santa cruz
Santa Cruz - South
Capitola - Capitola is an old-fashioned seaside resort, with a super flat sand beach, gentle and protected, perfect if you have toddlers, who can build sand castles until the sun sets. Bigger kids will enjoy boogie boarding and surfing. In summer, Wednesday evenings, there are free concerts on the Esplanade. It's the sort of town where families come year after year, to spend as long as possible, an endless summer.
Camp at the beach - South of Santa Cruz, there are several state beaches with campgrounds - kids can spend all day at the beach, and stay up late under stars. In Capitola, camp at the New Brighton State Beach - camp sites, showers, restrooms, family programs, and grocery stores close by. Sunset State Beach (near Watsonville) has camping, showers, restrooms, family programs, and the nearby Pajaro Dunes. Seacliff State Beach is RV camping only, with showers, picnic areas, a visitor center, and grocery stores in nearby Aptos. Summer, advance reservations are a must.
Aptos Farmers Market - Aptos farmers market is one of our favorites, worth visiting on Saturday morning. It's a large market, with the bounty of the surrounding area, just-picked fruits and vegetables of all kinds, breads, cheeses, pies, jams, honey. There's also food for snacks, such as fresh corn on a stick and shrimp tostadas, and live music. Open year round, 8am to noon Saturday.
Pick your own fruit - Santa Cruz County is filled with farms and fruit orchards. During harvest season, it's fun to pick your own fruits - apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, strawberries, raspberries. Tip: Wear sturdy shoes, and clothes that can get dirty.
Gizdich Ranch (Watsonville) - Pick apples and berries, plus you can purchase apple juice, and all kinds of fruit pies. Picnic tables, play area, hay bales and tractor for kids to climb on. Recently we had a delightful time picking strawberries at the end of July.
Watsonville Strawberry Festival - A yearly festival downtown Watsonville, with fun fair rides (especially fun is the Berry Go Round), live music, food booths and Strawberry Lane. Kids can try strawberry and chocolate pizza, bunuelos (fried cinnamon sugar crisps) with fresh strawberries and cream, strawberry smoothies, cookies, croissants, sundaes, shortcake, chocolate covered strawberries, Mexican strawberry pastries.


Moss Landing - Elkhorn Slough -
Rent kayaks or take the Elkhorn Slough Safari boat tour to see fabulous wildlife in Elkhorn Slough – sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, elegant terns, snowy egrets, and many more birds.
Sandholdt Rd. – Take a walk down Sandholdt Rd. to the beach and breakwater. We saw oodles of sea lions, barking away, and pelicans perched on the breakwater.
Whale watching cruises – At Moss Landing Harbor, pick up whale watching cruises on Monterey Bay to look for humpback, blue and gray whales, dolphins, sea lions. Cruises are year round.
Elkhorn Slough Visitor Center (1700 Elkhorn Road) - Stop into the visitor center to learn about the fascinating Elkhorn Slough coastal wetland. Fun exhibits about the crabs, giant worms, clams, snails that live in the mud, flowers, animals, touch tables, books. Visitor center is open Wed. - Sun., closed Mon. and Tues.
Outside the visitor center are picnic tables.
Go for an easy hike on the trails down around the wetlands to see many different shore birds, hummingbirds.

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