Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County and Paul Schraub

Key Info

21 Municipal Wharf


Shopping, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The Santa Cruz Wharf dining and shopping district sits on the water of a nearly 100-year-old wharf and features all those gifts that coworkers and family members expect you to bring back, from locally made Marini's Candies to Made in Santa Cruz apparel.

For most travelers, it's not the shops or eateries that warrant a visit here – it's the views from the wharf. Some recent travelers reported spotting sea lions lounging nearby, but others said the vistas of the famous surf spot Steamer Lane and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk are pretty awesome, too.

You'll find the Santa Cruz Wharf a little more than a mile south of the downtown area. Although visiting the wharf is free, parking will cost you: From September to March, daily parking costs at the wharf will set you back $12; from April to August, that daily rate doubles to $24. Restaurants and shops have different opening and closing times. For more information, check out the City of Santa Cruz's website.

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#1 West Cliff Drive

This 3-mile walking and biking path offers some of the best views of the county – and it's a great workout too. Along the way, you'll be treated to pristine vistas of the Pacific Ocean and you might even spot some surfers riding the waves at Steamer Lane or whales and dolphins cresting the water at Lighthouse Point. You can also stop in to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum along your stroll, which is stationed inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse.

Recent travelers and locals said West Cliff Drive is a must-do. According to reviewers, the beauty is unparalleled, and the benches that line the path are a nice pit stop along the 6-mile round-trip walk. To avoid crowded paths, some travelers recommend visiting on a weekday and also note parking can be difficult to come by on weekends. 

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Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County and Paul Schraub
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