to Sarah B.! And now, here are some of the entries we received, in…

Train & Trestle at Roaring Camp…Thoughtful Thursday

DID YOU KNOW… That Roaring Camp Railroads‘ Indian Creek Trestle, which is shaped like a horseshoe loop, is the tightest turning railroad bridge in the United States! It is a 66% loop and when riding the train you can get a visual of the loop from the front or rear cars. Be sure to put…