There’s a lot to love about the city of Santa Cruz, and it’s no surprise that this place really comes to life in the summer, attracting huge numbers of visitors from both the United States and abroad.
Well-known for being home to one of the oldest oceanfront amusement parks in the world, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz beaches offer several unique attractions that can't be found anywhere else in the state. So if you’re planning a California beach vacation, read on to learn all about Santa Cruz’s best beaches.
1. Natural Bridges State Beach
As soon as you step foot on Natural Bridges State Beach, you'll see why Santa Cruz is seen as one of California's best beach towns. An untouched spot on the Santa Cruz coastline, Natural Bridges State Beach is home to some stunning rock formations, including natural arches that have formed from erosion over time and are very pretty spots to snap some selfies.
The local park is filled with scenic hiking trails and home to a lot of wildlife, including many different species of seabirds and a lot of pretty butterflies too. In short, if you’re a nature lover, you definitely won’t want to miss out on this Santa Cruz beach. Natural Bridges State Beach Map
2. Seabright State Beach
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A very big beach, Seabright State Beach stands out for the pretty local lighthouse and sailboats that are often seen here. Open all day long, this beach is a popular place for locals and travelers to gather in the evenings, with various fire pits open for public use. Lighting up a beach bonfire is a lot of fun, but the pits are provided on a first-come, first-served basis and can be very popular, so it can often pay off to arrive early and stake your claim before other people begin to arrive. This beach is also conveniently located near the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, which is a nice place to spend a few hours in between sunbathing sessions.
3. Capitola Beach
If you're in Santa Cruz and heading to the beach, you simply can't miss out on Capitola Beach. It's one of the most popular coastal locations in the area, ideally located near the stores and eateries of Capitola town. Everyone from families with young kids to couples looking for a romantic spot to hold hands and stroll around will find something to love about this beach. Colorful hotels and wide sandy spaces are seen in every direction, but there's not too much shade here so you might want to bring your own umbrella or beach tent.
4. Lighthouse Field State Beach
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Lighthouse Field State Beach is named for the impressive lighthouse found up at the far end of the beach, which is dominated by large rocks and grassy spaces. Further down the coat, soft sands and crashing waves provide a perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon stroll. This is also one of the only dog-friendly beaches in Santa Cruz, so if you're looking to spend some quality time with your furry, four-legged friend, Lighthouse Field State Beach is the place to be. Locals even nickname this place 'Dog Beach' due to the fact that it's almost impossible to visit without seeing some happy pups splashing around among the waves. This beach also tends to be less crowded than some of the others, so it's a nice place to come if you're in need of peace and quiet.
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5. Twin Lakes State Beach
Not far from the aforementioned Seabright Beach, Twin Lakes State Beach is very popular, especially on warm, sunny days. This beach is lined with a lot of top quality bars and restaurants, meaning you'll never have to go hungry or thirsty and can spend a full day here without ever needing to leave. Bonfires are popular on this beach and many people can be spotted playing games or splashing around at the water's edge as well. There's also a rental store offering kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, so if you want to head out on the waves and explore the coastline, Twin Lakes State Beach is a fine place to start.
More ideas: Wineries near Santa Cruz
6. More Info About Beaches in Santa Cruz
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When the sun starts to shine and the temperatures begin to rise, there's nothing quite like heading down to the beach and basking in the sunlight, swimming in the water, and having fun with family and friends.
Beaches are the ultimate getaway spots, free from the noise and pollution of major cities, offering nothing but fun, sun, sand, and enjoyment for people of all ages and backgrounds. No matter who you are or what's going on in your life, you can always have a great time at the beach, and the United States of America has three super coastlines to explore.
The Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico have their advantages, but there’s nowhere quite like the West Coast, especially California. The Golden State gets some super weather all through the year and is home to some of the most awe-inspiring beaches in the world, offering just the right conditions for a myriad of seafront activities like sunbathing, surfing, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and water sports. One of the best beach cities in California is Santa Cruz. It's a popular tourist destination, but still quieter and calmer than somewhere like San Francisco or Los Angeles, providing a nice balance of tranquility and convenience, with a lot of lovely beaches to explore and super amenities nearby.
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