Introduction to Watsonville, California

Watsonville, California, in Santa Cruz county, is 15 miles E of Santa Cruz, California (center to center) and 30 miles S of San Jose, California. The city is situated in the Pajaro Valley. Watsonville is a major agriculture and food processing area. The municipality is surrounded by agricultural land. Strawberries, apples, raspberries, lettuce, artichokes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, blackberries, mushrooms and cut flowers are some of the primary crops. The Eastern Highlands are utilized for cattle grazing, timber production and includes vineyards and orchards.

Watsonville is home to the headquarters of Driscoll's Strawberries, West Marine, Sweet Darling Strawberries and Martinelli's, a prominent producer of sparkling apple cider. Light industry, manufacturing and the service industries are factors for the economy. The majority of the coast land bordering Watsonville is included in the Monterey Bay Sanctuary. The Santa Cruz Mountains can be seen from parts of the city.

Watsonville features cool winters and mild summers. Fog and low overcast are typical occurrences during the night and morning, particularly during the summer. The city has a very large Hispanic population and a sizeable Asian-American community. 

Watsonville History

The Costanoans were the original inhabitants. By 1847 there were a large number of cattle ranches. The city was incorporated in 1868. The municipality was named in tribute to Judge John Watson. It began to thrive after the railroad connected Watsonville with Santa Clara Valley in 1871. Watsonville is located near the epicenter of the powerful 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake which destroyed and damaged numerous building situated downtown. The earthquake caused a lot of destruction all over the region.

Watsonville Attractions

  • The Henry J. Mello Performing Arts Center features a variety of musical productions, dramas and other events.
  • Santa Cruz County Symphony.
  • Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival features entertainment, crafts and strawberry treats.
  • Pajaro Valley Arts Council.
  • Santa Cruz County Fair features music, arts and crafts and entertainment for kids.
  • California Pajarosa.
  • Agricultural History Museum.
  • Watsonville Fly-In & Air Show is a popular event and features antique airplanes, military planes and helicopters.
  • Watsonville Speedway.
  • Pajaro Valley Historical Association.
  • Birding Festival.

Watsonville Activities

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Manresa State, Sunset, Moss Landing State and Zmudowski State beaches are popular destinations. The Wetlands Nature Center is a noteworthy location. Mount Madonna County Park is enjoyed by residents and tourists. Visitors enjoy the local wineries including Alfaro Family Vineyard and Winery, Natal Vineyards and River Run Vintners. Golf enthusiasts enjoy playing at the nearby Springs Hills Golf Course. Families have fun at the close by Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk.

Watsonville Higher Education

The city is served by the nearby University of California at Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College and California State University at Monterey Bay.


Total Population 52,543
Male Share of the Population 50.6%
Female Share of the Population 49.4%
Senior Citizens 9.3%
Employed Population 16+ 22,271
Age of the Population 30


% of people married 45.7%
Average household size 4

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 10%
Median Earnings25+ $23,708
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $19,088
Median Earnings With High School Degree $22,104


Median Family Income $47,604
% Above Poverty Level 80.3%
% Below Poverty Level 19.7%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 23 minutes
% Working from Home 2.4%
% Walking and Biking to Work 3.7%
% Using Public Transportation 2.3%


People Living Alone 17.5%
Median Gross Rent $1,250
Median House Value $337,000


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 81.6%
US/American 0%
English 2.8%
Irish 2.6%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Watsonville Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 15 miles E of Santa Cruz, California (center to center)
Nearest Large City 30 miles S of San Jose, California
County Santa Cruz
Standard Zip Codes 95076
P.O. Box Zip Codes 95077
Phone Area Codes 831
Time Zone Pacific (-8 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 36.91
Longitude -121.755

Watsonville Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 1.7 miles
Jan Temp 39 to 61 F
Apr Temp 45 to 68 F
Jul Temp 53 to 72 F
Oct Temp 48 to 72 F
Annual Precip 23.2 inches
Station GILROY
Distance 12.2 miles
Jan Temp 39 to 60 F
Apr Temp 47 to 73 F
Jul Temp 56 to 88 F
Oct Temp 50 to 79 F
Annual Precip 20.6 inches
Distance 19.2 miles
Jan Temp 38 to 61 F
Apr Temp 43 to 71 F
Jul Temp 52 to 81 F
Oct Temp 47 to 78 F
Annual Precip 13.6 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, Watsonville, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

La Selva Beach (95076)

Royal Oaks (95076)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Capitola 10,077 $73,610
Gilroy 51,649 $89,266
Marina 20,537 $61,725
San Juan Bautista 2,250 $63,500
Santa Cruz 62,752 $88,738
Scotts Valley 11,780 $113,546

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Watsonville Public Libraries

Watsonville Public Library
Watsonville, California
(831) 728-6040
Library Web Site

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More Information for Librarians

Watsonville Hospitals

(831) 724-4741
Emergency Service: Yes

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Watsonville High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

250 E. BEACH ST.
Serves 3,081 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 22.2

A Charter School.
Serves 179 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 23.9

A Non-traditional School
A Charter School.
Serves 74 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 14.8

A Non-traditional School
Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 50 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 55.6

Watsonville Colleges

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