Things to do in Santa Cruz and Capitola CA

For a slice of American pie, you cannot beat the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It is a classic seaside amusement park, one of only about 2 dozen such areas yet in operation and the large on the West Coast. Open since 1907; the whole amusement park is a California Historical Landmark. Do not get the wrong though, idea. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is not some musty, dying attraction. It is as famous as ever, and it was named Best Seaside Amusement Park by Amusement Today magazine in 2018. And although it is more than a lot of years old, the park yet gets high ratings from online reviewers who love its combination of new rides and old-fashioned charm. The most popular rides of boardwalks are the Giant Dipper, the Double Shot and Carousel, a tower ride that provides panoramic views before dropping you 125 feet. The Haunted Castle, an amped-up version of the old-fashioned home of fears lurks in the basement below the Boardwalk itself.

You will also find arcades and games, fast food stands, miniature golf, restaurants, laser tag, and shopping. If you wish the finest fright try, Scare Walk beneath the boardwalk, a weird maze that will fright the cotton candy out of you. Free Movies on the Beach occur on summer Wednesday nights. Free concerts are held on summer Friday nights. If the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk appearances familiar, it has graced the silver screen in the classic movie The Lost Boys, Transformers Bumblebee, and most recently Jordan Peele’s horror film United State

What You Need to Know

  • One of the best things about the Boardwalk is that does not charge an admission fee.
  • They provide many ticket options, ranging from single ride tickets to unlimited all day or season passes.
  • Allow minimum some hours, and even up to all day long. The great time to visit If you want to avoid crowds is going in fall or spring, but for the maximum fun, summer is the only alternative. Hours vary seasonally. For present hours visit their website.

Ride the Rides

The highlight of a trip to this place is taking a spin on rides. Though coasters get the most publicity, the park has something age proper for everybody in the family. There’re several rides made just for preschoolers and toddlers that deliver little thrills and the chance to ride independently from parents. The Ferris wheel, historic carousel, and sky glider are definite must-dos and are fun for everybody in the family. If you’ve more adventurous children, teens or tweens who want some thrills, there’re tons of large rides to enjoy. The Giant Dipper (a historic coaster built-in 1924) is worth a ride along with Undertow, a roller coaster that has spinning cars.

Play the Games

The boardwalk features plenty of games and non-ride activities that children will enjoy. There’re the typical carnival games, basketball hoops, coin tosses, knock down the milk bottles and various more. There are also 2 arcades, Casino Arcade and Neptune’s Kingdom. Here, you can play classic 1980s games such as Pac Man or Skee-Ball or also register for a round of mini-golf or laser tag.

Indulge in Carnival Food

Like any best theme park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has few awe-inspiring foods. Sinfully delicious concoctions rule the roost here, candied apples, deep-fried Twinkies, enormous turkey legs, giant corndogs, funnel cakes, and any taste or ice cream you can imagine. Your children are going to be tempted, so plan for how several treats their small tummies and your wallet can handle before your visit.

Hit the Beach

The Boardwalk is located on a wonderful beach, so you should take time for the sand and waves during a visit. The beach is situated right where the San Lorenzo River hits the Monterey Bay, and the river frequently pools up perfectly to create small places for younger and toddlers’ children to wade in very calm water.


Changing into bathing suits can be a challenge with the lack of facilities available, so it is frequently easy to wear suits under your clothes or just change babies and toddlers on the beach.

A Day at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The Picnic Basket is run by the same owners as Penny Ice Creamery, which prepares ice cream fully from scratch using local organic ingredients. The cafe has some ice cream tastes, so save room for a scoop or two in one of their homemade waffle cones.

When to Go:

Weekdays are perfect because they are less crowded. If you go on a weekend, try to go first thing in the morning before the crowds get too large. We went on a lovely Saturday morning and it was simple, easy to park, easy to walk around, easy to discover a place to eat and sit. But by the time we left around 1:00, the park was getting beautifully packed. Even so, the lines for most rides were not long (some had no line at all), and the traffic getting out of the boardwalk place added only about 15 mints to our drive.

Shadow Brook

Situated in Capitola, Shadow brook is one of those historic California restaurants such as the Nepenthe, Ahwahnee, and the Cliff home, a place that you feel compelled to go to if you are visiting the place for the first time. The restaurant opened in 1947, taking over what was then a log cabin built almost 100 years ago. Its history is documented in the rows of pictures in passageways connecting the many dining rooms. One big photograph from 1952 showed bright pink wooden dining tables with likewise colored dahlias adding color to the huge stone fireplace, softening the austerity of the heavy-beamed ceiling.

It is a restaurant frozen in time and one that cannot be built today. Unless the cable car was installed, it was even hard to bring in supplies, few had to be boated down Soquel Creek. The restaurant itself is such as the Winchester Mystery home, with crannies and nooks \ everywhere. There is the original room with the fireplace, the glassed-in porch overlooking the treetops, a romantic table in an alcove off a staircase and intimate tables for 2 far below, overlooking the creek. This is owned by Ted Burke & Robert Munsey since 1978; both worked at the restaurant before buying it and the Nest of Crows, which is on the beach at the harbor in Santa Cruz.

Shadow brook is a restaurant that defines the area, no entrance is as memorable or dramatic. Still, the exotic, romantic mood is broken when diner’s check-in for booking, are provided a pager and told, you will be called when your table is ready. Other indications are the multifold menu, the rapid pacing of the food and the waiter who will drop the bill along with dessert without clearing used bread and butter plates or the swizzle sticks from before-dinner drinks. Still, other signs point to a restaurant trying to be current and give diners the best experience. One page of the menu is devoted to the purveyors of the restaurant. Cocktails are creative, with a Manhattan made with blood oranges, and a Negroni house-aged in barrels, too bad the bartenders do not utilize great ice so the drinks are not watered down by the time they arrive at the table.

Mystery Spot

The popular Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, a special area full of imagination and intrigue. When you visit Santa Cruz, you’ll no doubt have somebody ask if you’re going to the Mystery Spot, and you’ll see signs and bumper stickers all over town. You will just go experience it for yourself if you’re interested. Here’s all the info.

When you arrive and pick up your tickets in the store, you’ll see the Mystery Spot on everything in the store, from shot glasses to socks. After picking up or paying for your ticket, you’ll sit and wait till the start of your tour to enter the mystery place. From here, the tour will begin, and you will learn about this magic show. The Mystery Spot was found in 1939 by a group of surveyors and opened to the public in 1940. The Mystery Spot has perplexed and amazed a lot of visitors from all over the world, and several return time and time again to experience these puzzling variations of height, gravity, and perspective. Few speculate that cones of metal were secretly brought here and buried in our earth as guidance systems for their spacecraft. Some think that it’s the spacecraft itself buried deep within the ground. Other theories involve carbon dioxide permeating from the earth, a hole in the ozone layer, a magma vortex, the high dielectric bio cosmic radiation known anywhere in the world, and radiesthesia. Whatever the cause is, it remains a mystery.

The Tour in Mystery Spot

The tour proceeds up the steep incline unless you make it to the slanted home and start to see how weird this place is. The guide then takes you through a series of strange instances that mess with your head and aid to show off the phenomenon here. The highlight of the trip is walking into the main home where the 17-degree angle begins to play with the brain. You can walk up the stairs, climb tables, and hang from the wall, all of these things designed to mess with your mind and to offer some fun Instagram images. After the guide shows you the area, you can mess with it yourself and try the different activities she explained. It’s many funs to mess around on the different magic spots. After that, you exit the home and have some further examples of natural magic, including an explanation of how few of the trees are even growing at an angle near the home.

Comments (12)

  • Kat

    July 14, 2021 at 10:21 am

    thanks for the tour! i enjoyed reading your blog. Mystery Spot caught my attention – Such beautiful forested location. I’m sure it’s going to be fun and interesting experience.

  • Danica Marasigan

    July 14, 2021 at 10:26 am

    It is my first time to read about a seaside amusement park. It’s beach + rides rolled into one! Seeing your photos makes me think that things are slowly getting back to normal despite this pandemic. I also got curious to visit the Mystery Spot 😊 it’s kinda weird but I love different tourist places with a twist.

  • Blair Villanueva

    July 14, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for bringing us to your virtual Santa Cruz tour. Ang ganda ng lugar at pang-family talaga. Are pets allowed to visit these areas? Nakakatuwa naman maglaro sa beach!

  • Ivan M. Jose

    July 14, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    What a nice adventure. I’ve always wanted to go to a beach with an amusement park nearby. I always see that in American films and I think it’s neat to enjoy both the rides and waves.

  • May Palacpac

    July 15, 2021 at 1:15 am

    It looks like a fun place to take the kids (and my kid-at-heart hubby) to. They love arcades and rides, but I love the beach and the food looks sumptuous, so that part, I’m sure to love. So jealous! Wish we can already travel!

  • Jowell Juanillo

    July 15, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    This is my type of itinerary, rides, food and the beach. And definitely curious with that mysterious spot.

  • Nicole P.

    July 15, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Looks like you had a pretty exciting adventure. The most exciting thing that has happened to me lately is just 10 minuites of swimming on the beach when we went on a strictly business trip with everything that’s happening… Nice to live vicariously through your photos, hope you’ll share some more when you go on another tour <3

  • Janella Herrera

    July 15, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Do you know what made me appreciate the life we had before COVID19? Theme parks! I always loved going to carnivals and seeing this blog post made me miss playing carnival games and all. It also made me hopeful that we will live normally again.

  • WanderWoMom

    July 15, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    OHMY ang laki ng starfish.. you know this has been one of the places i wanted to bring my son, kaso di kami natuloy nun last US trip namin kasi na cut short kami dahil my mom had to fly back to manila for an emergency. Seeing this again makes me yearn for it more. i hope we can visit this when we can finally fly to america, hopefully next year.

  • Ma. Theresa M. Martinez

    July 15, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Thank for touring me around. I love all the spots and I’m pretty sure when I’m given the chance to go there, I would explore everything you mentioned. More of this pls.

  • Hyejin

    July 15, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    This is my kind of adventure for the family. I wish we can do this too but my husband is not into traveling 🙁
    I’ve seen how you guys enjoyed your adventure at Santa Cruz and CA. I’ve only seen these kinds of places in movies and here you are showing it to us how it really looks like.

  • Erica Marshall

    July 25, 2021 at 6:47 am

    We’ll hit Santa Cruz for my cousin’s wedding and we’ll have three days for ourselves before the wedding. This would be our first flight since this madness began and I have no idea what to expect. How are things now with this awful pandemic? Are things busy or there’s barely any people around? There’s gonna be just the two of us so we can visit anything though I have to admit I am a huge fan of carnival food, always were.

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