New Brighton State Beach
Latest NewsThe Visitor Center and ParkStore are closed for the winter. • A portion of the day-use parking lot is closed indefinitely due to a sinkhole.
New Brighton State Beach is one of the most-popular and most-visited state beaches in California. This 93-acre park along the beautiful coast of Santa Cruz offers spectacular views of the Monterey Bay. It is known for for its family-oriented campground, which sits on the towering bluffs high above the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful, lush vegetation of towering pine trees, Monterey cypress, oak, eucalyptus trees and wild berry vines surround campers with a peaceful tranquility. Once the site of a Chinese fishing village, it now offers locals and visitors a haven from the hectic pace of city life.
The beach is in the town of Capitola, just south of Santa Cruz. Take the New Brighton/Park Avenue exit off Highway 1 1, turn right at bottom of ramp, and left at first stop sign. Follow the road to park gate.
Things to doBeach Area
Visitors enjoy swimming, boogie boarding, stand up paddle boarding and, in the winter, surfing.Picnic Areas
A large group picnic area in the campground area can be reserved for special events.Visitor Center
Learn about the natural and cultural history of the area in the Pacific Migrations Visitor Center, located near the campground and open seasonally.Interpretive Programs
Campfire and Junior Ranger programs are offered at New Brighton during the summer. These programs are free.Bonfires
Beach fires are allowed in park-provided fire rings.
See, explore and experience the stories of people, settlers and cultures that are a part of this region’s rich history. The Pacific Migrations Visitor Center explores the many Pacific Rim migrations, both by people and by creatures of the air and sea. For more information, please call (831) 464-5620 or (831) 685-6444. Open Thursday-Sunday in the spring; Wednesday-Sunday through the summer; and Friday-Sunday in the fall. Closed Nov. 21 to end of February.
The ParkStore offers local art depicting the unique coastline, books on cultural and natural history, educational toys, distinct apparel and souvenirs. It is located inside the Pacific Migrations Visitor Center, near the campground.
Fees and Passes
Parking is $10 and supports the park. Annual State Parks passes also are available to purchase at the entrance kiosk.
- Picnicking (with group sites)
- RV sanitation station
- Sand wheelchairs available — learn more in the Hilltromper Beach Accessibility Guide.
There are 109 camp sites of varying size and services available: 97 standard sites, nine tent-only sites for hikers and cyclists, and three group sites. Maximum trailer, motorhome and camper length is 36 feet. Call 800-444-7275 or go online to make a reservation.
The back loop of the campground is closed from Nov. 1 to the end of February.
Field TripsSchool programs are offered by appointment. Call 831-685-6444 or go here for more.
New Brighton, once known as China Beach, was the site of a Chinese fishing village during the 1870s and 1880s. The village inhabitants proved invaluable in the building of the California railroad, and provided Santa Cruz with fish, produce, laundries, chefs and laborers. Other settlers took over the village from the Chinese, who moved to Monterey. Commercial fishing slowed after dragnet fishing was outlawed in 1915.
During the late 1870s, Thomas Fallon began development of a small resort east of China Beach. Fallon was an immigrant from Ireland and a former mayor of San Jose. He named his campground Camp San Jose in the hopes of attracting tourists from San Jose. However, the name did not do as he had hoped and in 1882 Fallon renamed the campground New Brighton. New Brighton became a State Beach in 1933.
- Dogs are allowed on leashes no longer than 6 feet.
- Alcohol is not allowed on the beach or in day-use areas.
- A fishing license is required.
- Fires are not permitted on the beach.
- Climbing the unstable sandstone cliffs is prohibited.
- All park natural and cultural features are protected by law and may not be removed or disturbed.
- Do not feed or leave food out for wildlife.
- Fires must be confined to fire rings provided in the campground and attended at all times.
- The speed limit is 15 mph. Vehicles must park on pavement and not on gravel or dirt walkways.