Natural Bridges State Beach
This 65-acre state park in Santa Cruz, CA is a recreational sanctuary. The park features a beautiful beach along the ocean and an amazing natural bridge that goes across one part of the beach. And it’s also home to the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve where 150,000 butterflies can be seen every October through February.
Wilder Ranch State Park
A California state park, Wilder Ranch is a former dairy ranch that's a great destination for visitors looking for outdoor adventure. Activities include hiking, biking, and horseback riding along the scenic trails with stunning ocean views. In addition, many of the old ranch buildings are still standing and have been converted into a museum.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
A grove of old-growth redwood trees is just one of the highlights of Henry Cowells Redwoods State Park. Outdoor enthusiasts will be very enthusiastic about the recreational options, including hiking, fishing, and mountain biking. Bird watching is an equally popular activity. What’s more, there’s a well-stocked nature store.
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is rich in hiking trails. There are more than 40 miles of them. Along with hikers, the trails can be used by joggers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. You’ll also encounter picnic tables and barbecue pits. Dogs are welcome, too.
New Brighton State Beach
A 95-acre park, New Brighton State Beach is just east of Santa Cruz, CA in the quaint town of Capitola. It’s also right next to Seacliff State Beach, which is features a fishing pier. This family-friendly beach is very calm, making it perfect for everything from stand-up paddling to kayaking. And if don't have your own equipment, you can rent it.
Mission Santa Cruz
A Spanish mission founded in 1791 by the Franciscan order, Mission Santa Cruz is visited by thousands of tourists each year. Make sure to stop by and see the Holy Cross Church, which was built in 1889. Another highlight is the only surviving mission building that is now a museum for the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.