Travel Blog

Not-To-Miss Fall Events in Santa Cruz County

The secret’s out! The fall season boasts some of the best weather of the year in Santa Cruz County, plus it’s chock-full of awesome events, fewer crowds, and reduced hotel rates! Visit Santa Cruz is celebrating fall by giving away mini-vacations, activity prizes, gift certificates, and more! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see weekly prize giveaways, and to stay up-to-date with the latest & greatest going on in the county!

And of course, be sure to enter the Grand Prize Let’s Cruz Events Vacation Giveaway. Now start planning your fall Santa Cruz escape so you can catch some of these signature events:

Fire in the Sky
September 4, 2021
Kick-off your Labor Day celebration early! Join the Watsonville Airport on the 4th for food, games, entertainment, and of course, fireworks!
Location: Watsonville Municipal Airport, 100 Aviation Way #A, Watsonville

Capitola Art & Wine Festival
September 11 – 12, 2021
A fun weekend for the whole family! The Capitola Art & Wine Festival combines Art, Wine, Music and Food, all in charming Capitola Village overlooking the Monterey Bay. Summer’s last hurrah, and truly a weekend in paradise! Stroll the Festival and admire the talent of over 160 fine artists while sipping exceptional wines from 22 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries. Visit the Local Artisans Marketplace filled with locally handmade crafts and artisanal foods. 
Location: Capitola Village, Capitola

Santa Cruz County Fair
September 15 – 19, 2021
Five days of fun and festivities, including a large carnival. Safe, fun and affordable.
Location: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Avenue, Watsonville

Mountain Sol Festival at Roaring Camp
September 18 19, 2021
Enjoy this three-day annual music festival in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains at Roaring Camp Meadows. A weekend of great music, community, craft beer & wine, camping and art. Beach Train Shuttle also available.
Location: Roaring Camp Railroads, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton

Capitola Beach Festival
September 25, 2021
Capitola’s Annual Beach Festival will have something for everyone to enjoy! The community event will include a 3-Miler Fun Run hosted by the Wharf to Wharf, a Horseshoe Tournament, the Lighted Nautical Parade, a Fishing Derby, a Sand Sculpture Contest, the Chalk Art Event, a Concert in Esplanade Park, Rowboat Races and more! Join in on the fun at this free, family-friendly event!
Location: Capitola Village, Esplanade Park, Capitola

Open Studios Art Tour
October 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 2021
Open Studios is your opportunity to explore creativity in Santa Cruz County. For 35 years, our goal has been simple: connect artists with people who love art. For the first three weekends in October, artists from the redwoods to the bay open their studios so that friends, neighbors, and strangers from near and far can discover art in this stunning county.
Location: October 2-3: Various Locations in South County; October 9-10: Various Locations in North County; October 16-17: All County

Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza
October 10, 2021
A wonderful family event featuring a spectacular fireworks display. So pack a snack, bring your beach or camping chair, bring a friend and/or your family, and head for Capitola Beach, or the wharf, or the bluffs surrounding Capitola, and enjoy the wonder, awe, and majesty of the Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza. Remember the “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” as you look skyward!
Location: Capitola Village, Esplanade Park, Capitola

Boardwalk Bites & Brews
Thursdays & Fridays; October 14 November 19, 2021
Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz

Chili Cook-Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
October 23, 2021
Bring your appetite and join the fun as both professional and amateur chefs work their culinary magic and compete for the title of Best Chili!
Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintners’ Festival
October 23 – 24, 2021
Perfect for wine enthusiasts and newbies alike, Santa Cruz Mountains Vintners’ Festival is a weekend of discovery. Discover wines shaped by unique terrain and a maverick mindset. The Santa Cruz Mountains is a wine region for independent spirits with a taste for the extraordinary. It’s a place where soaring cliffs drop into the sea, steep mountain vineyards overlook idyllic small towns, and tradition meets innovation. Visit more than 30 wineries during the Santa Cruz Mountains Vintners Festival.
Location: Various Locations Countywide

Self-Guided Tours of the Monarch Grove
Mid-October – November 30, 2021
Take a self-guided tour of the Monarch Grove at Natural Bridges State Beach. Monarchs tend to arrive at Natural Bridges in mid-October, have peak observation numbers in late-November and early-December, and migrate out of the area by mid to late-January. The Monarch Grove Trail is open for self-guided monarch tours during park hours (8am to sunset.) Parking is $10.
Location: Natural Bridges State Beach, 2531 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

Hot Rods at the Beach
November 6, 2021
Check out hundreds of sweet hot rods, street rods, vintage, muscle, custom, and classic cars in the Boardwalk Parking Lot. Free admission!
Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Sea Glass and Ocean Art Festival
November 6, 2021
The Santa Cruz Sea Glass & Ocean Art Festival features genuine sea glass and artist-made creations while benefiting our local marine environment. The festival features over 40 artists, a chance to win an amazing gift basket 4 times each day, easy parking and a full bar and food are available for purchase.
Location: Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz

Wednesday Night Sailboat Races
Wednesdays through October 2021
Enjoy an incredible fall sunset! Harbor restaurants & the beach are great viewing areas to watch the sailboat races against the setting sun.
Location: Santa Cruz Harbor, 135 5th Avenue, Santa Cruz

Scotts Valley Farmer’s Market
Saturdays through 3rd Saturday in November
Come and get your fill of fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised eggs and meats, and local and sustainably caught seafood. In addition, find ready-to-eat cuisine, baked goods, and a full coffee and espresso bar.
Location: Scotts Valley Square Shopping Center in the old KMART parking lot

Redwood Forest Steam Train Rides
Trains depart daily; check the Roaring Camp website for times and tickets
Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves, and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad, and the forest. (One hour roundtrip).
Location: Roaring Camp Railroads, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton

For more information on planning a trip to Santa Cruz County this season, please take a look at our What You Need to Know blog that includes details on what to expect while you’re here, safety guidelines, what’s open, best practices, and more! #LetsCruzSafely

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