One of the best parts about living in Santa Cruz is having some of the state’s most beautiful landscapes in your own backyard. From the glistening Pacific Ocean to the redwood forests, there’s so much to love about Santa Cruz.
All of these fantastic natural spaces bring seemingly endless opportunities for residents to get outside and exercise.
Here are some of the best ways to stay active in Santa Cruz:
Hike Through the State Parks
Santa Cruz’s state parks have networks of trails that wind around redwood forests and natural landscapes.
These parks are the perfect places to go for hikes. They have tons of trailways that cater to different skill levels, making it easy to find hikes that best suit you.
One of the most popular hiking locations in Santa Cruz is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It’s just north of the city center and has over 4,650 acres of forested land.
There you can hike among the oldest redwoods in the city—some dating back 1,500 years. Along your hike you’ll come across grasslands, rivers, and sandhills which give this state park it’s unique landscape.
On every single hike, you’ll be shaded by skyscraping trees, so you never have to worry about getting a sunburn.
Wilder Ranch State Park has some of the most phenomenal hikes in the city. Stretching from the ocean to the forests, you’ll encounter unbeatable views at every turn.
The park’s Pacific to Redwoods Loop has a mix of terrains, making it an ideal hike for those who are looking for a challenge.
Swim, Surf, and Paddleboard at the Beach
Santa Cruz is known for its beautiful, white-sand beaches that attract tons of visitors to the city each year. Fortunately, locals don’t have to travel too far to have access to some of the best beaches in the country.
If you’re looking for ways to stay active in Santa Cruz, go to the beach! There are countless activities, like swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding, that are sure to get your heartrate up.
Main Beach and Cowell Beach are known for their gentle rolling waves, making them idyllic spots for swimmers, first-time surfers, and paddle boarders.
To skip the crowd and have a relaxing day in the water, head over to Capitola Beach. Since this beach is located on Monterey Bay, the waves aren’t as intense, creating the perfect conditions for swimmers and paddle boarders.
For surfers who are in search of a challenge, head over to Pleasure Point. This area is popular among intermediate surfers who love large waves and intense landscapes.
Go for a Bike Ride
As more and more streets around Santa Cruz incorporate bike lanes, biking has become a popular activity to keep in shape.
Santa Cruz’s city center has added plenty of bike lanes to its streets, giving bikers a scenic, yet safe cruz around town.
To see some of the best views in Santa Cruz, ride your bike along West Cliff Drive. This road winds around the oceanside, giving bikers amazing views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean and the cliffs that shoot into the water.
If you’re interested in finding other biking routes around town, use a resource like MapMyRide. You can search for new biking trails that suit your skill level.
For more challenging bikes rides, head up to one of the city’s state parks. Wilder State Park and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park have plenty of trails and pathways that are built for mountain biking. You can traverse across uneven landscapes that make for a more difficult ride.
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is another phenomenal place to ride. You can bike around gorgeous redwoods on pathways for varying skill levels.
Run Around Town
A common complaint about running is that it can seem boring—but not in Santa Cruz. There is so much beautiful scenery everywhere you go, it’s easy to fall in love with running and exploring new places.
Santa Cruz’s state parks are popular locations to go running through forests of redwoods. They’re great spots for intermediate runners who enjoy changes in elevation and uneven terrain.
One of the perks of running in these forests is that you get continuous shade from the trees.
Other great places to go for a jog in Santa Cruz is at one of its beaches. These are the most relaxing places for jogs because you can listen to waves crashing on the shore and birds chirping their songs.
Another terrific aspect of running on the beach is that if you need to cool off after your jog, you can hop in the ocean!
For a more intense workout, visit Seacliff State Beach where you can find tall staircases that you can run up and down.