Visit Santa Cruz County
Not all of Santa Cruz’s colorful characters are found at the Boardwalk. Explore Santa Cruz County shores, and you’ll delight in rocky tide pools teeming with unique sea creatures that wouldn’t be out of place in a Dr. Suess book.
By Molly Ressler
When you think of backpacking in California, the Santa Cruz Mountains isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind. There’s a healing serenity, however, found beneath the towering coastal redwoods that protectively enfold our sunny stretch of well-loved coastline. A quick day trip from the metropolitan hustle of the Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountains are an accessible, much-needed antidote to the frenzy of modern life.
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!
By Molly Ressler
It happens every spring, but the transformation of a green hillside to a bright carpet of orange, purple, or golden blooms never gets old. The fields bordering Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz turn bright yellow with sour grass and mustard. Cheery orange California poppies pop up along the San Lorenzo River and striking spires of lupine create varying brush strokes of amethyst, violet, and fuchsia along the coast and in the mountains.
Henry Cowell is one of my favorite parks in Santa Cruz County. You get the quintessential redwood experience but you also get sunny sandhill ridges, grasslands (often roamed by deer), the peaceful San Lorenzo River, and the not-so distant sounds of steam train whistles echoing through the forest. It’s quite a magical place and anyone who’s been there knows just what I’m talking about.