The Santa Cruz County you enjoy today didn’t spring up overnight. Behind its surfboard-filled shores lies a rich history of farming, timber, and, yep, surfing. Explore the many towns of Santa Cruz County—most founded in the mid-1800s— and you’ll discover numerous sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a California State Historical Landmark. Offering the next best thing to time travel, the following historic spots will immerse you in a bygone era.
Kick-start the new year with an energizing First Day Hike through ancient towering redwoods, sandy coastal stretches, and along soothing mountain streams. On January 1st, state parks across the country are offering free-guided hikes for the eighth year in a row. Get outside, connect with nature, and expand your knowledge of the wildlife, plant life, and people who were here long before us. In order of easiest to most strenuous, we’ve narrowed the list down to a few of our favorites. Whichever one you choose, you’ll start the new year feeling healthy, recharged, and inspired to explore more state parks in Santa Cruz and beyond.
Santa Cruz is known for its phenomenal wildlife viewing opportunities. Year round whale watching, birding, otters and elephant seals, and seasonal monarch butterflies have put Santa Cruz County on the map for many nature enthusiasts! But in December and January there seems to be a crescendo of wildlife that make Santa Cruz a wintertime must-see!