Mystery Spot

Visiting the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot
••• Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. Moment Editorial/Getty Images / Getty Images

According to the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot website, it's "a gravitational anomaly" discovered by surveyors in 1939 opened to the public in 1940. Tour guides claim that gravity and the laws of physics go haywire at the Mystery Spot and they speculate about what might be buried underground. While touring the Mystery Spot, you'll think your mind is playing tricks on you. Compasses go crazy, and balls roll uphill, people's height seems to change suddenly, and it's common for visitors to get a headache from all of it.

In reality, what you see at the Mystery Spot is more related to optical illusion and location (where no reference points can be seen). Sandlot Science offers a good explanation of how they're created. Nevertheless, the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot is very popular. It's fun to suspend disbelief and join in the fun - or to try to keep your wits about you and figure out how it all works.

What People Think of the Mystery Spot

Tripadvisor ranks the Mystery Spot high on their list of things to do in Santa Cruz. People can't seem to get enough of taking wacky pictures of their friends appearing to walk on the walls or floating in mid air. They also praise the tour guides saying "The guides are fantastic and fun to be with. They give everyone plenty of time to take pictures too!"  Most reviews also say waiting for their tour goes by fast because they took a short hike on the nearby trail or grabbed a bite to eat at the Snack Shack to pass the time.

Mystery Spot Tips

  • On busy days, the Mystery Spot sometimes stops letting people in. Go early in the day or call 831-423-8897 to buy tickets which will guarantee you entrance.
  • Bring cash to pay for your Mystery Spot tickets (check prices) or be prepared to pay a $2 transaction fee to use your debit card. All major credit cards are accepted, but only for online or phone purchases.
  • Bring more cash to pay for parking, which is not included in the admission price.
  • If you have a larger vehicle, call ahead so they can be sure to find a spot for you.
  • Arrive 30 minutes before your tour time, or you might get left behind.
  • Bring your lunch with you and enjoy the picnic and garden area before or after your tour. There is food available for purchase at the Snack Shack as well
  • Pets are allowed in the parking lot but not inside the attraction gate. Leave them home or bring someone along who doesn't mind staying behind to keep them company.
  • The kids will have to walk or be carried. Strollers are not allowed.
  • Wheelchairs are accommodated, but you'll need an assistant or two to help with steep hills.
  • Mystery Spot bumper stickers are so common in the Bay Area that some new arrivals think they should have one just to fit in. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the address below, and they'll send you one for free.

Mystery Spot Review

We rate Mystery Spot 3 stars out of 5 for pure, old-fashioned kitschiness.

What You Need to Know About the Mystery Spot

Open daily, with longer hours on weekends.  Reservations are highly recommended on busy days. Moderate admission fee, kids 3 years old or younger get in free.


Allow a little more than an hour for the experience, to get there ahead of time and take the 45-minute guided tour. The best time to visit the Mystery Spot is in the morning on busy days - or during the week.

Where is the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot?

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot
465 Mystery Spot Road
Santa Cruz, CA
Mystery Spot website

The Mystery Spot is located between Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, east of CA Hwy 17. Get directions on their website.

If You Liked the Mystery Spot, You May Also Like

T​he Mystery Shack in Calico Ghost Town east of Barstow is a similar attraction. In San Jose, the ​Winchester Mystery House also appeals to people who like odd things.