For me, Santa Cruz itself was somewhat underwhelming. Maybe I made a mistake going mid-week, as the amusement park wasn’t on and the beach wasn’t that busy. The “relaxed hippy vibe” I’d read about just seemed like a slightly dodgy atmosphere. Though I must point out that it had some great book and music stores that are definitely worth a look. That said, my first impressions of Santa Cruz inspired me to check out what the natural surroundings had to offer.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located near Felton, a charming little town that’s a pleasure to walk through to reach the park. It has a few cafes and food shops if you need a snack before or after your walk. It can be reached from Santa Cruz either by a 20 minute drive or an hour-long bus which will only cost you a couple of dollars. The longish bus ride is well worth it, as you can listen to music and enjoy the scenery of the Santa Cruz mountain area.
The park is beautiful and has so much to offer in terms of scenery and photo opportunities, from quaint bridges and breathtaking redwood trees to the “Roaring Camp” railroad which offers the opportunity to take an old-fashioned steam engine ride through the Santa Cruz mountains. Additionally, you should be able to spot some wildlife in the park- there are plenty of squirrels around and I was nearly mowed down by two gorgeous fawns! We also met the park ranger who was very friendly and enthusiastic to tell us about the history of the park. Another highlight of this park on a weekday is that it isn’t too busy and once you’re off the beaten path, it’s a really peaceful way to spend a day.
For anyone travelling around the California coast or Santa Cruz area, I really recommend that you explore this park as the amazing scenery really left an impression on me.