Located along the Pacific Flyway on California's spectacular Central Coast, Santa Cruz County is a premier birding destination. Its rich diversity of habitats attract upwards of 400 species of resident and migratory birds. In the old-growth forest of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, you can catch sight of the Marbled Murrelet flying through the trees at dawn. You'll find Snowy Plover skittering across the sandy beaches at Pajaro Dunes. Waterfowl dive and dabble at Wetlands of Watsonville's freshwater marshes. Hummingbirds dart among the exotic flora at the Arboretum at UCSC. And at the renowned Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, you can walk the trails or kayak the waters to see over 340 different species of birds that pass through or find permanent refuge at the slough.
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Touch a shark, marvel at a whale of a skeleton, dive into the latest discoveries in ocean science. Exhibits, aquarium, daily tours, touch pools & Ocean Discovery Shop. Come explore your ocean!
Visitor center & five miles of trails through oak woodlands, grasslands, fresh & saltwater marshes, seasonal wildlife.
Waddell Beach attracts surfers, kite and windsurfers, tide pool explorers and families. Rancho Del Oso offers biking, hiking, trail camps, horseback riding and camp, waterfalls, guided family activities and a great Nature Center. Free parking. Sorry, no dogs!
The Santa Cruz Bird Club was founded in 1956. The Club sponsors birding walks in and around the county of Santa Cruz and meetings September through May featuring informative, illustrated talks for birders on wild birds and related topics. Walks and presentations are free and open to the public.
Extending out over a half mile into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Santa Cruz Wharf is the longest timber pile pier on the United States coast and one of the longest in the world. Whether viewing whales, dolphins, sea lions or sea otters is your pleasure or watching the local talent rip the break at world renown Steamer Lane is what quickens your pulse, it all awaits at the Santa Cruz Wharf. Take in the view at one of nine restaurants and enjoy the freshest seafood, finest local wines and the friendliest service on the coast or get up close and personal if you like, kayaks, fishing skiffs and standup paddleboard rentals are all available at hourly and daily rates on the wharf. You can also enjoy soda fountain specialties and handmade confections as you stroll the deck, stop in upstairs and sample a tasty local vintage to take home or find that Cruz style garb or gear that looks and fits so well it makes you smile every time you put it on. The Santa Cruz Wharf is the "Gateway to the Bay" and the best kind of place to spend the day.
Delicious desserts, pastries, salads, sandwiches & more
Across from beach & wharf, beautiful gardens.
Kayak tours & rentals daily, beginners welcome!
Stained glass windows & over-sized spas available.
Check out a local birding experts top picks