Wilder Ranch State Park

#8 in Best Things To Do in Santa Cruz
Wilder Ranch State Park picture
Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County and Greg Pio

Key Info

1401 Coast Rd.

Details

Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.2

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Located just west of central Santa Cruz, Wilder Ranch State Park is a 1800s-era dairy ranch, home to a Victorian homestead and a water-powered machine shop (both of which travelers can tour). Visitors can also stretch their legs on the property's more than 35 miles of trails, which crisscross the Santa Cruz Mountains and line the coastal bluffs. 

Recent travelers said the ranch's buildings are interesting, but that the real treasure is the ability to hike, bike or horseback ride on the trails, which feature beautiful views unfettered by passing cars. 

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. Although admission is free, parking at the state park costs $10. You'll find Wilder Ranch State Park just west of central Santa Cruz. For more information, check out the California Department of Parks and Recreation'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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