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 you don’t want to miss! From music, sea glass, and wine festivals to art and monarch butterfly tours, there is something for everyone this fall in Santa Cruz County. Take a look below for some of the best events happening this season:

Fire in the Sky
September 3, 2022
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

Santa Cruz Greek Festival
September 9 10, 2022
Enjoy traditional Greek cuisine, music, and dancing beginning Friday evening from 5 – 10 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.
Location: Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, 223 Church Street at the corner of Center and Church, next to the Civic Auditorium

39th Annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival
September 10 – 11, 2022
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 14 – 18, 2022
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 17 18, 2022
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 24 – 25, 2022
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

Artist and Open Studios participant, Bridget Henry, works on her multi layered hand carved woodcut prints. Photo by Crystal Birns

Open Studios Art Tour
October 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 2022
Open Studios is your opportunity to explore creativity in Santa Cruz County. For for over 35 years, their 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 1-2: Various Locations in North County; October 8-9: Various Locations in South County; October 15-16: All County

Open Farm Tours
October 8 – 9, 2022
Get to know your farmers and get a behind-the-scenes look into our regions vibrant working agricultural landscapes at the Open Farm Tours! There are 15 participating farms this year and a variety of activities. Press apples for fresh juice at one farm, taste over 10 varieties of figs at another, and then head over to another farm to pick tomatoes. Touring farms is a fantastic outdoor family activity and fall is a great time to get out and explore!
Location: Various Farms; see map for location information

Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza
October 9, 2022
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

Chili Cook-Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
October 22, 2022
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

Self-Guided Tours of the Monarch Grove
Mid-October – January
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

Capitola Plein Air Festival
October 31 – November 6, 2022
Capitola Plein Air is back! This November, forty professional artists will arrive in Capitola to paint the town…literally! Artists set up their easels on the wharf, shore, and streets of beautiful Capitola, to paint live for four days (between October 31 – November 6). You’ll find hundreds of paintings on display, for sale, and entered into a competition on Sunday, November 7. You can take home a piece of Capitola culture, vote for your favorites for the People’s Choice Award, have a delicious meal from the food trucks, or get creative and make some art yourself.
Location: Various locations in Capitola and the Capitola Village

Hot Rods at the Beach
November 5, 2022
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 5 – 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 2022
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: 5060 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley

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

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