Santa Cruz County delivers added value once summer ends, when mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower hotel rates help make travel more affordable. This season, there are plenty of free activities and events that won’t cost a penny. Below are a few of our favorite tips! For more info, check out our Top 12 Free Things to Do in Santa Cruz County for Fall and Winter.
Famed for its ancient redwoods, cascading waterfalls, and epic hikes, Big Basin Redwoods State Park hides a lesser-known coastal region with an identity and landscape all of its own. Named for the grizzly bears that once roamed its lush grounds, Rancho del Oso is a hidden gem with a dazzling spring wildflowers, enchanting marshlands laced with hiking and biking trails, and a magnificent nature center housed in a historic home once occupied by the family of President Herbert Hoover.
Everyone loves tasting the local cuisine when they visit somewhere new. Vacation, after all, is the perfect excuse to indulge and sample the variety of food and beverages a region is known for. With its rich soil and moderate climate, Santa Cruz County is an agricultural mecca with fertile fields of strawberries, tomatoes, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, vineyards, and apple orchards. It’s one thing to Yelp your way through each meal and snack break, but to truly savor each bite, you need to know the stories behind the food fueling your weekend adventure.
Spring has flown by, and that means it’s now or never: you’ve got to enter our incredible vacation giveaway contest! Have you been dreaming about basking in the sun, or soaring high above the waves on the Giant Dipper rollercoaster? Did you know that you can also zipline or ride a steam train through the redwoods, and experience some of the best wine tasting south of Napa, in the Santa Cruz Mountains? To better equip you for exploring Santa Cruz County by boat, bike, and more, our partners have put together some amazing activities to give one lucky winner the ultimate California vacation of their dreams! Enter our Let’s Cruz Customizable Vacation Getaway now–we’re almost at the end–and you could win a Grand Prize of: a two-night stay at the beachfront Dream Inn Santa Cruz, four tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and four passes to Roaring Camp Railroads, PLUS choose four additional activities from a list of uniquely Santa Cruz options! The contest ends on May 31, 2018, so act fast!
Zipping past the verdant agricultural fields along Highway 1 in southern Santa Cruz County, you might not guess that a stunning waterfront gem sits moments away. Just six minutes from the highway-and worlds away from modern-day bustle-you’ll discover Pajaro Dunes Resort, a hidden, coastal nirvana with a pristine white sand beach, seagrass-shrouded dunes, and more animated wildlife than a Disney cartoon. The secluded vacation home community offers guests a taste of exceptional coastal living, even if just for a weekend. Check out what makes it a special destination along the Monterey Bay, and enter our Let’s Cruz Vacation Giveaway to win your own coastal getaway!