Santa Cruz Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Santa Cruz

Owing to its coastal location in Central California, Santa Cruz is largely regarded as the birthplace of U.S. surfing. Other than that, the city's main attraction is a long wharf stretching far into Monterey Bay, packed with eateries and shops. Those in favor of vintage entertainment will find it in plenty at the nearby Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, featuring the 1911 Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Downtown, Pacific Avenue abounds in vintage clothing stores, cafes and galleries. Follow this orientation walk and explore the delights of Santa Cruz in their variety!
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Santa Cruz Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Santa Cruz Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Santa Cruz (See other walking tours in Santa Cruz)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Author: karenl
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Santa Cruz Mission
  • Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
  • Regal Santa Cruz 9
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
  • Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
  • Del Mar Theater
  • Pacific Avenue
  • Neary Lagoon
  • Monterey Bay National Marine
  • Santa Cruz Wharf
  • La Bahia Apartments
  • Neptune's Kingdom
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Mission

1) Santa Cruz Mission (must see)

Mission Santa Cruz was a Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in present-day Santa Cruz. The mission was founded in 1791 and named for the feast of the Exultation of the Cross, the name that the explorer Gaspar de Portolà gave to the area when he camped on the banks of the San Lorenzo River on October 17, 1769, and erected a wooden cross. As with the other California missions, Mission Santa Cruz served as a site for ecclesiastical conversion of natives, first the Ohlone, the original inhabitants of the region, and later the Yokuts from the east. The settlement was the site of the first autopsy in Alta California.

The current Holy Cross Church was built on the site of the original mission church in 1889, and it remains an active parish of the Diocese of Monterey. A half-size replica of the original mission church was built near the mission site in the 1930s and functions as a chapel of Holy Cross Church. Today's Plaza Park occupies the same location as the original plaza, at the center of the former Mission complex. The complex at one time included as many as 32 buildings. The only surviving mission building, a dormitory for native acolytes, has been restored to its original appearance and functions as a museum of the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

2) Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park (must see)

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park was built in 1791 and is one of the mission’s buildings that still operates. This little museum in downtown Santa Cruz focuses on historical visual culture and carries a permanent collection of historical artifacts that exemplify the history of Santa Cruz. The museum offers many interesting activities and their program also includes tours of the Evergreen Cemetery, Octagon building and the Davenport Jail Museum. This building is the best venue for tourists interested in the unique history of this town.
Regal Santa Cruz 9

3) Regal Santa Cruz 9

Located downtown on Pacific Avenue, the Regal Santa Cruz 9 the biggest theater in the area that has nine separate theaters and tends to show to the public only mainstream films. This building was bought by the Regal chain recently, the largest theater chain in the nation, and now is called the Regal Cinema 9. The theater is always clean, the picture and sound system are of the best quality, the seats are comfortable, and is a decent place to see a first-run movie. Situated right in downtown Santa Cruz, you can't miss it and is plenty to do before or after your movie.
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

4) Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (must see)

Through its wide exhibitions, interesting programs and unique collections, the Museum of Art & History tries to help visitors understand the culture and history of Santa Cruz County. The museum offers many research opportunities and historic resources for Santa Cruz locals and visitors, who are charmed by exhibitions about Santa Cruz surf culture, antique paintings and artifacts. The nicest part of the museum is the store, which carries interesting gift items and a lovely sculpture garden outside. Explore this little museum and find its hidden secrets.

Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday open from 10 am-7 pm, Friday open from 10 am-8 pm, Saturday open from 10 am - 3 pm.
Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

5) Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Opened in 1940 in downtown Santa Cruz, the Civic Auditorium is home to the Santa Cruz Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival and also to the events that include meetings, exhibits, concerts, and private gatherings. For many years, one entertainment venue is above all the others in Santa Cruz and that location is the Civic Auditorium that has impressed everyone with its beautiful architecture and better schedule. Arched granite pillars cover the brick entryway and warm colors fill the halls to maintain an inviting, relaxing atmosphere. Check the building out by reserving tickets to one of the upcoming events.
Del Mar Theater

6) Del Mar Theater

Originally opened on August 14, 1936, the Theatre Del Mar is a great masterpiece in Santa Cruz. The main theater downstairs grand auditorium has been renovated maintaining the former fame of the original, while the balcony has been converted into two seating auditoriums. What was once a splendid movie palace is now a modernized cineplex. This place offers mostly independent and Indian films and sometimes older films as well. Today, the Del Mar is a beloved Santa Cruz landmark and the beautiful architecture and design means that going to movie here really feels like an event.
Pacific Avenue

7) Pacific Avenue

Pacific Avenue in the City of Santa Cruz, formerly known as the Pacific Garden Mall, runs North to South from Water Street/Mission Street and twists around a bit, eventually hitting Beach Street and the Municipal Wharf. The Avenue is the center of the city's downtown. It has shops, restaurants, theatres, and interesting people. Pacific Avenue is known for street performers.
Neary Lagoon

8) Neary Lagoon

Located in the middle of Santa Cruz, Neary Lagoon is an improbable place for a wetland habitat and the habitat is designed to preserve this wetland area, as well as increase viewing of wetland ecosystems and animals. This large city park has interesting signs identifying local birds and common migratory species and is a wildlife refuge with an unusual emphasis on birdwatching. Visit the park anytime you need to relax or just enjoy the beautiful views.
Monterey Bay National Marine

9) Monterey Bay National Marine

Educational multimedia exhibits include theater, touch pools & a remotely operated underwater robot.
Santa Cruz Wharf

10) Santa Cruz Wharf (must see)

Built in 1914, the Santa Cruz Wharf is famous for its restaurants, gift shops, fishing, dining and boat tours that cater mostly to tourists. The scenic Santa Cruz wharf is the best place for enjoying events and the most popular attraction is the seals. Rent a fishing pole, learn to surf, sail, visit the local artist shop or just enjoy shopping at many boutiques and fresh fish markets. They can also arrange for pier fishing and whale watching from the wharf. Santa Cruz Wharf is the best seal viewing area and the best place to enjoy seafood while taking in the ocean view.
Sight description based on wikipedia
La Bahia Apartments

11) La Bahia Apartments

A quiet relic of 1920s Spanish architecture, La Bahia Apartments is famous for its white walls and a great view of the beach from its apartments. Here the visitors can inhale the fresh air that fill La Bahia's outdoor courtyard and admire the fountain bubbles between a blossoming flower garden. There were and persist to be many disputes on living the La Bahia as it is or re-construct it in a modern hotel. Here you'll inhale the fresh air that fill La Bahia's outdoor courtyard and admire the fountain bubbles between a blossoming flower garden.
Neptune's Kingdom

12) Neptune's Kingdom (must see)

Located on the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this center provides entertainment for family, friends and kids. Historically, the building was the location of the Water Carnival and had a huge indoor pool, but in 1963 it was transformed into a mini golf course. The upstairs Captain's Game Deck is loaded with pool tables, hockey, arcade games, snacks, foosball and cold beer, and downstairs is the place for video games and pinball machines. If you are just a tourist of Santa Cruz, make sure to go upstairs and visit the gallery with old pictures and displays of what Neptune's used to be.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

13) Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (must see)

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an oceanfront amusement founded in 1907, it is California's oldest surviving amusement park and one of the few seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States.

The eastern end of the boardwalk is dominated by the Giant Dipper roller coaster, one of the best-known wooden coasters in the world and one of the most visible landmarks in Santa Cruz. The Dipper and the Looff Carousel, which still contains its original 342-pipe organ built in 1894, are both on the US National Register of Historic Places. They were, together, declared to be a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and the park is California Historical Landmark also.

Old-fashioned carnival games and snack booths can be found throughout the 24-acre (9.7 ha) park. The beach was a destination for railroads and trolleys since 1875; a short passenger service to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was restored in 1985.

It has won the Best Seaside Amusement Park Award from Amusement Today in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Although there is no admission and the beach is public, parking is charged a fee when the rides are open.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Santa Cruz, California

Create Your Own Walk in Santa Cruz

Create Your Own Walk in Santa Cruz

Creating your own self-guided walk in Santa Cruz is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Specialty Shops Walk

Specialty Shops Walk

Santa Cruz is home to an appealing variety of gifts, antiques and specialty shops. Stroll through Santa Cruz’s best shops on your own or check your favorite Santa Cruz store on this tour. Downtown Santa Cruz has the key to the best shopping experience, with over 200 original stores and shops. It's all here, don't miss it.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

Before you set out on your trip to Santa Cruz, the following are top museums worth visiting. These museums tell their stories through photographs, history, art, surfboards and other related items. Take this tour to discover the natural history and best museums in this city.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 Miles
Beach Walking Tour

Beach Walking Tour

Santa Cruz is home to many beautiful and unique beaches. You will find the major part of the tourists and locals on the sunny beaches, some are surfing, some are enjoying an ice-cream on the Boardwalk, everybody has fun here. Take this amazing tour to discover the best attractions along the beaches of Santa Cruz.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Capitola District Walking Tour

Capitola District Walking Tour

Capitola is an intimate beach village situated Santa Cruz County on the Monterey Bay, and is home to different interesting galleries, restaurants, museums and specialty shops. Located an hour from San Francisco, Capitola is full of great traditions and interesting history. It is the perfect place where Begonia Festival fascinates tourists every weekend, along with live music and sand castle...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Historical Churches

Historical Churches

Santa Cruz is the biggest city of Santa Cruz County, California. Santa Cruz has a lot of beautiful churches and religious centers. Even though Orthodox and Catholic churches predominate, there are also Moslem, Jewish and Buddhist communities. Take this tour to learn about the most famous religious buildings and get a sense of the spiritual life of Santa Cruz.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles