Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is an easy drive from Santa Cruz’s downtown and beaches. The accessible Redwood Grove Loop Trail brings you quickly into the world of the big trees and bright yellow banana slugs. If you have more time, you can hike one of the longer trails or take a dip in the San Lorenzo River, which flows through the park. There is a swimming hole with rope swings just below the visitor center. Another popular spot with deeper swim holes is the Garden of Eden, about 1 mile towards Santa Cruz on Highway 9 from the Henry Cowell entrance.
Once you’re in Henry Cowell, you can easily walk into Roaring Camp, with its replica of an 1880 logging town and train rides. Simply walk out of the parking lot on the opposite side of the visitor center.
Henry Cowell offers camping as well. Site 78 is hands-down the best, with jaw-dropping views of redwood-covered mountains.