The secret's out! The fall season boasts some of the best weather of the year in Santa Cruz County, plus it's stacked with amazing events, fewer crowds, and sweet hotel deals! Visit Santa Cruz is celebrating fall by giving away mini vacations and tons of tickets to some of the season's best events. Follow us on Facebook to enter the Fall Festival Fridays' weekly mini-Santa Cruz vacation contests with hotel stays and more, and our Instagram for event ticket giveaways throughout the season!
And of course, be sure to enter the Let's Cruz Events Vacation Giveaway with a Grand Prize of 2-night stay at the Seascape Beach Resort, bonfire on the beach with s’mores at Seascape, four tickets to Mount Hermon Adventures, and four passes to Roaring Camp Railroads for a steam train ride! Now start planning your fall Santa Cruz escape so you can catch some of these signature events:
Wings Over Watsonville
September 1 - 2, 2017
Fun, family-friendly and FREE! Friday night kids movie - Friday and Saturday fly-in arrivals. Food vendors, historic and antique aircraft, aerial demonstrations and much, much more!
Location: Watsonville Airport, 100 Aviation Way, Watsonville
65th Annual Capitola Begonia Festival
September 1 - 4, 2017
The 65th Annual (and final) Capitola Begonia Festival will feature free fun activities that all the family can enjoy, from a sand sculpture contest, a fishing derby, row boat races and a nautical parade of begonia-laden floats traveling down Soquel Creek. Check website for details and even more events happening throughout the celebration!
Location: Capitola Village - Stockton Avenue and The Esplanade
Santa Cruz Greek Food and Cultural Festival
September 8 - 10, 2017
The 37th annual, award-winning street festival is jam-packed with delicious Greek dishes, yummy desserts, Kafenio, Greek wine and spirits. Live bouzouki band and dancing makes for a fun, family friendly event in downtown Santa Cruz. Admission free.
Location: 223 Church St., between Cedar and Center, Santa Cruz
Mole and Mariachi Festival
September 9, 2017
Come and enjoy outdoor festival with local artists, food, wine and activities for kids!Free Admission.
Location: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, 144 School Street, Santa Cruz
35th Annual Capitola Art and Wine Festival
September 9 - 10, 2017
22 Wineries, gourmet food, fine art, entertainment, children art area. Admission free in Capitola Village By The Sea.
Location: Capitola Village, Capitola
Santa Cruz County Fair
September 13 - 17, 2017
Six days of fun and festivities, including a large carnival. Safe, fun and affordable.
Location: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds (2601 East Lake Ave., off Hwy. 152), Watsonville
Monterey Bay Birding Festival
September 23, 2017
Come see 200 species of birds in one of the world’s most picturesque areas of California on the Monterey Bay.
Location: 275 Main Street, Watsonville
Music at Skypark
September 24, 2017
Two of Music at Skypark’s most popular veteran bands headline the September concert: The Joint Chiefs start things off with their totally danceable fusion of funk, acid jazz and classic R&B. Extra Large follows with funky grooves rooted in blends of funk, blues, reggae riffs and Latin beats. Both bands have teamed up to produce Music at Skypark’s best-attended concerts in the past.
Location: Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley
Open Studios Art Tour
October 7 - 8, 14 - 15, 21 - 22, 2017
Explore the hidden world of art! Visit artists in their studios, learn about their processes, purchase original works of art. Mobile app and printed guide have artist information and maps.
Location: Various locations, Santa Cruz County
Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza
October 8, 2017
A wonderful family event featuring entertainment and a fireworks display. 8pm.
Location: Capitola Wharf, Capitola
Thomas and Percy’s Halloween Party ™
October 14 - 15, October 21 - 22, October 28 - 29, 2017
Announcing the tour’s most exciting year ever as hit entertainment debuts talking Thomas the Tank Engine and Thomas’ best friend Percy! Dress up for Halloween with favorites Thomas and Percy, for a 20 minute train ride, entertainment, and fun filled activities for the entire family. Check website for specific times.
Location: Roaring Camp Railroads, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton
The Missing Arm of William Waddell
October 21, 2017
History takes a tall tale twist as the saga of this early pioneer unfolds. The silly, slightly haunting tours around the redwood loop trail. Featuring music, storytelling and “Ranger Apples” around the campfire. All participants must register at Park Headquarters (registration opens at 6:30 pm). Free.
Location: Big Basin Redwoods State Park, 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek
Chili Cook-Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
October 28, 2017
Bring your appetite and join the fun as both professional and amateur chefs compete! 10 - 4pm, Tasting starts at 1pm.
Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Sea Glass and Ocean Art Festival
November 4 – 5, 2017
Featuring genuine sea glass and artist-made creations while benefiting our local marine environment. Held in the historic Cocoanut Grove Ballroom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 10am - 5pm each day. The festival features artists, a free raffle, great food, full cash bar and more.
Location: Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz
Ice Skating at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
November 11, 2017 - January 7, 2018
Skate to your heart’s content as you usher in the holidays and New Year! Check website for details and times.
Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Passport Program
November 18, 2017
Your chance to visit wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains not normally open to the public. Taste wine and have a great time. Check website for times.
Location: Various Wineries, Santa Cruz Mountains
Capitola’s Surfin’ Santa
November 25, 2017
Santa and his reindeer surf into Capitola Beach. Bring your Christmas list to review with Santa. Candy Canes for everyone! Event is free and is at noon.
Location: Capitola Beach, Capitola Village
Thank you to our 2017 Fall Festival Series sponsors: Annieglass, Beach Street Inn & Suites, Best Western Seacliff Inn, Comfort Inn Santa Cruz, Mount Hermon Adventures, Pajaro Dunes Resort, Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association, Seascape Beach Resort.