by Dhruvalakshmi Paithankar Updated on 02 Nov 2018
Watsonville is a city located in Santa Cruz County in the state of California. You can enjoy pies at Gizdich Ranch or visit places like the Sunset State Beach, Ramsay Park, River Park and Franich Park. You can also visit different events at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and Events Center or learn agricultural history at Agricultural History Project Center and Museum. You can take part in fishing at Pinto Lake or walk along its trails. You can taste the local beer at Elkhorn Slough Brewing and Corralitos Brewing Company. You can witness different wildlife habitat at the Wetlands of Watsonville.
Let's explore the best things to do in Watsonville:
1. Spend some time at Gizdich Ranch
Gizdich Ranch is a family ranch where you can go picking up seasonal fruits from trees or vines or can enjoy a picnic with your loved ones. The ranch also offers gift baskets along with farm fresh fruits like apples, berries.
You can also purchase fruit juices and different varieties of pies. They also serve popsicles, ice-cream, slush, sandwiches, cookies etc. The ranch also houses a gift and an antique store where you can find different products for gift purpose or you can select them as a part of your personal collection.
2. Enjoy different activities at Sunset State Beach
Sunset State Beach is one of the popular tourist attractions in Watsonville where you can take part in different outdoor activities. This beach houses 90 shaded dune protected sites that accommodate recreational vehicles of up to 31 feet in length.
You can also enjoy fishing at Monterey Bay and you might get a chance to catch fishes like surf perch, sardines, striped bass. Apart from camping and fishing, you can enjoy a relaxing picnic with your loved ones. The beach also houses a glider port.
3. Explore the collection at Pajaro Valley Arts
Pajaro Valley Arts is an art gallery where you can explore different artworks of local artists. The gallery at Pajaro Valley Arts houses rotating exhibits ranging from paintings to ceramics to jewelry to greetings cards, to books. This art gallery also hosts various programs like arts education programs, workshops etc. You can buy different items from the gallery store as a gift or for your personal collection.
4. Explore the history at Agricultural History Project Center and Museum
One of the interesting places to visit in Watsonville is Agricultural History Project Center and Museum, located at the entrance of Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. You can learn many interesting facts about the agricultural history of the Central Coast.
You will find a variety of exhibits depicting the flourishing apple industry, food preservation methods along with artifacts like fruit jar and milk bottles. You will find many agriculture-related books and photos. The collection of this museum also includes restored horse-drawn equipment like plows, reapers, planters, hand tools.
5. Enjoy an event at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and Events Center
One of the highly entertaining things to do in Watsonville is enjoying an event at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. This fairground covers an area of about 105 acres of land. You can enjoy different events like trade shows, home shows, RV shows and sales, Horse shows, Equestrian events, weddings, concerts and festivals and many more throughout the year.
The Santa Cruz Event center also offers many indoor facilities (available on rent) like J.J Crosetti Building with kitchen (to host trade shows, holiday crafts fair), Fine Arts Building (for hosting family gatherings, business meetings or training classes), Harvest Building with Kitchen (for fundraising dinners), Heritage Hall (for business meeting, family gatherings), and the Historic Rodgers House.
The Historic Rodgers House currently archives the artifacts and photographs related to the history of Rodgers Family as well as that of Pajaro Valley.
6. Have some fun at Franich Park
Covering an area of about 14.02 acres of land, Franich Park houses a trail, baseball fields, basketball and volleyball courts, picnic tables, playgrounds, and barbeques. This is an ideal place to hang-out with friends and family with whom you can enjoy picnic, barbeques or different casual sports. The kids can have a great time at the playgrounds.
7. Visit Mount Madonna Retreat Center
Mount Madonna Retreat Center is a private, not for profit, personal retreat center and a popular tourist attraction in Watsonville that offers a tranquil environment and hosts programs involving meditation, yoga, spirituality, and education. This center also houses Mount Madonna School, Mount Madonna Institute, Ocean View Books and Gifts, Ayurveda World, Kaya Kalpa Wellness Center and Hanuman Temple.
In order to maintain a balance between the number of daily visitors and space, they can provide to accommodate the visitors, a system of reservation has been introduced which is applicable for Hanuman Temple as well on weekends.
8. Experience the local beer at Elkhorn Slough Brewing
You can enjoy tasting the locally made beer at Elkhorn Slough Brewing. Their taproom offers a great selection of beer and you can enjoy their great taste. The beer is stored in barrels and then sometimes it is mixed with local ingredients to derive a unique tasted beer. They serve fresh ales like Pajaro Gold, Hop Improv, Tractor Race etc and wild ales like Mothership, Jewel, BloomField etc.
9. Walk along the Watsonville Slough Trail
Watsonville Slough Trail is a 2.8 miles long trail that runs along the Watsonville Slough. The path along the trail is a home to different birds and you can witness ducks, cormorants, pelicans, herons, egrets, hawks and many other birds as you explore through the trail. The trail is ideal for walking and biking and can be accessed by wheelchair. The trail ends at the entrance of Ramsay Park.
10. Enjoy family time at Ramsay Park
Ramsay Park is a point of interest at Watsonville where you can enjoy various recreational activities with your friends and family. This park covers an area of about 25.91 acres of land and houses various facilities like Community Center, Skate Park, Soccer Field, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, playground, picnic tables and barbeques.
You can spend some relaxing family time enjoying a picnic or different casual sports like soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, tennis etc. You can also relax and enjoy the nature while watching your kids having fun at the playground.
11. Relax at River Park
River Park covers an area of about 1.43 acres of land where you can enjoy a picnic with your loved ones or engage in casual sports like basketball or watch your kids play at the children's play area. The park houses facilities like picnic tables and barbeques and amenities like restrooms. The picnic area at this park is also available on rent to host different private events.
12. Biking along Ohlone Trail
Ohlone Loop Trail is a 3-mile long loop trail that offers the visitors to witness the beautiful wildlife habitat at Struve Slough. You can witness birds like falcons, hawks, ducks, waterfowl, and raptors. This trail is ideal for biking and walking.
13. Enjoy some handcrafted ales at Corralitos Brewing Company
Corralitos Brewing Company is a point of interest in Watsonville where you can taste different handcrafted beers. The beer joint might be small but you will be impressed with the quality of local beer they serve. Some of the popular beers are the Oatmeal Stout, Carrizo and Whiskey Hills. You can either sit inside or outside on the porch and enjoy your beer.
14. Enjoy camping at Pinto Lake & RV Park
Pinto Lake and RV Park cover 78 acres of land where the park covers about 8 acres of land and remaining area constitutes the lake. The park houses picnic areas, baseball fields, volleyball court and also an RV park. You can enjoy fishing or boating in the lake.
In case you carry your own boat, raft, kayak or canoe, you might have to pay boat launch fees. In order to enjoy camping, you might want to make an advance reservation in the RV Park. Depending on the time of your visit you might find this place to be crowded.
15. Enjoy watching wildlife at Wetlands of Watsonville
One of the interesting places to visit in Watsonville is the Wetlands of Watsonville that covers almost 800 acres of wetland and is one of the largest remaining freshwater marshes on Central Coast of California. The Wetlands are a system of some freshwater sloughs and you can witness different birds and animals in Wetlands. The resident birds of Wetlands are Herons, Egrets as well as the American Bittern. During winter, you can witness waterfowls like Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead and Northern Shovelers. The migratory birds that are found here include Cinnamon Teal and the Barn Swallow.
The Wetlands is also home to the Red-legged frog, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey and Golden Eagle. Guided tours are available at Nature Center that will help you explore the Wetlands trail and understand how to protect and preserve the wildlife at Wetlands.