We could all use a break from the screens, get some fresh air, and enjoy a little weekend reprieve. A time where you can unplug, let go of the usual daily to-dos, relax your mind, and get a change of scenery. Hit your reset button and let the self-care begin with these perfectly peaceful and rejuvenating locales in Santa Cruz County.
Hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains is standard procedure when you need a breather, but there are some hikes that have a few extra Zen-inspired moments. Pogonip boasts some incredible hidden gems within the park’s 640 acres. A peaceful stroll along the Spring Box Trail leads to an unexpected spring-fed koi pond tucked beneath a redwood tree. Take a few moments and marvel at this surprising scene then continue on Rincon Trail where you will stumble upon massive 19th century limestone kilns with the overgrown appearance of an ancient stone temple. Behind the kilns is a spectacular rock garden whose stacks of balanced rocks are dotted with slips of handwritten notes and wishes left by visitors.
There are few places that calm the soul like at the edge of earth and sea. Davenport, located in the northern part of Santa Cruz County, is miles of undeveloped coastline with unencumbered views of the Pacific. The ocean air, sparkling blue horizon, sound of the waves, and the very real possibility of spotting whales from the cliffs, give this place the power to recharge even the weariest of travelers.
Redwood forests are the perfect retreat for a self-care recharge. There’s just something about looking up at an ancient redwood tree taller than the Statue of Liberty that grounds a person in the moment. Henry Cowell, Big Basin, Nisene Marks, parts of Wilder Ranch, and the Land of the Medicine Buddha are all excellent forests and trails to be in the moment and let nature do the talking. See our Top 5 Hikes to get even more blissful nature inspired outings.
Fall Creek is home to some of the dreamiest hiking trails in Santa Cruz County – and that’s not just because we think the “stream” setting on the sound machine was recorded here. Hike along creeks and streams as you head into the deep redwood forest of the Fall Creek Unit of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Birds and banana slugs can be spotted along the trail and pause beside the waters to find small fish, and for the keen eye, newts. Want more tranquil waters? Take a hike at Nisene Marks or check out our list of the Top Waterfall Hikes in Santa Cruz County.
Botanical Bliss (temporarily closed)
Trade that constant electronic hum of the work week for some peaceful solace at the UCSC Arboretum. With 135 acres of gardens and blooms, the Arboretum is a unique and beautiful place to walk through nature. Succulent gardens and botanical and foliage from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and California are all found on the expansive grounds. See a variety of rare fruit trees and bustling aroma gardens – bustling with hummingbirds and bees that is. Be sure to linger at the “Spirit Nest,” an environmental art installation by Jayson Fann that is made of Eucalyptus branches.
Updated June 2020