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Best Weekend Trips from Santa Cruz

Best Weekend Trips from Santa Cruz

Take a load off and enjoy one of the best weekend trips from Santa Cruz; beautiful times are just a short trip away. Team


2 min read

June 22, 2023

Santa Cruz, the bustling beach town known for its stunning coastline, vibrant culture, and iconic boardwalk, is a fantastic starting point for many weekend trips that pack in excitement, beauty, and adventure. If you're a local seeking a change of scenery or a tourist looking to extend your Californian experience, here are our top picks for unforgettable weekend getaways.

Yosemite National Park

Just a few hours drive from Santa Cruz, Yosemite National Park is an epic weekend destination that defies convention. This UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for its ancient sequoias, panoramic vistas, and the majestic El Capitan, will thrill outdoor enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

Spend your day hiking through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias or rafting down the Merced River. Stay in a cozy cabin or set up camp under the starry sky. Whether you're drawn to its raw, captivating beauty or the adrenaline-pumping activities it offers, Yosemite never disappoints.

The iconic Yosemite National Park is one of the best weekend getaway destinations in all of California.

Napa Valley

Switch from surfboards to wine glasses and head to Napa Valley, California's premier wine country. It's about a 3-hour drive from Santa Cruz, making it the perfect place to unwind over a weekend.

Visit world-renowned wineries like Robert Mondavi or Cakebread Cellars. Hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train for a unique dining experience as you traverse the picturesque landscape. Don't forget to explore local artisan shops in downtown Napa, or indulge in a rejuvenating spa session at one of the many luxury resorts.

Take a trip over to Wine Country and see one of the top locations on Earth for wine production.

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San Francisco

Just an hour and a half away, San Francisco is a vibrant city filled with iconic landmarks, eclectic neighborhoods, and a culinary scene to rival any city in the world. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the historic cable cars, San Francisco is a cultural melting pot that offers something for everyone.

Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, stroll through the lively Fisherman's Wharf, or savor diverse cuisines in Chinatown or the Mission District. San Francisco's dynamic arts scene is not to be missed, with venues like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and The Fillmore delivering world-class exhibitions and performances.

There's an unlimited number of exciting things to do in San Francisco, making it a great place for repeated trips throughout the year.

Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea

South of Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea present a tranquil retreat, approximately an hour's drive away. Monterey's world-famous aquarium is an ocean lover's paradise, and Fisherman's Wharf is a hub of activity with its seafood restaurants and whale-watching tours.

Just a few miles away, Carmel-by-the-Sea, with its fairytale cottages and pristine white sand beach, offers a quaint charm that's hard to resist. Explore its unique art galleries, boutiques, and don't miss the awe-inspiring sunset at Carmel Beach.

If you want to explore a nearby beach town that is similarly beautiful, travel over to Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Pinnacles National Park

If rugged landscapes and rock formations catch your fancy, then Pinnacles National Park, just two hours away, is a must-visit. This hidden gem is home to towering rock spires, extensive cave networks, and an array of wildlife including the endangered California condor.

Experience the thrill of rock climbing, explore the talus caves, or simply enjoy a serene hike along the park's various trails. The park's remote location also makes it a fantastic spot for stargazing, capping off an adventurous weekend under the cosmic canopy.

Pinnacles National Park is a great location for an outdoor weekend getaway filled with hiking or rock climbing.

These diverse weekend trips from Santa Cruz prove that California is not just about the beaches - it's a state teeming with culture, history, nature, and epicurean delights. Whether you're after relaxation, adventure, or a mix of both, these destinations offer a refreshing respite from the regular. So pack your bags, hit the road, and let the golden state surprise you!

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