Things to do in
Santa Cruz, California

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Our most recommended things to do in Santa Cruz, California

San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

1. San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

Begin your tour by traveling south on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, California Highway 1. Head to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. At your first rest stop in Davenport, you will have a chance to take a selfie with the whole Pacific as your backdrop.  At Monterey, you will have 2 hours on your own to explore. You can visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, rent a kayak or paddleboard, hike along the coast, or take a bike to roam. You can also stroll among the quaint boutiques and art shops along the historic Cannery Row. Grab a seafood lunch at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  Enjoy another eyeful of Pacific beauty along the scenic 17-Mile Drive through Del Monte Forest and take photographs of the hardy Lone Cyprus Tree. This famous road winds its way by magnificent homes and the spectacular coastline, between the greens and tees of world famous golf courses, and among the last remaining forest of a rare species of the Monterey Cypress.  Your scenic drive finishes at Pebble Beach Village. Upon arrival in the enchanted town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you can explore the boutique shops on Ocean Avenue and be dazzled by the white sandy beach. If there is time, you can visit the historic Carmel Mission. Then, it will be time to head back to San Francisco. 

Pacific Coast Highway: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour

2. Pacific Coast Highway: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour

Drive along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway and experience the beauty of the California coast. Take advantage of the flexibility to set your own pace between stops during the self-guided app-based audio tour. See Monterey, the famous beach town known for its prestigious aquarium, and the popular golf courses of Pebble Beach. Stop off at picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea, an artsy enclave where Clint Eastwood was once mayor. Hear the sound of barking sea lions at Point Lobos State Park, whose rocky headlands are interspersed with jewel-like coves. Big Sur is one of the not-to-be-missed highlights along the scenic road, where you can enjoy gorgeous views, waterfalls, and bridges. Near San Simeon, the home of Hearst Castle, pull off at Piedras Blancas Beach, where enormous elephant seals can be spotted in the winter months. Before cutting inland to San Luis Obispo, stop to admire Morro Bay Rock and hunt for anemones in the tidal pools. Explore Santa Barbara’s quintessential downtown and then continue down to Ventura and Malibu. If you started the drive in San Francisco, end your tour in Los Angeles at the famous Santa Monica Pier. The audio tour is curated by local guides and creative writers and is narrated by professional voice artists.

From San Francisco: 2-Day Monterey & Yosemite Tour

3. From San Francisco: 2-Day Monterey & Yosemite Tour

Explore the beauty of Northern California in just 2 days with a trip to the coastal towns of Monterey and Carmel on the first day and Yosemite National Park on the second day. Get the most out of your trip on this small-group guided tour. Day 1 Start your day with a convenient hotel pickup and drive along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Pass coastal mountains overlooking turquoise waters and sandy beaches, where windsurfers ride the waves.  Watch sea lions enjoying the warm sun on the rocks. Discover Monterey‘s Cannery Row, made famous by Steinbeck‘s novels. Browse the boutique shops or enjoy a famous fish delicacy offered by the many restaurants dotting the shoreline. Next, continue along Pacific Grove and onto the 17-Mile Drive, stopping along the way to photograph famous landmarks like Pebble Beach golf club and the lone cypress tree. Stop in Carmel, considered one of the most beautiful villages along the pacific coast, before heading inland through the San Joaquin valley to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Spend the night in Oakhurst, just outside Yosemite National Park. Day 2 Start the second day by entering Yosemite National Park through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. Walk through this ancient forest of 3000-year-old trees that can reach 36 feet in diameter. Continue to the famous Yosemite Valley Tunnel View, featuring views of Yosemite's famous granite cliffs, carved out by ancient glaciers. Take a walk, a swim, or a bike ride around the base of Yosemite Falls. Enjoy your free afternoon to discover this spectacular park before heading back to San Francisco, where you will be dropped off around 8 PM.

Monterey: 24-Hour or 48-hour Motorcycle Rental

4. Monterey: 24-Hour or 48-hour Motorcycle Rental

Rent a motorcycle to explore California’s Big Sur in an unforgettable way. Begin your adventure in the Monterey area after your motorcycle delivery to your local hotel.  Head out on your adventure to explore Cali’s diverse landscapes, whether you choose 24-hour or 48-hour hire. Ride a 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 400abs, selected for its ease of operation by novices and more experienced riders alike. Appreciate the Pacific Coast as you hit the road, or head inland to explore the canyons and mountainous terrain. Enjoy the freedom to choose what you see. Even meet fellow motorcyclists on the way.

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What people are saying about Santa Cruz, California

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 36 reviews

Excellent tour, covered all the major spots along California coast from Santa Cruz to Monterey to Carmel by the sea with important stops along the coast with appropriate time to take photos. Our your guide Doug and river Jason were pretty amazing and Doug has a thorough knowledge and passion and he was did an excellent job explaining all the important history on the tour. 17 Mile drive and pebble Beach were pretty amazing and beautiful. In Carmel, if you do not plan to shop, consider walking to the beach, it's a 0.5 mile walk slightly tedious walk (considering all the elevations) from the bus stop but it's worth it. In Monterey, aquarium will always be sold out when you arrive unless you dont book it prior, so 2 he is a little long, but considering it in life's lunch stop too, it totally makes sense. Apart from cannery row, consider taking a walk across lovers point trail in Pacific Grove which is just next to cannery row, it's pretty scenic.

We were pleasantly surprised with how nice everything was for the price. Quality coach bus, well planned tour, knowledgeable driver, beautiful sites. It was absolutely the highlight of our visit to the Bay area. Patrick the driver was amazing!

Loved this tour! We learned so much about the area from Alex. He’s a charismatic guide with a sense of humor. We had beautiful views along the coast. Highly recommend!

Excellent tour. Great photo opportunities during the ride. Plenty of time at each stop. The tour guide was very nice and a lot of fun

I have learned a lot about San fransisco and the other towns around. Very interesting.