photo of Monterey Bay cliffs in Santa Cruz County, California

Santa Cruz County
Beaches & Park Guide

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Santa Cruz




San Lorenzo Valley


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Attractions & Museums




Beaches & Parks

General Information





Manresa Upland State Beach
205 Manresa Rd., La Selva Beach, (831) 761-1795. Enjoy the surf, sand and sun. Fire rings on the beach. Picnic tables available. Day-use fee. Tent camping only; no RVs permitted. Open sunrise to sunset.
Rio Del Mar Beach
Rio Del Mar Blvd., Aptos, (831) 429-2850. A wide strip of clean sand and a jetty. Nearby shopping and restaurants. Dogs allowed on leashes. Lifeguards in the summer. Open sunrise to sunset.
Seacliff State Beach
State Park Dr., Aptos, (831) 685-6500. View the "Palo Alto" at this sunny beach. Visitor center tells story of cement-ship-turned-fish-ing-pier. RV hookups. Reservations required. Day-use fee. Open sunrise to sunset.


The Esplanade - (831) 475-7300
Located in Capitola Village along the famous Esplanade which is lined with shops and restaurants. Walk along the beach to the Capitola Wharf. Open sunrise to sunset.
New Brighton State Beach
1500 State Park Dr., Capitola, (831) 464-6330. Towering cypress and pine provide a sense of isolation and privacy between campsites. Surf fishing, clamming. Camping, no RV hookups. Reservations required. Day-use fee. Open sunrise to sunset.


Davenport Landing - (831) 462-8333
The original site of Davenport, once a thriving whaling town. Strictly a day-use beach, it is generally less crowded than many of the north-coast beaches and is a favorite for windsurfers. Open sunrise to sunset.
Waddell State Beach
Hwy. 1, Davenport, (831) 425-1218. Windy beaches preclude sunbathing much of the year, but attract hang gliders, windsurfers and tidepool explorers. Open sunrise to sunset.

Santa Cruz

East Cliff Coastal Access Points
12th Ave. to 41st Ave., Live Oak, (831) 462-8333. The County has 13 coastal access points throughout the East Cliff area for ease in reaching beaches. Open daily, sunrise to sunset.
Main Beach/Cowell Beach
Beach St., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-5747 or (831) 429-3777. Santa Cruz invites sun worshippers to play volleyball or stroll along miles of sandy beach. Boardwalk Amusement Park. Beach-going wheelchair available in summer at Cowell Beach on first-come basis. Open sunrise to sunset.
Moran Lake Park
East Cliff Dr. and Lake Ave., Live Oak, (831) 462-8333. Park with coastal access and family picnic area. Open sunrise to sunset.
Natural Bridges State Beach
2531 West Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, (831) 423-4609. This 65-acre park hosts an overwintering population of Monarch butterflies. The beach has tidepools and a natural arch which gives the park its name. Open 8 am to sunset.
Pleasure Point Beach
East Cliff Dr. and Pleasure Point Dr., Santa Cruz, (831) 462-8533. This coastal access point is a popular Santa Cruz surf spot. Open sunrise to sunset.
Red, White and Blue Beach
5021 Coast Rd., (Hwy 1) Santa Cruz, (831) 423-6352. Clothing-optional beach featuring day-use facilities and overnight camping. Open 10 am - 4 pm winter, 10 am-6 pm summer.
Santa Cruz Harbor Beach
5th Ave. at East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, (831) 475-6161. Adjacent to Santa Cruz Harbor. Restaurants. Full service marina. Charter boats. Catamaran beach storage May-October. Beach volleyball. Harbor office open 8:30 am-5 pm daily.
Seabright/Castle Beach
East Cliff Dr. at Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-2850. A long sandy beach between the Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Harbor. Fire rings available. Dogs permitted on leashes. No alcohol. Open sunrise to sunset.
Twin Lakes State Beach
East Cliff Dr. at 7th Ave., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-2850. One of the area's warmest beaches, due to its location at the opening of Schwann Lagoon. Fire-rings, outdoor showers and restrooms are available. Open sunrise to sunset.


Sunset State Beach
201 Sunset Beach Rd., Watsonville, (831) 763-7063. A secluded stretch of coastland surrounded by farms. Camping reservations required in the summer. Day-use fee. No RV hookups. Open sunrise to sunset.



Aptos Village County Park
100 Aptos Creek Rd., Aptos, (831) 462-8333. This creekside park is perfect for weddings, receptions, business picnics, private parties, meetings, or special events. Building has full kitchen and fireplace, park has a playground. Open 9 am to sunset, or by reservation.
Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Aptos Creek Rd., Aptos, (831) 763-7063. Hiking, jogging and biking are some of the activities to be enjoyed at this 10,000 acre redwood forest park. Picnic tables and barbecue pits available. Open sunrise to sunset.

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond Park/Dam
9525 Mill St., Ben Lomond, (831) 462-8333. A historical creekside park which offers seasonal swimming, picnic/barbecue areas, playground, basketball court, horseshoe pit, and nature area. Open sunrise to sunset.
Highlands County Park
8500 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond, (831) 462-8333. Something for everyone in a creekside setting: popular wedding facility, group picnic sites, sports fields, tennis, volleyball, supervised seasonal swimming pool, playground, and nature trails. Open 7am-sunset.
Quail Hollow Ranch County Park
800 Quail Hollow Rd., Ben Lomond, (831) 462-8324. Park features historic ranch house, pond, picnic area and trails. Docent-led tours are available to better explore the diverse and rare local ecosystem. Open 10 am-4 pm Saturday-Sunday.

Boulder Creek

Big Basin Redwood State Park
21600 Big Basin Wy., Boulder Creek, (831) 338-8860. Features 2,000 year-old redwoods and over 50 miles of trails. Guided walks available. Leashed dogs allowed. Reservations required for camping. Day-use fee. Open sunrise to sunset.


Greyhound Rock County Park
Hwy. 1, North of Davenport, (831) 462-8333. Park offers coastal access, fishing, tidal pools, nature trails and family picnic area. Open sunrise to sunset.
Rancho Del Oso State Park
Hwy. 1, Davenport, (831) 427-2288. Hiking, bicycling and horseback riding along lower Waddell Creek. Call the Nature and History Center for information on programs and tours. Open sunrise to sunset.


Felton Covered Bridge Park
Graham Hill Rd. and Mt. Hermon Rd., Felton, (831) 462-8533. The park's covered bridge is a California State Historical Landmark. This park offers volleyball, picnic area with barbecue and playground. Open sunrise to sunset.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
101 N. Big Trees Park Rd., Felton, (831) 335-4598. This park is famous for its giant coastal redwoods. Self-guided trails, picnic areas, nature center and bookstore on site. Campground is off Graham Hill Road. Open sunrise to sunset.
Loch Lomond Recreation Area
100 Loch Lomond Wy., Felton, (831) 335-7424. Picnicking, hiking, a nature center and interpretive walks with rangers. Row boat and electric motorboat rentals. Bait, tackle, fishing licenses, food and sundry items available. Open March-September from 6 am to sunset.

Los Gatos/Santa Cruz Mountains

Castle Rock State Park
15000 Skyline Blvd., Los Gatos, (831) 867-2952. Over 3,600 acres of semi-wilderness with spectacular views, rolling meadows, waterfalls and shady forests. Hiking and horse trails, picnic areas and primitive backpack campsites. Open sunrise to sunset.

Santa Cruz

Fall Creek State Park
101 Big Trees Park Rd., Santa Cruz, (831) 335-4598. Heavily forested 2,400-acre park has a lime kiln, barrel mill, and 20 miles of hiking trails along old wagon and logging roads. No bicycles or dogs. Open sunrise to sunset.
Harvey West Park
300 Evergreen St., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-3663. With swimming pools, picnic tables and play equipment, this is a park for the whole family. Hiking trails, athletic fields, volleyball courts and horseshoe pits. Open sunrise to sunset.
Wilder Ranch State Park
1401 Coast Rd., Santa Cruz, (831) 426-0505. Enjoy the hiking, bicycling and horseback riding trails at this 5,000 acre coastal park. Join the weekend historic ranch activities. Historic complex open 10am-4pm Thursday-Sunday; park open daily sunrise to sunset.

Scotts Valley

Camp Evers Fishing Park
1/2 mi. from Mt. Hermon Rd. on Glen Canyon Rd., Scotts Valley, (831) 438-3251. Ideal fishing hole for young people. Stocked with native steelhead. Free seasonal fishing May-September for 15 years and under. Picnic areas and BBQs. Open from dawn to 1/2 hour past dusk.
Siltanen Park
127 Vine Hill School Rd., Scotts Valley, (831) 438-3251. Features BBQ pits, softball fields, a soccer field, horseshoe pits, and a pool. Open 1 pm-4 pm during the summer months.


Pinto Lake County Park
757 Green Valley Rd., Watsonville, (831) 462-8533. This l90-acre park lends itself to a wide range of events such as concerts and spectator sports, business/family picnics and reunions. Open 8:30 am to sunset.



Ano Nuevo State Reserve
Hwy. 1/New Years Creek Rd., Pescadero, (415) 879-0227 or (415) 879-2025. Must walk 2.5 hours, 3 miles round trip over sandy unlevel terrain. Naturalist-led tours venture into elephant seal breeding rookery December 15-March 31. Call Destinet, 800-444-7275 to reserve. Open 8 am-sunset.

Santa Cruz

Antonelli Pond
Delaware Rd., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-6116. Next to Natural Bridges State Park, this site is open from dawn to dusk. Trails lead through the area. Dogs on leashes only. Open sunrise to sunset.
Lighthouse Point and Field
700 West Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-3035. Thirty-two-acre open space fronting the Pacific Ocean. Informal paths, picnic area, beach access, surfing access. Surfing museum open daily 12-4 pm, closed Tuesdays. Open sunrise to sunset.
Schwann Lagoon
East Cliff Dr. by Twin lakes Beach, Santa Cruz, (831) 479-2850. Canoe or kayak into the lagoon or reach it by following the railroad tracks from 7th Avenue. Lagoon is a peaceful refuge for many wild birds. Open sunrise to sunset.


Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
1700 Elkhorn Rd., Watsonville, (831) 728-2822. Five miles of hiking trails through oak woodlands, grasslands, fresh and saltwater marshes, seasonal viewing of sharks, shore-birds, nesting herons, egrets and many other species. Open 9am-5pm Wednesday-Sunday. Tours: 10 am and 1 pm Saturday-Sunday.
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks)
    600 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-2850
  • Santa Cruz County Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services
    9000 Soquel Ave., Suite 101, Santa Cruz, (831) 462-8300
  • Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department
    323 Church St., Santa Cruz, (831) 429-3777
  • Watsonville Parks and Recreation Department
    30 Maple St., Watsonville, (831) 728-6081
For additional visitor information contact:
Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council
1211 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 425-1234 - Toll Free: (800) 833-3494 - Fax: (831) 425-1260

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