Are you planning your next vacation to Santa Cruz (or Capitola) and having a hard time finding some quality (and unique) things to do?  We all love going to the beach, but it’s always great to explore other options too! We’ve created a list of our favorite activities and excursions throughout the Santa Cruz area that we know you will love! Some of these activities are a short drive just outside of Santa Cruz, but with the ocean and redwoods as your scenery it’s not so bad. 🙂

Land Activities and Excursions

For those of us who prefer to be on land (or slightly above), here are some of our favorite activities where you can stay dry!

 

 

Train Ride Through the Redwoods with Roaring Camp Railroad

All of us ladies at Beach House Rentals hopped aboard one of the steam trains at Roaring Camp Railroads earlier this year and had a blast! We stopped by Gayle’s Bakery on the way out of Capitola and took the short and scenic drive up Highway 17. Make sure to get there about 30 minutes before your train departs so you can admire and take fun photos in the small town at Roaring Camp, re-created after a 19th century logging town. Super kid friendly!

Zip Lining through the Redwoods in Mount Hermon

This one is for the brave! Probably not the best activity if you’re afraid of heights. Take a two-hour guided tour up high in the redwoods, (up to 150 feet high in the trees!) where tour guides explain ecological knowledge and history of the redwood forest. Zip quickly back and forth through the beautiful redwoods back to the ground! Don’t worry – you are strapped in tight.

 

 

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Known as one of the last classic seaside amusement parks in the world, the Boardwalk is considered one of the absolute best! There’s always something fun to do at the Boardwalk, whether you like to play arcade games, mini golf or beach volley ball, do some seaside shopping, or ride a daring roller coaster! There’s something for everyone here! A great place to bring the kids!

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking Trails throughout Santa Cruz and surrounding areas

Santa Cruz has some of the best hiking trails around! There are so many to choose from too! From up high in the mountains to down low in the Redwoods, each offers an amazing and unique view of the area. Some even lead you to beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes (and with all this rain we’ve been having, there are actually waterfalls this year)!

Disc Golf in Santa Cruz

Another great land activity is disc golfing! Wondering what the heck that is? Well, think of golf but with a frisbee. Delaveaga has a great disc golf course and is actually world-renown, being one of the most famous and challenging courses in the world! Super fun, great views (especially from the “Top of the World” hole on #27), be sure to check out this great activity.

Golf at Pasatiempo, Seascape, or DeLaveaga

Book a tee time at one of the most beautiful and local golf courses in Santa Cruz County! Each boasts a gorgeous scenery, nestled in Redwood trees and offers the opportunity to get away with some buddies for a nice round of golf!

Water Activities and Excursions

For those of you who enjoy being out on the water (and in the water), we’ve come up with a list of great water-based activities to enjoy in the Monterey Bay!

 

With a handful of her friends, Sara sailed away (for about an hour) on the O’Neill Yacht Charter catamaran and everyone had a fantastic time! Take a sunset cruise through the yacht harbor and up the coast. You can purchase beverages onboard, too! Public sails run from May through October. Kid friendly!

Sailing on the Chardonnay

Another option to go on a boat is to sail away on the Chardonnay Sailboat through the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. They have several fun different types of public sails (i.e. Champagne Brunch Charter, Afternoon Pizza Charter, and Tuesday and Thursday Specials, just to name a few) so you can pick the one that works best for your group!

Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor

Get up close and personal with the wildlife in the water! Paddle around the Yacht Harbor and kayak in one of our nation’s largest wildlife sanctuary. While paddling around you’ll most likely encounter sea otters, sea lions, dolphins, and maybe whales! An incredible way to enjoy the Monterey Bay!

 


If you’ve ever seen the term “SUP” associated with a beach town, then you now know that stands for “Stand Up Paddleboarding”. A popular and super fun activity, SUPing is another great way to tour the Monterey Bay. Great for ocean lovers who want to feel like they are walking on water.

Surfing Lessons in Capitola

Another fantastic activity for those water lovers, if you’re looking to find a great activity in Capitola Village, take a surfing lesson! The lessons offered through Capitola Beach Company are booked around low tides, wind, swell, and surf conditions. They’re experts in making sure your lesson is safe and enjoyable.