Watsonville is a city of 54,000 people (2019) in Santa Cruz County in California in the Monterey Bay Area.

Understand edit

Climate edit

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches
See Watsonville's 7 day forecast    Data from NOAA (1981-2010)
Metric conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm

Get in edit

By car edit

  •   to  : CA-Hwy 1 connects Santa Cruz (18 mi (29 km) north) to Monterey (27 mi (43 km) south) via Watsonville and Castroville (15 mi (24 km) south). Travelers going towards Salinas can go onto CA-Hwy 183 from Castroville.
  •   from   &   : CA-Hwy 156 & 129 connect Hollister_ (25 mi (40 km), 35 min west) to Watsonville. Likewise one can go south on US Hwy 101 (towards 'Salinas') and than continue west on San Juan Rd to Watsonville.
  •   from   &  : CA-Hwy 152 connects Watsonville (59.5 mi (95.8 km), 1hr 20 min west) from Exit 403A of Interstate 5 via Gilroy (18.5 mi (29.8 km), 35 min east) which is 32 mi (51 km) south of San Jose on US Hwy 101. CA-Hwy 152 comes into town as E Lake Ave.

By bus edit

  • 1 Santa Cruz Metro & Greyhound, Watsonville Transit Center at 475 Rodriguez St (Location of map marker is at customer service office at Rodriguez St & Lake Ave (location of address and map marker).), +1 831 425-8600. Santa Cruz Metro serves as public transportation in Watsonville and to adjacent cities & communities around Santa Cruz County. The following are intercity from Santa Cruz to adjacent cities & communities:.
  • 71 & 91x to Santa Cruz where passengers transfer to the 17- Amtrak Hwy 17 Express to San Jose Diridon Station. Route 71 goes towards Santa Cruz on Soquel Dr & Freedom Blvd while 91x travels on CA-Hwy 1.
  • 72-79F are local bus connections in/around Watsonville. See linked website above.
  • 'Watsonville Circulator (WC)' circles around town in counter clockwise direction between Watsonville Transit Center – Freedom Blvd – Freedom Centre – Green Valley – Main St – Watsonville Transit Center.
  • Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST). MST #28 or 29 go from the Watsonville Transit Center to Salinas where passengers can transfer buses to Monterey, Marina, Carmel, CSUMB, King City, etc. Route 28 goes towards Salinas via Castroville (CA-1 & 183) while 29 travels via Prunedale.

Bus station signed as 'Greyhound' and 'Santa Cruz Metro' but it is only served by Santa Cruz Metro. Passengers will have to travel to Gilroy, Salinas or San Jose to get to an actual Amtrak and Greyhound station/stop.

Get around edit

Downtown is pedestrian friendly. There are some bicycle and pedestrian paths along the creeks, rivers, and sloughs around Watsonville as well and some limited bus service. Taxis are available throughout the area by phone. Watsonville airport also provides small craft access.

See edit

  • Mountains
  • Pajaro River
  • Mount Madonna
  • Auto races at Ocean Speedway.
  • 1 Sunset State Beach, 201 Sunset Beach Rd (16 miles south of Santa Cruz; take Highway 1, exit on San Andreas Road, and follow signs south), +1 831 763-7062, toll-free: +1-800-444-7275 (Reservations). Day use open daily 8AM to 1/2 hour after sunset. Campground open year-round (reservations recommended). The beach features pine trees, mountainous sand dunes, and ocean side picnic spots. Bordered by large agricultural fields west of the city of Watsonville, the beach is a year-round destination for thousands of visitors. If you're day-tripping, plan a stroll along the beach and a picnic (wheelchair-accessible paved picnic area on the north end of the park; wheelchair-accessible restrooms on the south end). There are dangerous rip currents, and the water is cold most of the year. This beach has a glider port for remote-control gliders. Food, lodging and supplies are available nearby. The campground is open year-round. There are 91 camping sites, one bicycle site and one site for large groups. Cost is $35 per night. Campsites in the Dunes and Pine Hollow loops are first-come, first-serve during the winter (Nov 1 to the end of February). $10 parking.    
  • 2 Manresa State Beach, 1445 San Andreas Rd (from Highway 1, south of Aptos, take San Andreas Road southwest and continue for 3 miles to Manresa State Beach; it is the first beach access you will reach on the coast), +1 831-724-3750. Open daily sunrise to sunset, year round.. Manresa State Beach features a beautiful expanse of sea and sand, with surf, fishing, surfing, and recreation. Amenities include: Restrooms, Outdoor shower, Food Dogs are allowed on the beach on leash. Fire rings are available for beach fires. More information: here. $10 day use parking fee.    
  • 3 Pinto Lake County Park, 757 Green Valley Rd (from Highway 1 south, exit onto Airport Boulevard, on Green Valley Road make a left; from Highway 1 north, take the Airport Boulevard exit, turn left onto Airport Blvd to Green Valley Road, go left. You will go past Pinto Lake City Park and will see Pinto Lake County Park; make a left turn into the park), +1 831 454-7956, . Reservation hours are available daily from 10AM to 7PM during summer months. Reservation end time varies according to season. Drop in park use is open daily from dawn to dusk.. A 183-acre regional park, which features a scenic lake with a fishing pier and surrounding nature trails, playground, two family picnic areas, and wheelchair accessible restrooms. Turtle Dove, a public art project by artist Roberto Castro and youth from the JTPA program, can be found at the park; trail markers highlight the wildlife which can be viewed along the nature trail. Soccer fields and two pavilions with BBQs are available for rent. There is also a small baseball field. See the location where locals believe the Virgin Mary appeared. A disc golf course is the newest attraction to Pinto Lake Park. Reservable picnic areas: Reservable Picnic Areas Pavillions A and B are perfect outdoor locations for family and company picnics. Available by reservation only. They offer privacy for your group and a comfortable, scenic oasis for your enjoyment. Capacity is 100. 1 Large Barbecue and picnic tables are included. Pavillion A is the first covered picnic area upon entering the park. It is closest to the playground and near public restrooms. Pavillion B is the second covered picnic area located at the far end of the park. Public restrooms are nearby. It offers privacy for your group. Reservations can be made up to one year in advance. Walk-in reservations can be made at the Simpkins Family Swim Center at 979 17th Avenue, Santa Cruz. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9AM- 4PM. Please allow one month before event date for phone reservations, and 3 days for walk-in. Cash, check or Visa/Mastercard accepted.
  • 4 Pinto Lake Park, 451 Green Valley Rd (traveling north on Hwy 1 from Monterey: take Green Valley Road exit and follow for 3 miles; traveling south on Hwy 1 from Santa Cruz: take Hwy 152 Watsonville/Gilroy exit, then immediately left onto Green Valley Rd and travel 2.6 miles inland), +1 831 722-8129, . Pinto Lake City Park is owned by the City of Watsonville and offers RV camping. Amenities: back-in sites 50' x 15' on grass, electricity (30 amp), city water, sewer, Wi-fi (strong, reliable signal), locked gate at night (you get a key.) Fire rings allowed in picnic area adjacent to campground showers, laundry. Rates: two adults in one RV or trailer: $35, one tow vehicle: free, children 16 and under: free, extra adults: $2 each, dogs: $2 each, extra vehicles: $2 each
  • Wetlands of Watsonville, 30 Harkins Slough Rd, +1 831-515-8306. The City of Watsonville's nature trails provide easy public access to this 800 acre freshwater wetland. More than 6 miles of paved trails and 29 trail entrances in Watsonville neighborhoods offer new opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of our special wetlands for recreation and relaxation. The Wetlands of Watsonville Nature Center offers trail maps and other information about the animals and habitats of the area. City wetland trails are free to use and open every day in every season. Joggers, hikers, cyclists and birders are welcome to access any of the trails. Several trails are wheelchair accessible; please see trail maps for appropriate entrances. Recommended Trail Walks & Entrances Watsonville Slough Trail Trail Head: Park at the Wetlands of Watsonville Nature Center – 30 Harkins Slough Road. Trail map available outside Nature Center. Trail entrance behind center. Approximate walk: 1.5 miles Ohlone Loop Trail Trail Head: Park in the back of the West Marine parking lot by trail head – 500 Westridge Drive, Watsonville, CA. Approximate walk: 1.5 miles Upper Struve Slough Trail Trail Head: Park in Body Zone parking lot by trail head – 1810 Main Street. Approximate walk: 1.5 miles Nearby Areas: Food and shopping center on Main Street.

Do edit

  • 1 Mount Madonna County Park. This park offers hiking, camping, archery, and equestrian trails.  
  • 2 Henry J. Mello Center for Performing Arts, 250 East Beach St (from Highway 1, take the CA-152 E/Main Street exit toward Watsonville/Gilroy; turn left on East Beach Street), +1 831 763-4047, . This premier concert performance hall boasts the best acoustics in the county.
  • 3 Annieglass, 310 Harvest Dr, +1 831 761-2041, . Daily 11AM - 5PM. Glass artist Annie Morhauser developed her own "slumping" process in the 1980s that marked the beginning of Annieglass. A graduate of the California College of the Arts, she trained in a range of glass techniques, but Annieglass's original tour de force was a piece called "Roman Antique," a plate of thick glass with a widely painted rim of pure gold. She took it to a trade show in 1983 and astounded the country's leading retailers with this entirely new look in dinnerware—today, "Roman Antique" is an oft-imitated industry icon that is sold at luxury retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Barney's New York, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales; has been used at leading hotels and restaurants such as the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, the Four Seasons, the Ritz Carlton, and the Waldorf Astoria; and has been featured in the private collections of contemporary luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Christina Aguilera and John Grisham. In 2006 the Smithsonian American Art Museum honored Annieglass by selecting two sculptural pieces ("Tiburon" and "Coquina" from the Shell series) as part of its permanent collection. Free tours available at this retail location.
  • 4 Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds & Event Center, 2601 E Lake Ave (from Highway 1, take Airport Blvd to East Lake Blvd; turn left on East Lake and the fairgrounds will be on your left-hand side), +1 831 724-5671. Home of the Santa Cruz County Fair held each September and the races at the Ocean Speedway, Agricultural History Project and Museum and the historic Rogers House.    
  • 5 Agricultural History Project, 2601 East Lake Ave (from Highway 1, take the Airport Blvd exit to East Lake Blvd; turn left on East Lake and the museum will be on your left at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds), +1 831 724-5898, . Open 2nd Saturday of each month, 11AM - 3PM, or call to visit by appt only. Located at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, this museum showcases exhibits, and equipment representing history of agriculture on the Central Coast. One the 2nd Saturday the Farm features a different and fun activity for children. See website for details or call to visit by appointment. Free admission; $2 donation suggested.
  • 6 Gizdich Ranch, 55 Peckham Rd, +1 831 722-1056. Daily 9AM - 5PM. You-pick farm features on-site bakery, gift shop and antiques. "Pik-Yor-Self" strawberries, olallieberries, boysenberries, and apples are available seasonally. Berry and apple pie by the slice or whole, fresh juices, jams and honey are all available in this country-setting. Admission-free; fee for picking fruit..
  • 7 Pajaro Valley Arts Council, 37 Sudden St (from Highway 1 South, take the 152 E/Main St toward Watsonville/Gilroy; turn left on Freedom Blvd; turn right on Sudden Street), +1 831 722-3062. Wednesday - Sunday 11AM - 4PM. A non-profit fine art gallery located in a 114-year-old historic Victorian. PVAC presents rotating contemporary visual art exhibitions showcasing the diversity and talent of regional artists. Free admission; donation appreciated..
  • Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival at Monterey Bay, Downtown Watsonville, +1 831 768-3240. 10AM - 7PM. This multi-faceted celebration will serve up a menu of strawberry delights, non-stop entertainment, gooey contests & more. Free admission.
  • Monterey Bay Birding Festival, 275 Main St, toll-free: +1-888-909-7829. 6AM - 9PM - various days, times and locations. The annual Monterey Bay Birding Festival takes place in one of the most spectacular birding and wildlife venues in North America. Few places can match the diversity of species as the Monterey Bay region. This event is held each September, Thursday - Sunday at various locations and times. See website for more details. See website for more information..

Buy edit

  • Target, 1415 Main St.

Eat edit

The city imposes a 10¢ fee on all disposable cups – even for a cup of water, which would otherwise be free. You can bring your own water bottle, cup, or coffee mug to restaurants to avoid paying this fee.

  • Miyuki Sushi, 452 E Lake Ave.
  • Red Apple Cafe, 589 Auto Center Dr.
  • Strawberry Patch Cafe, 734 E Lake Ave, +1 831-722-0480. Breakfast and sandwiches and desserts.
  • Cassidy's Pizza, 1400 Freedom Blvd.
  • Cilantros Mexican, 1934 Main St.
  • Real Colima 2, 1101 E Lake Ave.
  • El Patio Grocery Deli, 312 Playa Blvd.
  • 1 California Grill of the Pajaro Valley, 1970 Freedom Blvd, +1 831 722-8052. M-Th 7AM - 8:30PM, F Sa 7AM - 9PM, Su 7AM - 8PM.

Drink edit

  • The Villager, 1032 E Lake Ave.
  • The Wooden Nickel, 1819 Freedom Blvd.
  • Fruition Brewing, 918 E Lake Ave.

Sleep edit

Hotels edit

Camping edit

  • KOA Campgrounds, 1186 San Andreas Rd, +1 831 722-0551.
  • Pinto Lake RV Camping, 451 Green Valley Rd, +1 831 722-8129.
  • 3 Manresa State Beach - Uplands Campground, 205 Manresa Uplands Rd (from Highway 1, south of Aptos, take San Andreas Road southwest and continue for four miles; turn right on Sand Dollar Road; veer left to Manresa Uplands Campground), +1 831 761-1795, toll-free: +1-800-444-7275 (Reservations). Day use open daily 8AM - 1/2 hour after sunset. Campground open May 15 - Oct 31. Manresa Uplands Campground provides dramatic views of the ocean from the bluffs above the beach. This beautiful expanse of sea and sand offers surf fishing, surfing and other beach recreation. The walk-in, tent-only campground is open March through November. There are 64 sites. Cost is $35 per night. Equipment may be dropped off from 10-200 yards from campsite. Amenities include: 64 walk-in, tent-only campsites, restrooms, and showers (camping showers are 25 cents; bring quarters.) Food, lodging, and supplies are available nearby. More information: here. $35 per night for camping..
  • Mount Madonna Campgrounds and Yurts, 7850 Pole Line Rd, +1 408 355-2201.

Go next edit

  • Moss Landing - 9 miles south of Watsonville, this tiny town is often overlooked but offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities at Elkhorn Slough, one of the largest saltwater estuaries in California and a great place to spot sea otters. The harbor is also the departure point for several whale watching companies. Amenities for travelers are limited, although there are several restaurants in the harbor area.
Routes through Watsonville
Santa CruzAptos  N   S  Moss LandingMonterey
END  W   E  GilroyLos Banos

This city travel guide to Watsonville is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.