Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Spring in Santa Cruz County

Springtime in Santa Cruz means blossoming wildflowers, bright sunny days with calm surf, and perfect weather for outdoor activities. Santa Cruz is wonderful all year, but the spring months bring gorgeous new life to the area after the cooler weather and rainy season in winter. Spring refreshes the landscape leaving everything greener, rivers running fuller, and beautiful flowers popping up everywhere you look! Shake off the winter and embrace the beauty of spring by reveling in these top 5 ways to enjoy a spring visit to Santa Cruz County!

Hillsides lined with purple lupines in Glenwood Open Space Preserve

1. ) Wildflowers

During spring, the lupines, California poppies, mustard flowers, and so many more wildflowers blossom to life all over Santa Cruz County. Vibrant green hillsides erupt with color as purple, yellow, orange, and blue wildflowers transform the typical landscape into enchanting canvases of color. The best way to experience wildflowers in Santa Cruz during the springtime is to get out on the trail and explore our public parks! From Glenwood Open Space, where the lupines line the trails, to the coastal bluffs of Davenport, where yellow mustard flowers carpet the ground, each park in Santa Cruz County offers a unique ecosystem of spring life just waiting to be discovered. Remember to stay on the trails and leave no trace when enjoying wildflowers because all ecosystems are fragile and easily damaged. To ensure the continued yearly return of our beautiful flowers, do not walk off the trail into flower fields or pick the flowers. Always enjoy with your eyes but leave the flowers untouched so others can also experience the joy of seeing them.

The Cement Ship Band playing at Abbott Square Market on a Friday night

2. ) Dining Al Fresco

Spring marks the shift away from cooler temperatures to warmer days and later sunsets, which makes it the perfect time to enjoy eating and drinking al fresco! Santa Cruz County is full of incredible options for outdoor dining, drinking, and events. Visitors can enjoy a Friday or Saturday evening downtown, eating and drinking outdoors at Abbott Square’s open market as live bands serenade audiences with music. Many great restaurants have open-air options, like Heavenly, where you and your friends can brunch on a sunny afternoon on their expansive outdoor patio. Whether you’re looking for a beer garden like Beer Thirty, or an outdoor brunch like Süda, there is a choice for everyone looking to take their dining experiences outside in the spring air!

The Dolphin statue in the Santa Cruz Harbor

3. ) Water Activities

One of the best ways to explore a new side of Santa Cruz in the spring is to take to the water! While Santa Cruz is known for its surf culture, the calmer waters and warm temperatures offer ample opportunity to try stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, or sailing! The Harbor and the Wharf are hubs for various water activities that allow visitors to experience Santa Cruz in an entirely new way. If you’re looking for a more leisurely way to experience Santa Cruz by water, check out a sailing yacht charter like the Chardonnay that lets visitors see some of Santa Cruz’s most iconic landmarks from the water while enjoying beverages and pizza. The O’Neill Yacht Charter also takes visitors on ocean excursions starting in April.

Rushing rivers in Fall Creek

4. ) Waterfall Hikes

After the winter rains, the rivers and waterfalls of Santa Cruz county come to life. A perfect activity when visiting Santa Cruz in the spring is enjoying one of our many extraordinary waterfall or river hikes. Henry Cowell’s Fall Creek sector features rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls full to the brim during spring. After heavy rains in the winter season, brand-new waterfalls appear across the county, especially on the coast, making for unique experiences that only happen in the spring! Scott Creek State Beach, just north on Highway 1, has a phenomenal seasonal waterfall that cascades down a cliff into the ocean below.

Cherry Blossoms at Bamboo Giant

5. ) Garden Explorations

For a more leisurely natural excursion that is perfect for families, there are several gardens in the Santa Cruz area to experience spring’s best features! The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Gardens house a huge variety of exotic plants, flowers, and trees from all over the world that come to life with the spring weather. You can take a world tour of flowering plants without ever leaving Santa Cruz! A fantastic free option is Bamboo Giant in Aptos, which has gorgeous bamboo gardens and a nursery. Getting lost in a bamboo forest full of blossoming cherry trees is a magical spring experience everyone will love.

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