Father’s Day is upon us, and Santa Cruz County is full of fun ways to celebrate with dad on his special day. Start the day off with an action-packed adventure, and round it out with some well-deserved BBQ and locally brewed beer or small-batch spirits. Later in the day, a stand-up comedy session will put dad in the mood for a good laugh. Options abound for outdoor adventures of all types, from skydiving to ocean sports to hiking in the redwoods, or maybe dad would prefer a train ride or zip lining adventure. If he feels like tucking into some good BBQ and enjoying a tasty beverage, check out Aptos St. BBQ, and you can always hit up the Crow’s Nest for Comedy Night to work out those core muscles with some hearty belly laughs. Read on for more in-depth information on our top picks for Father’s Day fun in the area. Top image: Shutterstock.
Santa Cruz Harbor
Celebrate with dad by heading down to SUP Shack in the Santa Cruz Harbor. Sign up for lessons together or just rent a couple boards to paddle around the harbor. For beginners just starting out, the calm inner Harbor is the perfect place for learning. If you get the hang of it or you’ve done it before, you can take a calm, relaxing cruise around the Harbor. You and dad will see plenty of local, curious wildlife as you paddle around. You can also sign up for a tour together.
Kayaking is an ideal way to discover the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nation's largest and most diverse marine ecosystem. The wildlife that calls this place home will make Father’s Day truly memorable. Folks can explore the Elkhorn Slough, a popular kayaking destination where sea otters, harbor seals, and an array of migratory birds abound. Exploring the Slough's tidal creeks is an ideal trip for wildlife enthusiasts and those new to kayaking.
The Men of Big Basin Father's Day Walk
Santa Cruz Mountains
Celebrate Father’s Day by honoring some of the remarkable men who lived in, worked in and fought for Big Basin. Living history re-enactments will take you back in time where you’ll meet pioneer settlers, Big Basin founders and early park rangers. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this half-mile, 1.5-hour guided walk. If guided walks aren’t your thing, go for a hike! The walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible and starts at the Big Basin Park Headquarters on Sunday, June 21 at 1 p.m.
Maybe dad wants to try skydiving for the first time, or get another jump under his belt. Why not get a panoramic view of the entire Monterey Bay, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and even Half Moon Bay after hurtling yourself out of an airplane while attached to an experienced instructor? Check out Skydive Surfcity, located at the Watsonville Airport, with the best safety record and the most experienced instructors around.
Tour the Redwoods from on High
Santa Cruz Mountains
This Father’s Day, take dad on an epic zip lining Eco-adventure through the redwood canopy of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Redwood Canopy Tours at Mount Hermon offer a two-hour all-inclusive guided zip lining tour for eight that includes six zip lines up to 440 feet long and two sky bridges up to 150 feet high. Each tour is led by two certified guides who share their ecological knowledge of the Santa Cruz redwood forest, bringing it to life.
Steam Train Excursion
For a leisurely Father’s Day, treat dad to a ride through the redwoods on a steam train and then enjoy an old-fashioned Chuck Wagon BBQ platter afterwards. With the purchase of any BBQ platter meal, each father will receive an engineer's cap and one dad will be selected to go on a cab ride in the locomotive. Get advanced tickets for this Roaring Camp Railroads event. Buy your BBQ meal with your steam train ticket and get $2 off at checkout.
Taste Small-Batch Spirits
Treat dad to some extraordinary, locally produced small-batch spirits. Venus Spirits recently opened on the Westside, producing organic small-batch whiskey, gin and blue agave spirits. They build bold flavors with locally sourced, organic ingredients, distilling each batch in a hand pounded Alembic Still. Book a tour and learn how a little bit of ocean air, a touch of precision and some time transforms into the realization of a longtime dream for owner Sean Venus.
BBQ & Blues
Dad loves a good BBQ, so treat him to some of the best around at Aptos St. BBQ. Not only do they have great smoked BBQ, but they also have the most extensive tap list of any BBQ joint in the area. Their Pulled Pork and Hogwash, St. Louis Pork Ribs and Tri-tip all receive rave reviews and they serve 37 craft brews on tap. To top all that, they have live blues from 6-8 p.m. every night. As they warn, their BBQ will sell out, so call or go early!
Santa Cruz Harbor
If dad is looking for a good laugh, check out the Crow’s Nest for Comedy Night. This beachfront, harbor side favorite has been a Santa Cruz destination since 1969. Enjoy the sunset and the sparkling blue waters of Monterey Bay from the Breakwater Bar & Grill while seeing stand-up routines by three talented comics from the national circuit. The show begins at 9 p.m., and the cover is only $7 per person. What a perfectly fun, relaxing way to wind up Father’s Day weekend.