The Perfect Three Day Weekend Getaway in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Lighthouse at Sunset

Santa Cruz, California, stands as a captivating and vibrant destination, perfect for a delightful three-day weekend getaway. Nestled along the stunning Pacific coast and idyllic Monterey Bay, this coastal gem offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, eclectic charm, and diverse activities.

The area is renowned for its picturesque coastline, mild climate, sunny skies, and of course, miles of sandy beaches provide opportunities for relaxation, surfing, or even a refreshing swim in the Pacific waters.

Nature enthusiasts will find themselves enchanted by the redwood forests of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton, a short drive from downtown Santa Cruz. Here, the towering ancient trees create a serene atmosphere, ideal for hiking, birdwatching, and simply basking in nature’s grandeur.

Santa Cruz’s downtown area offers an eclectic mix of boutiques, art galleries, and delectable dining options. From farm-to-table restaurants to lively cafes, the culinary scene caters to diverse palates.

For a touch of culture, exploring the Santa Cruz Wharf and indulging in the local seafood while taking in panoramic views of the coastline is a must.

The vibrant nightlife, with live music venues and entertainment, ensures that the city remains lively after the sun sets.

Overall, Santa Cruz, with its blend of coastal beauty, outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and diverse entertainment, makes for an exceptional three-day escape, offering a well-rounded and unforgettable three day weekend getaway.  This article explores some of the most popular Santa Cruz attractions for those folks looking for a little time away from home.

Live by the Beach

Day 1: Delving into Downtown Santa Cruz

Breakfast at Zachary’s

Fuel your day with a hearty breakfast at Zachary’s, a popular local favorite. Their signature scramble, ‘Mike’s Mess’, is a must-try!

Experience Pacific Avenue

After breakfast, kick start your digestion with a leisurely stroll down Pacific Avenue, the heart of Santa Cruz. This bustling hub is a shopper’s paradise, offering a delightful mix of vintage stores, artsy boutiques, and hip cafes.

Explore Local Bookstores

Book lovers should not miss out on visiting Bookshop Santa Cruz, an independent bookstore known for its excellent staff picks and helpful booksellers.

Lunch at Harbor Cafe

For a scrumptious lunch experience, head to Harbor Cafe. Known for its hangover-busting breakfast platters and cocktails, this spot is unbeatable.

Play Disc Golf at Delaveaga Park

After lunch, head on up to the Delaveaga Park Disc Golf Course.  This is a renowned and highly rated disc golf course, and playing a game there is a great way to enjoy the sublime Santa Cruz weather and burn off some of those calories from lunch

Dinner at Oswalds or Surfrider Cafe

Wrap up your first day with a delightful dinner at Oswalds or Surfrider Cafe. Both these establishments offer a variety of cuisines and a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.

Life’s a Beach

Day 2: Embrace the Great Outdoors

Hiking at Nisene Marks State Park

Begin your day with a rejuvenating hike through the scenic trails of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos. With over 30 miles of trails, this park is a hiker’s paradise.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding in the Santa Cruz Harbor

Everyone knows that Santa Cruz is a popular spot for surfing, but unless you’re already an experienced surfer, you’re probably not going to get very good at it over a weekend.  Fortunately there’s a much easier way to have fun out on the water:  go stand up paddle-boarding (SUP) in the Santa Cruz Harbor!  It’s less challenging for novices than surfing, but till great exercise and lots of fun for people of all ability levels.

Visit Año Nuevo State Park

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a visit to Año Nuevo State Park is a must. Home to a year-round population of elephant seals, this park offers an immersive wildlife experience.

Sunset at Natural Bridges State Beach Park

Round off your day with a mesmerizing sunset at Natural Bridges State Beach Park. This beautiful beach is the perfect spot for a relaxing evening.

Day 3: Explore Iconic Attractions

Start your final day in Santa Cruz with a visit to the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Enjoy thrilling rides, fun games, and delicious food at this iconic amusement park. Next, take a stroll down the Santa Cruz Wharf. This vibrant area is known for its fresh seafood, charming shops, and an array of water activities.

The Mystery Spot

Alternatively, head to The Mystery Spot. This gravity-defying attraction nestled in the redwood forests is bound to leave you amazed.  This is especially fun if you have any kids in tow.  It’s beautiful place with fresh air an opportunity to run around.

Wine Tasting

End your trip on a high note with a wine tasting session. With over 62 wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains, you’re in for a treat!

Visit Micro-Breweries

If wine tasting isn’t your thing, Santa Cruz is also known as an epicenter for microbrews, with numerous award-winning breweries sprinkled throughout Santa Cruz county.

Got kids?

If you do have kids and are looking for more great things to do on a three day weekend getaway in Santa Cruz, check out this great guide to 46 amazing things to do in Santa Cruz with kids.

Enjoy your weekend getaway in Santa Cruz and make the most of its stunning beaches, thrilling outdoor activities, and vibrant local culture. Whether you’re a nature lover, a thrill-seeker, or a foodie, Santa Cruz has something for everyone.

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