7 Family Friendly Things to do in Santa Cruz During Christmas Weekend

monarchs at Natural Bridges

Happy Holidays!

Our roundup of events is lighter than usual this weekend, as the big event will be time with family.

If you’re entertaining out of town guests, see our top 7 picks for things to do this weekend, plus a day-by-day guide of music, nature walks, and more:

7 Things To Do With Family This Weekend

Toy Trains at the MAH

santa cruz mah toy trains
When: 12/16 – 12/31 (closed Christmas Day and closes early at 3pm on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.)
Where: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Cost: Free

Every family has a toy train lover young or old, and often both! Bring the whole crew down to get hands on with five tracks of train, including the Hogwarts Express. This annual exhibit is open through Dec. 31.

Get more info here.

Annieglass Studio Pour and Tour

When: Thursday-Sundays at 1:30 pm, or by appointment (Closed Dec. 25 – Jan. 3)
Where: Annieglass Watsonville
Cost: Studio tours are Free; Wine tasting fee waived with bottle purchase.

Fun Fact: Annieglass is on permanent display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Take a tour of the production studio and see how Annieglass is handcrafted. Enjoy wine tasting, and shop some great deals at the store on both first quality and discounted second pieces.

Get more info here.

Bowl for Free at the Boardwalk Bowl


When: Sunday through Friday and Saturday before 8:00 pm
Where: Boardwalk Bowl
Cost: Free with donation (shoe rental not included)

Bowl for free and for a good cause when you bring canned food donations to help “Strike Out Hunger” at the Boardwalk Bowl. Donations go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County to help feed local families.

Get more info here.

Tour the Monarch Grove at Natural Bridges

When: Daily until Dec. 31, at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm
Where: Natural Bridges State Beach
Cost: Day use parking $10

There’s still time to visit the monarchs at the their winter home, the eucalyptus grove at Natural Bridges State Beach. No reservation is necessary for groups fewer than 10.

Get more info here.

Visit the UCSC Arboretum

ucsc arboretum hummingbird

When: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Closed 12/25-26 and 12/30-31)
Where: UC Santa Cruz Aboretum
Cost: $5 for Adults and $2 for Children (6 to 17 years old), and free under 6.

The arboretum is a wonderful place to visit and take in a diverse collection of plants as well as native plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and California. During November’s Community Day, we spotted the rare white Anna’s Hummingbird that has been frequenting the gardens since May! This is also a great chance to see the fantastic Art in the Arboretum sculpture exhibit that ends on January 10.

Get more info here.

Farley’s Christmas Wonderland


When: December 7-31 from 5:45 pm to 9:00 pm (closes at 8:15 on Christmas)
Where: 108 Seaview Ave.
Cost: Donations accepted

Tucked away in Seabright is a one-of-a-kind local neighborhood attraction: Farley’s Christmas Wonderland. Pat Farley, a local Seabright resident, creates an elaborate Christmas-themed oasis each year in his front yard and opens it up for the public to walk through and view. If you’re looking for a uniquely local Christmas experience to share with family then consider stopping by Farley’s Christmas Wonderland.

Visit the Farley’s Christmas Wonderland website or Facebook page for more information.

Go on a Bucket List Hike

If you want to share some of the best of what Santa Cruz County has to offer with your out-of-town guests, then a hike just might be the answer. Here are two of our favorite ‘bucket list’ hikes. One features sandhills up in the redwoods while the other includes a breathtaking waterfall.

Berry Creek FallsBerry Creek Falls: Big Basin’s Bucket List Hike

Three waterfalls within a mile of each other…that’s what we call a Santa Cruz Life experience. This is a true bucket list item and we want to help you cross it off your list.

Read more.

Santa Cruz Sandhills: Henry Cowell HikeSanta Cruz Sandhills: The Henry Cowell Trail Less Traveled

For a truly “only in Santa Cruz” experience, you can’t beat a visit to the Santa Cruz Sandhills. That’s because this naturally-rare ecosystem can only be found right here in our county.

Read more.


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santa cruz instagramKeep up with us all weekend long, and see which events we’re attending, by following Santa Cruz Life on Instagram.


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Check out all the New Year’s Events (and don’t miss out on First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day).

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About Christine Candelaria

Christine Candelaria is a local mom of four who enjoys sharing her Santa Cruz adventures. You can follow her #santacruzlife on Instagram at @theaumsmama.