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For many, Santa Cruz embodies the laid-back spirit of coastal California. The city has strong surfing and skateboarding cultures, beautiful beaches and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
There are many options for outdoor recreation in and around Santa Cruz. Rent a kayak and paddle out to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Try to spot sea lions, seals and even whales (during winter and spring) as you paddle along. Hiking enthusiasts will also enjoy the numerous scenic trails at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Wilder Ranch State Park.
No trip to Santa Cruz would be complete without delving into the city’s surfing heritage. Catch a wave at one of the well-known surfing breaks or rent a car and cruise along the scenic West Cliff Drive to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. This museum is located in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse and overlooks the famous Steamer Lane surf break.
Downtown Santa Cruz is known for its eclectic shops, cafés and restaurants and is a short stroll from the beach. Families will love the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This amusement park opened in 1907 and is full of old-world charm. Take a spin on one of its historic rides, such as the wooden Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.
Foodies should check out the Santa Cruz Wharf, home to many seafood restaurants and shops. Wine aficionados will love the Santa Cruz Mountains, where many local wineries have tasting rooms.
You can cover much of Santa Cruz’s main downtown and city attractions on foot, by bike or with the Santa Cruz Metro bus services. If you want to venture farther afield, it’s best to rent a car as the roads near the Santa Cruz Mountains can get very steep.
Situated in the mountains, this romantic hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Valley Gardens Golf Course, Treks and Tracks Rock Climbing Trips, and Canepa Motorsports Museum. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is 2.4 mi (3.9 km) away.
Situated near the boardwalk, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Museum of History & Art at the McPherson Center and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Main Beach and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Situated near the beach, this motel is within a 10-minute walk of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Main Beach. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and Natural Bridges State Park are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Nestled on the beach, this Santa Cruz hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Main Beach and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and Natural Bridges State Park are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Located in the heart of Santa Cruz, this motel is within a 15-minute walk of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Main Beach. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is 1.7 mi (2.7 km) away.
Located in the heart of Santa Cruz, this resort is within a 5-minute walk of Santa Cruz Wharf and Main Beach. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum are also within 15 minutes.
Situated near the bay, this motel is within a 10-minute walk of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center and Main Beach. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Situated by the ocean, this motel is within a 15-minute walk of Rio Del Mar Beach and Seacliff State Beach. Aptos History Museum and Seascape Golf Club are also within 2 mi (3 km).