Originally home to the Ohlone people, Watsonville was first explored by Europeans as part of the 1769 Portola expedition and later became part of the colonial province of Las Californias. It lies near the shores of Monterey Bay with its wild beaches and state parks that provide a setting for bird watching, swimming and dune walks.
Things to do in Watsonville
In the heart of Watsonville is the City Plaza, a public green space that hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Coincide your visit with one of the summer evening concerts or attend the annual Strawberry Festival featuring live entertainment, carnival rides and strawberry treats. The plaza also hosts a Friday Farmer’s Market where you can pick up fresh produce and ready-to-eat snacks.
Changing exhibitions and art education programs are held at Pajaro Valley Arts, which was founded in 1984 to promote cultural events in the city. Local and regional artists are represented in its gallery spaces and there’s an on-site store where you can pick up original paintings, ceramics, jewellery and books. Pajaro Valley Arts is a short stroll from the Callaghan Park Cultural Center, which centres around a children’s playground.
A short drive north of Watsonville is Pinto Lake City Park, where you can go boating, fishing and bird watching. If you want to swim, head west to Sunset State Beach, which offers magnificent views across Monterey Bay. It’s backed by sand dunes that provide important nesting habitat for western snowy plovers.
Getting around Watsonville
Watsonville is just over an hour’s drive from San Jose and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, which has flights to destinations across North America. Regular buses connect to Watsonville and travel throughout the city. The Downtown area is compact enough to explore on foot.