Welcome to Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a city of madcap fun, with a vibrant but chaotic downtown. On the waterfront is the famous beach boardwalk, and in the hills redwood groves embrace the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus. Plan at least half a day here, but to appreciate the aesthetic of jangly skirts, crystal pendants and Rastafarian dreadlocks, stay longer and plunge headlong into the rich local brew of surfers, students, punks and eccentric characters.

Top experiences in Santa Cruz

Amazing hotels and hostels

We've pre-picked the best hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

Santa Cruz activities

$32 Sightseeing Tickets & Passes

Santa Cruz Redwoods Roaring Camp Steam Train Ride in Felton

Experience California’s redwoods as never before, by taking a steam train through one of the Golden State’s towering ancient forests. Be inspired by both the natural beauty of the groves and the engineering prowess of this hulking locomotive, which dates back to the 1890s. Hop aboard the train at Roaring Camp in Felton, near the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, just 80 miles south of San Francisco. Settle into your open-air car and hang on as you chug past hundreds of old-growth redwoods with an unobstructed view. As you make your way up to the top of Bear Mountain, you’ll cruise over trestles and glide beneath the verdant canopy. Along the way, the knowledgeable train conductor will illuminate the forest with bits of history about how it was formed and facts about the local wildlife, as well as stories about the railroad and Roaring Camp. Learn about how steam locomotives similar to the one you’ll be riding are among the oldest and best preserved narrow-gauge steam engines in America, and were once used to schlep redwood logs down from the mountains. You’ll have plenty of time to admire your surroundings on the 1-hour round trip ride. At the summit, study the architecture and visit the old-fashioned general store. Capture the moment in the vintage photo booth and peek inside the charmingly woodsy sheriff’s office. Stretch your legs and take in the majestic surroundings on a nature stroll through nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Please note: Picnic tables are available at Roaring Camp for all-day rental. Inquire at the ticket office when you visit. Gates open at 9:30am, and parking closes at 5pm, unless trains are still operating.

$105 Classes & Workshops

Beginner Surf Lesson in Santa Cruz

Make your way to Cowells Beach in Santa Cruz, where you'll meet your CPR-, first aid-, and lifeguard-certified instructor who teaches the basics of surfing during a 3-hour surf clinic. Come ready to learn how to surf and explore the wonders of the ocean. Your instructor provides a safe and non-threatening environment for the beginner surfer.Once you've squeezed into a provided wetsuit to keep you warm in the Pacific Ocean, you'll get an orientation to using a surfboard. You're walked through the steps to popping up on your board on shore. Learn how to read ocean conditions and wave breaks to ensure your safety, before you practice paddling and balancing. You'll start out in shallow areas, riding the white water until you are comfortable with venturing further out, where your instructor helps you catch some waves.

$135 Outdoor Activities

Introduction to Wilderness Survival Clinic in Santa Cruz

Get back to nature and learn age-old survival skills during this wilderness clinic set among the redwoods of Northern California. Meet your instructor — a survivalist and naturalist — at a Boy Scout camp in Boulder Creek, located about 15 miles (24 km) north of Santa Cruz. In just 5 hours you'll practice timeless traditions, such as shelter building and fire-by-friction, drawn from indigenous skills.Participate in hands-on activities appropriate for all ages, and build self-esteem and awareness knowing you can survive in the woods or other natural setting. Learn about edible plants and try out native-style traps while you discover what it's like to live in harmony with nature. You'll leave better prepared for your next wilderness adventure.

$132.69 Private & Custom Tours

Wandering Wednesday

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz, CaliforniaWanderDuration: 1 hour

$90 Walking & Biking Tours

Wild Mushroom Foraging: Santa Cruz Mountains

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productThese 3-4 hour classes meet in the Santa Cruz Mountains and cover the basics of wild mushroom foraging. After a brief talk on the ecology of edible mushrooms and mushroom hunting safely and ethically, we'll set you free to forage. You’ll meet back up with Maya to help identify your finds. It's important to note that although you will learn a ton about wild mushroom hunting in this class, we're at the whim of nature, so there are no guarantees you'll find pounds of mushrooms. People in our classes have found Chanterelles, Boletes, Black Trumpet, Morels, Hedgehogs, and lots of other great species of delicious mushrooms.Pass By: Santa Cruz Downtown, Santa Cruz, California

$90 Tours & Sightseeing

Mountain Biking Clinic

This course is geared towards people who want to learn the basics on their mountain bikes. The course consists of on- and off-the-bike instruction and riding. The morning hours of the clinic will consist of outdoor classroom lesson instruction and bike handling drills. The afternoon hours of the clinic will consist of a moderate level 6-8 mile ride through the famous trails of the Santa Cruz Mountains!Specific instruction will be given on: • General Bike Fit Guidelines • Mounting and Dismounting Technique • Body Position, Focus and Balance • Pedaling techniques • Gearing/Shifting • Braking Techniques • Climbing Technique • Cornering Techniques, on uphill, downhill and switchbacks • Bike Handling Drills • Trail Repair, fixing a flat, and chain maintenance. • Trail Etiquette and general discussion on bike “anatomy”, hydration, eating, recommended bike clothing for the micro-climates of Northern California as well as stretching and conditioning.