Free Things To Do This Summer

One of the major draws to living in Santa Cruz is the mild climate that leads to year-round outdoor activities, but there’s something very special about summertime here. From anticipated events like Woodies on the Wharf to the traditional Boardwalk beach concerts, here are some of the “can’t miss” events and free things to do this summer!

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Friday Night Beach Concerts & Wednesday Night Movies at the Boardwalk
Santa Cruz is famous for the Boardwalk and especially the free beach concerts every summer. Each year, bands from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s are gathered to play live on the beach on Friday nights from June through August. All you need to do is grab your beach chair and pack the cooler! Weekly movie nights are also hosted on the beach and feature classic movies, like The Lost Boys. Be sure to check out the line-up, as most of the movies are family-friendly. You can find more details here.

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Thursday Night Beach Parties at The Crow’s Nest
Every Thursday night in the Summer from 5:30 pm until sunset, The Crow’s Nest, located in the Twin Lakes neighborhood, draws a large crowd with a lively party located right on the beach. Enjoy this family-friendly event with live entertainment featuring the best of Santa Cruz’s local bands. Food and drinks are available for purchase. More information can be found here.


Edible Monterey Bay's Santa Cruz Summer Issue Release Party at Stockwell Cellars • June 19, 2019
Come celebrate the start of summer and the release of Edible Monterey Bay's new summer issue at Stockwell Cellars on the Westside. Enjoy elegant appetizers, including small bites like Manchego stuffed peppers, made with fresh seasonal ingredients will be provided by chef Adrienne Megoran of an epicurious lifestyle. Delicious Stockwell wines will be available at discounted prices, as you mingle with your friends from the edible community. As always, their release parties are free, but RSVP is requested as they fill up quickly. RSVP here. 

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Woodies on the Wharf • June 22, 2019
Woodies on the Wharf is a classic Santa Cruz event and Northern California’s largest woodie show. More than 200 wood-bodied cars gather on the Santa Cruz Wharf every June. Enjoy music, a raffle, and live demonstrations. These unique wood-bodiissioned station wagons were considered a luxury and were higher priced than their metal counterparts. They have not been made since the 1950’s and will now sell for $50k+ if they are in good condition. Santa Cruz Woodies is a chapter of the National Woodie Club. Click here for more event information.


Pleasure Point Street Fair June 22, 2019
This popular and annual event is held on Portola Drive between 41st and 38th Avenues, in the Pleasure Point neighborhood. Bike parking is available and admission is free. Enjoy great music by eight local bands, a kid’s zone, skateboard contest, close to 100 vendors selling arts, crafts, local services, food and beverages, a beer garden featuring New Bohemia Brewing Company’s lagers, wine, mimosas and spirits, and lots of food, including street tacos from Pleasure Point Business Association, Conscious Creations, Pono, Ate3One, Rogue Pye by Artisan Hand Food and Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine. Your Participation Supports the Live Oak Education Foundation. More information can be found here. 


Westside Summer Festival at the Old Wrigley Building • June 23, 2019
Celebrate summer at the first Westside Summer Festival! Santa Cruz Mountains Makers' Market and Food Trucks A Go Go have collaborated to bring you an eclectic mix of food vendors and artists. This free event is 100% local, with all vendors based here in Santa Cruz County. Participating food vendors include: Holopono Food Truck, Mattia Pizza Truck Santa Cruz, UNION foodie truck, India Gourmet, Areperia 831, Efi's Dutch-Indo, Aunt LaLi's Mobile Cafe, Beer from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Wine from Stockwell Cellars. More than 40 local artists will be selling their goods, such as handmade jewelry, clothing, body products, ceramics, fine art, textiles, chocolates, jams, glass work, henna, paper crafts and more! See the full line-up of artists here. Proceeds benefit Shared Adventures.


Family Fun Day at Harvey West Pool • July 27, 2019
Join the Santa Cruz County Parks Department, City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation, City of Watsonville - City Gov't, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Cruz County for an epic free family fun day! The fun will include inflatable obstacle courses, oversize board games, a pop-up playground, kickball, cornhole, food trucks, and swimming at Harvey West Pool! Register here. 

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Scotts Valley Art & Wine Festival • August 17 & 18, 2019
Hosted at Skypark, the 20th Annual Scotts Valley Art & Wine Festival is a 2-day event that features over 100 artists, wine and beer tasting, live entertainment, and a vintage car and trailer show that is hosted by the Scotts Valley Peace Officers Association. Artists come from all over California to showcase their work, ranging from paintings, photographs, ceramics, jewelry, to glass art, sculptures, etching, digital works, and textile art. For dog lovers, Sunday is the day to visit, with multiple contests for your dog to enter including a costume and look-a-like contest. There are also give-a-ways, free nail trimmings, and adoptions available. This is an event you don’t want to miss! More details are online here.

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Sailboat Races at Santa Cruz Harbor
From March to October, you can enjoy the weekly sailboat races down at the harbor, but what better time is there to watch them than when the weather is warm and the sun stays out longer? You can watch the sailboat races from Twin Lakes Beach alongside a picnic or view them while dining at the The Crow’s Nest.

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First Friday Santa Cruz
First Friday events take place every month, not only in the summer, but it’s such a great (and free!) event that warrants being a part of this list. Times and locations vary per month, but you can stay updated with the event listings here. Rain or shine, you can enjoy a variety of art shows on the first Friday of every month in Santa Cruz County. Sereno Group will be participating every month in 2019, hosting local artists at our office on 720 Front Street, downtown Santa Cruz. This month, we’ll be featuring photography by Erik Oberg and live music by Hannah Cooper on June 7th, 2019 from 5-7 pm. More details at the Facebook event link here.

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If you’re looking to get back and connect with nature, exploring tide-pools is the perfect (and free) way to do it. Take some time to discover these tiny ecosystems that are beaming with life. These small pools may contain hermit crabs, starfish, and even octopuses, you can never be sure of what you’ll find. Before you head out, check to see if it’s low tide. You can view the low and high tides here. The best spots to go tide-pooling in Santa Cruz are: