Travel Blog

What You Need to Know to Visit Santa Cruz County

The fresh ocean air, towering redwoods, miles of hiking trails at our gorgeous state parks, and many of your favorite Santa Cruz County eateries and shops are all waiting to say, “Welcome to Santa Cruz!” To help make your responsible travel plans a little easier, we’ve gathered some need-to-know information for your next visit. From safety guidelines and restrictions to best practices and what’s open, we’ve got the info you need for your next trip to Santa Cruz County. So stay safe, watch for updates, and please take the safety pledge before you come.

SAFETY FIRST

First and foremost, if you are feeling ill, please stay home, get well, and reschedule your visit to Santa Cruz. We are looking forward to your long awaited return (or your first time visit), but we want to keep both you, and our community safe.

Face coverings are required in Santa Cruz County in all businesses including retail stores, restaurants, visitor centers, drive-thrus, and in public areas where social distancing can not be kept. Please note that face coverings are also required when paying for parking fees at state parks and the Santa Cruz Wharf. And as of mid-June, California has adopted a statewide mandate on the use of face covering. Will you take our Safety Pledge to protect others and yourself by wearing your mask and social distancing?

Social Distancing is required in public areas and within businesses with those not from your household. In stores and public areas, 6 feet social distancing signage may be found to guide in these efforts. Please be advised, face coverings are not required during outdoor activity or at beaches if social distancing can be maintained. However, if social distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings are required.

Please remember that many businesses are adding additional safety measures to protect their staff and their customers. When visiting a business or point of interest, please be mindful and compliant with their specific safety guidelines. Examples may include but are not limited to use of hand sanitizer before entry and a limited number of guests or customers admitted.

WHAT’S OPEN?

LODGING

Hotels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, RV parks, and short term rentals are now open to leisure guests and non-essential travelers as of June 12, 2020. Lodging properties are required to comply with industry guidelines to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. The campgrounds at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park are now open, but those at Santa Cruz County state beaches – such as Seacliff State Beach, Sunset State Beach, New Brighton State Beach, and Manresa State Beach – remain closed at this time.

BEACHES

As of June 25th at midnight, the beaches in Santa Cruz County have been opened. With 29 miles of coastline, folks can find a spot to enjoy the Monterey Bay responsibly and safely. Please remember to keep social distance, wear a mask in public areas and when physical distancing cannot be kept, pack your trash, and be respectful of others enjoying the beauty of Santa Cruz County. Safety must remain the top priority for the Santa Cruz County community and its visitors. Please pass on a beach day if the beach looks too crowded to keep physical distancing. Stay safe and please enjoy the beauty of the Santa Cruz County coast responsibly.

PARKS

Santa Cruz County State Parks are open, with the exception of the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. Parking lots are open at nearly all Santa Cruz County State Parks and parking fees are in effect. Stay up-to-date on Santa Cruz County State Parks opening status and take the Parks Pledge here. And please remember, face coverings are required when paying your parking fees. Please note that most campgrounds are currently closed with the exception of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

DINING

From outdoor patio dining, modified dine-in options, curbside pickup, and takeout, Santa Cruz County eateries continue to adapt to safely serve their patrons. In many cases, including Downtown Santa Cruz and the Capitola Village, outdoor dining is being expanded to give more space to customers and staff. Places like Abbott Square Market and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing have included helpful signage to safely guide patrons. Check out our dining page for eatery ideas and be sure to contact individual restaurants for their current operating status.

POINTS OF INTEREST

The Santa Cruz Wharf, Capitola Village, and Downtown Santa Cruz are welcoming back locals and visitors to enjoy their vibrant array of restaurants, small businesses and shops, and outdoor spaces. Further openings in these areas and around the county are happening almost daily so be sure to check-in with specific businesses for more information. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Neptune’s Kingdom, Mini Golf, select Boardwalk games, Boardwalk Bowl, and a variety of food concessions and retail locations are open for business! Although rides are yet to open, guests are welcome to stroll, sit, shop and eat on the Boardwalk. Stay up-to-date with Boardwalk operations on their dedicated web page with openings, hours, and protocol information.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Please remember to be kind, courteous, pack your trash, wear your mask, and respect the safety measures in place and our community. For more information, inspiration, and continual updates on openings, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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