Beaches and Parks in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County is home to 29 miles of beautiful beaches along the Monterey Bay, as well as more than 50 County and California State Parks. Whether you're looking for an active day at the beach or in a park or just a relaxing day in the outdoors, you'll find it in Santa Cruz.


View a map of Santa Cruz County Beaches

With 29 miles of Santa Cruz County beaches to choose from, you may have a hard time picking one or two to visit. Even harder might be figuring out what the real name of the beach is, as many Santa Cruz beaches go mostly by their nicknames. Don't know which beach to choose? Ask a local to point you to their favorite or take a look at the Santa Cruz County Beaches Google map. And, feel free to add more to the map if you find one you really like! 

According to, following are the best Santa Cruz beaches by type:

  • Amusements: Main Beach. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is located at Main Beach. It's one of California's most classic oceanfront amusement parks.
  • Beach Volleyball: Capitola and Main Beach. You'll find plenty of nets on both beaches.
  • Bonfires: Seacliff and Sunset. These are popular places for beach bonfires, so arrive early to stake out the best spots.
  • For Kids: Main Beach. With the boardwalk nearby and lifeguards on duty during the busiest times, this beach has lots to do.
  • People-Watching: Main Beach. With all the goings-on a the adjacent amusement park, this place is people-watcher's heaven.
  • Romantic: Seascape. The long, sandy beach just below this seaside resort is accessible to everyone, but it's seldom crowded. For a romantic, seaside, sunset stroll without getting sand in your shoes, try the walk along West Cliff Drive.
  • Surfing: Steamer Lane. The place where pioneering big-wave surfers got their start still boasts the area's best surfing. Don't miss the nearby Surfing Museum.
  • Beaches to Bare it All: Judging from the cars parked along Highway One Bonny Doon is the local favorite.

County Parks

The Santa Cruz area is home to dozens of County Parks:

State Parks

Santa Cruz County is lucky to be home to almost a dozen of the most beautiful parks in the California State Park system.

Is it sunny in Santa Cruz today?

Before you head to the beach or park, you can answer the important question of "How's the weather in Santa Cruz?" by checking out one of many webcams in Santa Cruz County. Remember, a foggy morning can end as a beautiful, sunny day at the beach or in the mountains as the fog lifts and the sun comes out to shine on Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Web Cams

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Webcam
Santa Cruz Harbor Beach Webcam
Santa Cruz Harbor EntranceWebcam
Santa Cruz Walton Light House Point Webcam
Santa Cruz Harbor Westside Webcam
Santa Cruz Harbor Main Channel Webcam
Rio Del Mar Beach Webcam
Cabrillo College Aptos Webcam

Look for the Chamber decal

For more than 120 years, Santa Cruz Chamber members have been committed to improving our community for everyone who visits, works, or lives in Santa Cruz County.

For a list of local Santa Cruz Chamber member attractions, visit the Attractions section of the Chamber business directory.

Events this Week and Beyond

For more ideas on what to do while you're in Santa Cruz, view the complete Calendar of Annual Events.

Looking for something to do this month? Check out the Santa Cruz monthly calendar of events»