New Brighton Beach Activities

Santa Cruz County

Nearby Activities and Events

World's Shortest Parade

The town of Aptos' annual 4th of July Parade is billed as the World's Shortest Parade, just 0.6 miles long.

Despite its diminutive course, the parade is a two hour celebration of our nation's birthday that will delight spectators of all ages. Other events that day include a pancake breakfast and a party in the Aptos Village Park after the parade. Parade starts at 10:00 AM.

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Over 30 miles of trails through redwood forests, along shaded creeks, and up coastal mountains. Picnic areas, back country trail camping. Located 4 miles north of Aptos on Aptos Creek Road.
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Epicenter Cycling
Bike Rentals

8035 Soquel Dr., #23
Aptos, CA
(831) 662-8100
Ride from their shop into Nisene Marks Park or around the area.
Mountain bikes and cruisers for as little as $15 for 2 hours.
Epicenter Cycling

Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5K

Race on roads and trails in the redwood forest of Nisene Marks State Park, only a few miles from Seacliff Beach. Run in the morning, relax on the beach the rest of the day. Usually held first Saturday in June.
Nisene Marks Marathon

Annual Sandman Triathlon, Duathlon, & Kids' Fun Run

Triathlon features a .75-mile swim around the cement ship at Seacliff Beach, 13-mile bike race around Aptos, Seascape, and Rio Del Mar, and a 4-mile beach run. Duathlon includes bike and run. One mile Fun Run for youths under 18. Usually held in late July.
Sandman Triathlon

Shore Birds

New Brighton Beach Activities

Visitor Center

New Brighton Beach's Pacific Migrations Visitor Center is located near the campgrounds on the bluff above the beach. Displays there tell the story of Pacific wildlife and human migrations. It also includes a park store.
Open seasonally, closed in winter.
(831) 464-5620 or (831) 685-6444
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.

New Brighton to Seacliff Beach Trail

The 3-mile long round trip trail is actually a stroll along the beach in a southeasterly direction to Seacliff State Beach. Along the bluffs between New Brighton and Seacliff are fossils from the Pliocene era when New Brighton and Seacliff were under 60 feet of water. Just a mere two and half to five million years ago. The fossils are protected by law and should not be disturbed. At Seacliff Beach you will find restrooms, picnic areas, and a snack shop.

view south from New Brighton Beach toward Seacliff Beach, Santa Cruz County, CA

Interpretive Programs

Docent-led fossil, history and beach walks are offered in the summer. Also there are children's arts and crafts activities that highlight the New Brighton story. School field trip activities are provided free of charge year round (831-685-6444). Sing-alongs and magic shows are sometimes held in the evenings at the campfire circle.
Keep up with events at New Brighton Beach with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.

Junior Ranger Program, Ages 7-12

Play games, hike trails, create your own animal, discover tracks, observe wildlife, all while making friends your own age in some of the best places in California!

Junior Ranger Program for children ages 7 - 12 covers topics such as geology, ecology, history, safety, plants, and wildlife. The Program can take place over several days, or you can start at one park, and then at another time go to a different park. Children should plan to spend about an hour at each activity.

The Junior Ranger Program is offered free of charge to visitors who have already paid park entrance or camping fees.
California State Parks Junior Ranger Program

Monarch Butterflies

In order to escape the cold in the northern United States and Canada, monarch butterflies migrate every year to the milder climates to the south. The Santa Cruz area is a popular winter stop for the butterflies. Many of the monarchs cluster in the eucalyptus and pine trees at New Brighton State Beach, finding both shelter and sustenance. Butterflies begin to arrive in mid-October and stay through mid-February.

The best place to find the monarch butterlfies at New Brighton State Beach is in the eucalyptus grove along the western side of the park near the railroad tracks.

The Porter - Sesnon Property

The Porter - Sesnon property is an undeveloped parcel of state owned property east of New Brighton State Park. It was rescued from efforts to build a conference center there in the early 1990s. To reach this area take McGregor Road and turn onto New Brighton Road. Find parking before you cross the railroad tracks and then follow the tracks to the east for several hundred yards. Watch for a trail that makes a circuit through the Porter-Sesnon parcel and out onto the bluff overlooking the ocean.

You can also reach the property by following roads out the east side of New Brighton State Park campground.

New Brighton Beach, Santa Cruz County, CA

Swimming at New Brighton State Beach

New Brighton State Beach is sheltered from most of the heavy surf that reaches the Santa Cruz coast, making it a popular spot for enjoying the waves. Boogie boarding, skim boarding, and similar sport are popular here. It is also a good place from which to launch kayaks for a paddle up the coast to Capitola Beach.
Monterey Bay Area Water Temperatures
Santa Cruz County Water Quality Reports

New Brighton Beach, Santa Cruz County, CA


Monterey pines and Monterey cypress in campgrounds attract a number of birds which nest and forage there. Among the birds you are apt to see are band-tailed pigeons, Stellerís jays, and chestnut backed chickadees. Santa Cruz Bird Club's Guide to New Brighton Beach

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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