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Unforgettable Road Trips from Santa Cruz: Discovering the Surrounding Beauty

By Sarah Johnson, Posted on 07 Jun, 2023 at 12:07 pm

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Unforgettable Road Trips from Santa Cruz: Discovering the Surrounding Beauty


Santa Cruz, California, not only offers its own array of attractions and activities but also serves as the perfect starting point for epic road trips. With stunning coastal drives, towering forests, and picturesque landscapes just a short distance away, Santa Cruz opens the door to unforgettable adventures. In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey through the scenic routes and breathtaking destinations that await beyond Santa Cruz. Buckle up and get ready to explore the natural wonders and hidden gems that make road tripping from Santa Cruz an adventure of a lifetime.


Highway 1: The Iconic Big Sur Coastal Drive

A road trip from Santa Cruz to Big Sur along Highway 1 is an absolute must for any traveler. As you wind along the dramatic coastline, you'll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches. Take your time to explore Pfeiffer Beach, famous for its distinctive rock formations and colorful sunsets. Don't miss the chance to visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where you'll find McWay Falls, a picturesque waterfall that cascades directly into the ocean. With its awe-inspiring beauty, the Big Sur coastal drive promises a truly unforgettable experience.


Discovering the Santa Cruz Mountains

Just inland from Santa Cruz lies the enchanting Santa Cruz Mountains, offering a scenic escape from the coastal beauty. Start your journey by driving through the winding roads of Highway 9, which takes you through lush forests and charming mountain towns. Visit Castle Rock State Park, known for its unique rock formations and breathtaking hiking trails. Fall in love with the charming town of Boulder Creek, where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll or visit the historic Boulder Creek Golf Course. For an immersive natural experience, explore Big Basin Redwoods State Park, home to ancient redwood trees and stunning waterfalls.


The Quaint Towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea

Just a short drive south of Santa Cruz, you'll find the picturesque towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Start your visit at Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can discover the rich marine life of the Pacific Ocean. Stroll along Cannery Row, filled with charming shops, restaurants, and art galleries. From there, continue to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a town known for its fairytale-like atmosphere. Explore the scenic Carmel Beach, browse the boutiques along Ocean Avenue, and admire the unique architecture of the Carmel Mission Basilica. These coastal towns offer a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and seaside charm.


Santa Cruz Wine Country: Tasting the Local Delights

For wine enthusiasts, a road trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region is a must. Explore the vineyards and wineries that dot the hillsides, offering exquisite wines and stunning views. Visit wineries such as Bargetto Winery in Soquel or Byington Vineyard and Winery in Los Gatos, where you can indulge in wine tastings and learn about the winemaking process. The Santa Cruz Mountains wine country is a hidden gem, producing award-winning wines and providing a tranquil escape in the midst of nature.



Santa Cruz, California, not only captivates visitors with its own attractions and activities but also serves as the gateway to unforgettable road trips. From the iconic Big Sur coastal drive to the enchanting Santa Cruz Mountains and the picturesque towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, the surrounding destinations offer a wealth of natural beauty, hidden gems, and cultural richness. Embark on these road trips and let the breathtaking landscapes and captivating experiences leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

About Author

Sarah Johnson

Sarah produces creative and informative content based on her travel experience. She keeps her blogs up-to-date with the latest information. 

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