The still-popular Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the country's oldest amusement park, operating continuously since 1915. It houses a still-running 1924 wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster and a 1911 Charles I.D. Looff Carousel.
Three Hawaiian princes surfed the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on locally made redwood surfboards in 1885. The account of their visit is one of the first public mentions of Santa Cruz.
"Paddle Out" by Sublime is about surfing in Santa Cruz. The song mentions Natural Bridges, Steamer Lane, Mitchell's Cove and Stockton Avenue.
Much of the 1987 film "The Lost Boys" was filmed on location in Santa Cruz. Many scenes were shot at the Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf and Pogonip club house.
In Quentin Tarantino's 1997 film, "Pulp Fiction," John Travolata's character, Vincent Vega, wears a UC Santa Cruz t-shirt throughout parts of the film. The t-shirt features the iconic banana slug mascot wearing glasses and reading a book, which happens to be Plato. Tarantino also references the city of Santa Cruz in his film "Reservoir Dogs."