Travel Blog

Fall Festival Series 2019!

The secret’s out! The fall season boasts some of the best weather of the year in Santa Cruz County, plus it’s chalked full of awesome events, fewer crowds, and sweet hotel deals! Visit Santa Cruz is celebrating fall by giving away mini vacations, activities and tons of tickets to some of the season’s best events. 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 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, a $75 gift card to Sanderlings Restaurant, 4 passes to Roaring Camp Railroads and a Craft Bar experience for 4 at Annieglass! Now start planning your fall Santa Cruz escape so you can catch some of these signature events:

Mole and Mariachi Festival – September 7th, 2019

The seventh annual Mole and Mariachi Festival will feature Mariachi music, Folklorico dancers, local food, wine and beer. Sample Mole, a traditional Mexican sauce and vote for your favorite. There will also be a raffle, mercado shops and kids activities. Event made possible by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, and California State Parks.

Location: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

Phone Number: 831.425.5849

Santa Cruz County Fair – September 11-15th, 2019

Five days of fun and festivities, including a large carnival. Safe, fun and affordable.

Location: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds

Phone Number: 831.724.5671

37th Annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival – September 14-15th, 2019

The Capitola Art & Wine Festival combines Art, Wine, Music and Food, all in charming Capitola Village overlooking the beautiful Monterey Bay. Over 150 fine artists and 22 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries will participate in this year’s Festival. Be sure to visit the Local Artisans Marketplace where you will find unique and locally made artisan foods and crafts. A Kids Art & Music zone with ongoing craft projects and musical play is conveniently located in the center of the Festival on Lawn Way. Enjoy great entertainment all weekend including local dance groups, street performers and live music. Because of the large volume of human traffic, we ask that you not bring your pets with you. Free bike valet parking. Admission is free! Fee for wine tasting: Purchase a 2019 Festival Glass ($12) and tasting tokens ($1 each) at a Glass & Token Booth. Tastings vary between 2-4 tokens. ‘

Location: Capitola Village

Phone Number: 831.425.1234

Monterey Bay Birding Festival – September 20-22nd, 2019

You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see more than 250 species in one of the world’s greatest environments.

Location: Watsonville Civic Plaza

Santa Cruz Mountains Sol Festival – September 20-22nd, 2019

Three annual day 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 (Saturday and Sunday only) also available. 2019 Artists: Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Dead & Co) and Wolf Bros, Chicano Batman, Beats Antique, Billy Strings, Turkuaz, Golden Gate Wingmen, Achilles Wheel, Painted Mandolin, Toubab Krewe and more to be announced! Get on the Sol Train! We are Stoked to announce for the 2019 Mountain SOL Festival there will be a round trip train shuttle. Imagine, no driving, no parking fees and no traffic! Grab your friends and loved one’s and get on board. Complete your festival experience with a moon lit train ride back to Santa Cruz! The SOL Train will only operate on Saturday and Sunday. The SOL Train will depart the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk around 11:15 am. (Train will arrive at the venue at about 12:15) and the return departure from Felton will be about 20 minutes after the last act. The SOL Train will arrive up to 20 minutes past the time of the opening artists. If seeing the first act from the beginning is important to you. Please find another way to the festival.  The train ticket is for the round trip train service from Santa Cruz to Felton and return. One way tickets are not for sale. This is a non refundable ticket. Please arrive to the boardwalk at least 15 minutes prior to the departure. Roaring Camp and SOL Festival are not responsible if you miss the train. Seats are limited. They’ll only be one train up and one train back. Advance train tickets are required. A separately purchased Festival ticket is required for entry into the venue. Children under 10 are free with paid adult. Discounted youth tickets will be available for ages 11-17, purchased with an adult ticket.

Location: Roaring Camp Railroads

Phone Number: 831.335.4484

Boardwalk Bites and Brews – September 28, 2019

This food festival celebrates everyone’s favorite amusement park foods paired with Santa Cruz County’s best craft beers! Local brewers have been challenged to select (or brew up) a beer that best complements a Boardwalk menu item. With foods ranging from corn dogs and garlic fries to crepes and chocolate-covered bacon, the intriguing combinations offer a little something for everyone. Meet local brewers, taste great food and sample an impressive list of more than two dozen local craft beers. Beer tastes available while supplies last, purchase passport ahead! IDs WILL BE CHECKED and “21+ tasting wristbands” will be provided. All beer tastes must be purchased online or at a Boardwalk ticket booth, no sales at the beer tasting booths. 

Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Phone Number: 831.423.5590

Capitola Beach Festival – September 28, 2019

Capitola’s 2nd 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 us for this free, family-friendly, and fun event. Saturday, September 28th: Little Wharf 3 Miler Fun Run 8:00-11:00 am. Must preregister. Shuttles available, Sand Sculpture Contest 8:00 am-12:00 pm; Awards at 1:00 pm. Registration online or on Capitola Beach at 8:00 am, Poster artist Shane’ Mann will be signing posters 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, Music at the Beach: Extra Large 4:00 – 6:00 pm, Lighted Nautical Parade on Soquel Creek Approximately 7:00 – 8:00 pm. Sunday, September 29th: Fishing Derby 6:30 – 11:30 am, Registration begins at 6:30 am near the end of the Capitola Wharf. Bring your own fishing poles. Open to all ages. Final Tally begins at 11:00 am, Horseshoes on the Sand 7:00 am – Finish, Participants must pre-register online or at 831.475.6522, Chalk Art on the Seawall 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Sign up at Esplanade Park. Children pre-school age and above are welcome to create their own masterpiece. Art chalk provided, Poster artist Shane’ Mann will be signing posters 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, Rowboat Races 1:00 pm – Finish. Registration at the pathway by the Stockton Bridge from 12:00 – 1:00 pm. Two people per boat. We supply the boats!

Location: Capitola Village

Phone Number: 831.425.1234

Music at Skypark- September 29, 2019

The free community-wide “Music at Skypark” concert series benefiting the music programs in local public schools returns for its 10th summer season on the last Sundays of July, August and September. Two bands will perform at each concert, and local businesses will offer food and other concessions for sale and entertainment for kids.

Location: Skypark

Phone Number: 831.438.3251

Open Studios Art Tour – October 5 – 6, 12 – 13, 19 – 20, 2019

Explore the hidden world of art! Visit artists in their studios, learn about their processes, purchase original works of art. Free mobile app and printed guide have artist information and maps.

Phone Number: 831.429.7281

Thomas and Percy’s Halloween Party – October 12 – 13, 19 – 20, 26 – 27, 2019

Little engineers won’t believe their eyes, or their ears! Percy will be joining Thomas the Tank Engine on the rails! Also, Thomas the Tank Engine™ will be able to talk to his fans! Dress up for Halloween with favorites Thomas™ and Percy™, for a 20 minute train ride, entertainment, and fun filled activities for the entire family. Activities include: Temporary Tattoos, Face Painting, Story Telling, Videos, Train Play Tables, Pick a Pumpkin (small pumpkins for little ones), Cookie decorating, photos with Sir Topham Hatt, Thomas store and entertainment. 

Location: Roaring Camp Railroads

Phone Number: 831.335.4484

Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza – October 13, 2019

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

Phone Number: 831.425.1234

Welcome Back Monarchs Day – October 13, 2019

Join us in welcoming the Monarchs back to this park, their over-wintering habitat. Participate in numerous activities including arts & crafts, active games for kids, music by the 5M’s (The Mostly Mediocre Musical Monarch Mariposas), hand-cranked ‘Monarch’ ice cream (pumpkin), information and action booths as well as more about Monarch butterflies and how-to’s for a butterfly garden. This event is appropriate for all ages. Event made possible by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, and California State Parks.

Location: Natural Bridges State Beach

Phone Number: 831.423.4609

Chili Cook-Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – October 26, 2019


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

Phone Number: 831.423.5590

The Missing Arm – October 26, 2019

History takes a tall tale twist as the saga of this early pioneer unfolds. Silly, slightly haunting tours around the redwood loop trail. Enjoy the redwoods on a fall night with music, storytelling and “Ranger Apples” around the campfire. All participants must register at Big Basin Redwoods State Park Headquarters. Event made possible by Mountain Parks Foundation and California State Parks.

Location: Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Phone Number: 831.338.8861

Santa Cruz Sea Glass & Ocean Art Festival – November 2-3rd, 2019

The Santa Cruz Sea Glass & Ocean Art Festival features genuine sea glass and artist-made creations while benefiting our local marine environment. This year the festival celebrates its 11th anniversary. 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

Phone Number: 831.423.5590

Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Passport Celebration Day – November 16, 2019

SCMWA Passports are a great way to experience the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region. Passport Celebration Days occur four times a year on the third Saturday of January, April, July and November. Passport holders are welcomed into 50+ wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Location: Various Wineries in Santa Cruz County

Phone Number: 831.685.8463

Boardwalk Holiday Ice -November 16, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Celebrate this holiday season with a new family tradition, ice skating at the Boardwalk! Festivities and Fun: Ice Skating by the Beach, on Real Ice! Select Boardwalk Rides and Games, Indoor Arcades, Mini Golf, and Laser Tag. Delicious Boardwalk Treats to eat. Classic Holiday Movies. Kids Craft Activities and Holiday Lights and Decorations! Schedule, reservations and tickets will be available online.

Location: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Phone Number: 831.423.5590

Capitola’s Surfin’ Santa – November 30, 2019

Ho…Ho…Ho! By Outrigger canoe and surfboard, Surfin’ Santa and the Reindeer will make their way to the shores of Capitola for their annual visit. Join us on the beach to welcome Santa’s wave riding arrival. Once Santa lands on shore, he’ll joyfully greet the crowd before settling in his beach chair for a nice long visit with all the kids. Be sure to bring your camera to capture a memorable day in Capitola…it makes the perfect Christmas card photo! Enjoy refreshments and face painting while waiting to visit with Santa.

Location: Capitola Beach

Phone Number: 831.475.6522