Ideally situated amongst the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, just a 20-minute drive from the Santa Cruz seaside, is the picturesque town of Felton. Oozing with small-town charm, this historic locale is home to towering redwoods, unique shops filled with local goodies, and a variety of restaurants serving up mouthwatering fare. Whether you’re seeking an outdoor adventure or looking for a place to soak up the local scene, Felton is overflowing with hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered!
Soak in the magnificence of the old-growth forest at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where the towering trees have grown for over 2,000 years. Hike around the well-preserved redwood grove, stopping to admire the 277-foot high, 1,500-year-old “Giant,” whose size makes it stand out, even amongst the other coast redwoods. Count the banana slugs, unique to this area, on the way. Venture past bracken ferns, further into the park, where you can dip your toes in the river and explore the sandhills, the diverse habitats that create a home for many flora and fauna that are unique to Santa Cruz County.
Lovers of all things mysterious and off-beat will enjoy stopping in the Bigfoot Discovery Museum before their time in the forest, so they can prepare for a potential sasquatch sighting on the trails. Thrill-seekers should head over to Mount Hermon Adventures, where you can tour the redwood canopy, cross suspension bridges high above the forest floor, and even go ziplining between the redwoods!
From Henry Cowell, you’ll hear the distinctive hoots of the Roaring Camp Railroads steam train as it chugs along through the redwoods. Hop aboard the historic locomotive, which is authentically preserved, dating from 1890. Cross over wooden trestles up to the summit of Bear Mountain for redwood views while you listen to the conductor tell the story of the railroad and this forest.
Standing tall over the San Lorenzo River nearby is the Felton Covered Bridge: this historic-landmark bridge was built in 1892 and is considered to be the tallest covered bridge in the United States!
Dining + Drinks
Nestled into the hillside just minutes from Felton’s downtown is Hallcrest Vineyards, a historic winery that specializes in producing high-quality, low-intervention wines. The location of the vineyard, in a sunny meadow surrounded by sky-high redwoods where the coastal fog rolls in to blanket the skies, lends well to varietals like Pinot Noir, and the apple orchard on the property means that wine isn’t their only specialty! Try some of their Scrumpy Cider during your visit and pack a picnic to enjoy overlooking the stunning estate.
At The Grove Cafe and Bakery, local Chef Jessica Yarr has whipped up a variety of organic, locally sourced, farm-fresh fare. From house-made pastries and breads to salads with a variety of fixings and buttermilk biscuit sandwiches filled with pasture-raised eggs and meats, the cuisine at The Grove has been inspired by the redwoods and community of Felton. Catch a glimpse of the downtown from the outdoor patio, where you can relax under a redwood while watching the liveliness of the town’s hub. Another relaxing patio is situated just down the highway, at Cowboy Bar & Grill. Sit in the shade of a grandfather oak tree, select from a western-style barbecue menu, and be sure to try the side dish that’s actually the real star of the show: Cowboy’s buttery, grilled cornbread.
If a forest picnic is more your style, head to Wild Roots Market next door to pick up some sandwiches and snacks from the deli and store.
Strolling along Felton’s main street, there’s an abundance of local shops available to peruse. Check out Mountainside Jewelry & General Store, a beautifully designed boutique filled with jewelry, books, and gifts galore. Admire the beauty of natural florals at Wild Iris Floral and Botanical, and discover some magic to bring home at Mountain Spirit, where you can find gems and herbs along with other metaphysical goods. For shoppers searching for secondhand treasures, pop into Abbot’s Thrift to scout out a one-of-a-kind prize to bring home.
The Santa Cruz Mountains are full of hidden gems that exude small-town charm amidst the towering trees. Discover the redwoods, the cuisine, the local goods, and the mountain community that make Felton a must-see on your visit to Santa Cruz County!