Delivering the California Good Life

Free and Cheap (and fun) things to do in Santa Cruz, CA

Weekend getaways don’t always have to break the bank. On a recent trip to Santa Cruz, team member Maya explored the many Free and Cheap (and fun) activities available…

Giant Hedge

Free and Cheap (and fun) giant hedge 1


Free and Cheap (and fun) scale of giant hedge


Free and Cheap (and fun) driveway through giant hedge


This is exactly what it sounds like. Located on the 200 block of Getchell St, between Chace and Wanzer street, this very large hedge is a lesser-known landmark that’s fun for the whole family. Accessible 24/7 but best viewed in daylight, this landmark is great to pose in front of for photos, fun to touch and look at in awe.

Free and Cheap (and fun) rating: 3/5

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Free and Cheap (and fun) boardwalk 3



Free and Cheap (and fun) boardwalk2



Free and Cheap (and fun)  beach view

The Boardwalk is the most popular and famous tourist destination in Santa Cruz. Think Santa Monica but bigger! With scary roller-coasters, amusement rides, games arcades and a gorgeous view of the ocean, there is really something for everyone. Also, if you are into fried/ State fair-style foods, you’re in for a treat. With no entrance fee, it’s a great place to hang out, people watch and enjoy the view, (all the rides/food and games are extra). “Opened in 1907, the entire amusement park is a California Historic Landmark and the 1911 Looff Carousel and the 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster are registered National Historic Landmarks on their own” –

Free and Cheap (and fun) rating: 4/5

Nisene Marks State Park

Free and Cheap (and fun) nisene marks view

Photo courtesy of  playhockeyeh via flickr

Free and Cheap (and fun) nisene marks redwood

Donated to the State of California in 1963 by the Marks family, this park has miles of trails which are perfect for jogging, hiking, geocaching and most definitely, cycling/mountain biking. It is a beautiful example of how a forest can regenerate after decades of logging. Fun Fact: Did you know that the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a staggering 6.9 magnitude, was in Nisene Marks State Parks and today, there is a sign posted in the exact spot.

Free and Cheap (and fun) rating: 4.5/5

Walk, ride, bike or drive down West Cliff Drive

Free and Cheap (and fun) west cliff drive

Photo courtesy of Richard Masnoner via flickr

This is a great strip of coastline that is pretty awesome especially if the sun is shining. It’s about 2-3 miles long and there are many benches, pullouts and seawalls to rest on along the way. If time allows, make sure to stop at the Lighthouse for some epic views and even pop into the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Driving is advised for rainier weather or for those who want to rest their feet for a while and still see the natural beauty of Santa Cruz coastline!

Free and Cheap (and fun) rating: 5/5 (Sunshine) 3.5/5 (Overcast)

Mystery Spot 

Free and Cheap (and fun) mystery spot entry



Free and Cheap (and fun) mystery car



Free and Cheap (and fun) mystery spot kid

Photo courtesy of Richard Masnoner via flickr

This hugely popular tourist attraction opened in 1941 and has remained one of the , the Mystery Spot is a place where gravity and physics laws do not apply. This area of beautiful redwoods is filled with optical illusions including water dripping upwards, balls rolling up and other wonky activities. this is an awesome for the kids, but grown-ups will love it too! You definitely need a camera to document your fun at this spot!

Free and Cheap (and fun) rating: 4.5/5

Court of Mysteries or “Temple of Doom”

Free and Cheap (and fun) court of mysteries




Free and Cheap (and fun) court of mysteries2

This temple stands out from its suburban neighbors- built entirely of beautiful brick and mother of pearl inlays, this building is speculator. Its purpose is unclear , as is the purpose of the run-down RV behind the main structure but it is amazing to look at.  Feel free to admire it from the sidewalk, as it’s on private property, there are many signs urging you not to enter the complex.  If you are intrugied by the weird and quirky, this is a must-see for you. Check out the link for full details and history of this strangely placed landmark.

Free and Cheap (and fun) rating: 3/5

As you can tell from all the original photos, it was overcast and foggy the entire time in Santa Cruz- no worries- there’s so much to see, rain or shine! :)



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