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Santa Cruz Wharf

Take the family to this seaside playground on the Central Coast

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Host to popular annual events such as April’s Jazz on the Wharf music festival and June’s Woodies on the Wharf classic car show, this half-mile-long pier draws 1.5 million to 2 million visitors each year. Keep an eye out for resident sea lions frolicking beneath as you stroll the gift shops (check out Made in Santa Cruz for a local souvenir), belly up to the wine bar for a sunset view, and dine above the waves in one of the wharf’s 10 restaurants.

The wharf—the family-friendly counterpart to romantic, nearby Capitola Wharf—is also a hub for exploring the surrounding Monterey Bay, from fishing and whale-watching excursions to kayak and SUP rentals. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, home to one of the oldest amusement parks in the state, is also just east of the wharf: Don’t miss a ride on the Giant Dipper, the park’s famed wooden roller coaster. 

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An ocean shore

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