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Seacliff State Beach

Seacliff State Beach stretches for nearly a mile along the northern end of Monterey Bay in the town of Aptos, connecting to New Brighton State Beach to the north. People come here to swim, picnic, visit the interpretive center, and fish off the accessible pier. From the pier you can view a historic ship, built of concrete, that lies offshore. The freighter SS Palo Alto was built late in World War I and never saw service. In 1930 the Seacliff Amusement Corporation had it towed to this beach and scuttled offshore, to be converted into an amusement center. The 500-foot pier was built to connect it to the shore, enabling visitors to come aboard, dine at the Fish Palace restaurant, and dance in the Rainbow Ballroom. The company went bankrupt after only two seasons, and the Palo Alto is now closed for safety reasons.

A paved promenade travels the length of the beach, and sea lions and other marine mammals are often seen offshore. At the south end, just before Aptos Creek and Rio Sands Beach, a steep ramp leads to the beach.

Visitor center: The small visitor center, near the pier, has an aquarium, a touch tank with local marine life, a fossil collection, interpretive displays of local birds and weather, and a history of the concrete ship. The entrance has a steep sloped threshold.
State Parks Advisory: Many of California's state parks are reducing hours of operation and limiting access to facilities because of budget cuts. We recommend that you consult State Parks' website and contact the park directly before planning a visit.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Pick up at campground host site; must leave your ID and return wheelchair at sunset. No reservations accepted.

Accessible Parking: Yes

Fee lots are at park entrance atop cliff (steep sidewalk to beach) and at foot of cliff, close to beach. Free parking at corner of Beach Drive and Aptos Beach Drive.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

At various locations throughout park, and at foot of Aptos Beach Drive

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

At south end of visitor center, on hard-packed grass or gravel
View from hilltop parking lot
View from hilltop parking lot (Jean Morrison)

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: California State Parks
Address: 201 State Park Dr., Aptos
Nearest City: Aptos
Phone: (831) 685-6442
Reservations: (800) 444-7275
Hours: Park: 8 am-sunset
Visitor center: Wed.-Sun., 10 am-4 pm
Fees: Parking, Camping
Dogs: On leash
Leash must be 6 feet or less
Public Transportation: Santa Cruz Metro 
Reviewed by Martha Wegner, March 10, 2009
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing