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Santa Cruz, CA
Travel Guide

Santa Cruz featuring rugged coastline, general coastal views and a beach

This Californian city attracts visitors looking for sun and sand, and has one of the strongest surfing cultures in the country.

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.

Where to stay in Santa Cruz

Hyatt Place Santa Cruz
Hyatt Place Santa Cruz
3 out of 5
407 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is $215 per night from Jun 22 to Jun 22
Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Ocean Street and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Monterey Bay is 1.4 mi (2.2 km) away.
4.4/5Excellent! (970 reviews)
"Friendly staff. Clean"

Reviewed on Jun 13, 2021

Hyatt Place Santa Cruz
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
4 out of 5
175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is $459 per night from Jun 30 to Jun 30
Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this beachfront resort is in the city center and within a 5-minute walk of Santa Cruz Main Beach and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. ...
4.6/5Wonderful! (974 reviews)
"What a great place to stay! Friendly and helpful staff, plus a great location, made for a wonderful getaway! The view was amazing—we loved listening to the waves and the sea lions at the nearby wharf."

Reviewed on Jun 12, 2021

Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Chaminade Resort & Spa
Chaminade Resort & Spa
4 out of 5
1 Chaminade Ln, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is $339 per night from Jul 1 to Jul 1
Situated in the mountains, this spa resort is within 6 mi (10 km) of Capitola Mercantile, Mystery Spot, and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Santa Cruz Wharf and ...
3.8/5Good! (661 reviews)
"Place was very nice but will be happy when they have room service again."

Reviewed on Jun 11, 2021

Chaminade Resort & Spa
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Jayes Timberlane Resort
Jayes Timberlane Resort
3.5 out of 5
8705 Highway 9, Ben Lomond, CA
The price is $145 per night from Jul 12 to Jul 12
Situated in Ben Lomond, this vacation home is 2.5 mi (4 km) from Felton Covered Bridge Park and 2.8 mi (4.6 km) from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Roaring ...
4/5Very Good! (164 reviews)
"It was an excellent stay, management very helpful and beautiful area."

Reviewed on Jun 11, 2021

Jayes Timberlane Resort
Fern River Resort
Fern River Resort
3 out of 5
5250 Highway 9, Felton, CA
The price is $213 per night from Jul 12 to Jul 12
Nestled on the beach, this Felton cabin is within 1 mi (2 km) of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Roaring Camp Railroads. Felton Covered Bridge Park is 1.5 ...
4.4/5Wonderful! (201 reviews)
"Very quiet and the access to the river was amazing!... everything included! And the price was perfect!"

Reviewed on Apr 17, 2021

Fern River Resort
Iconic Oceanfront Venetian Court, Located in the Heart of Capitola Village!
Iconic Oceanfront Venetian Court, Located in the Heart of Capitola Village!
Capitola, CA
Situated in Capitola, this apartment building is steps from Capitola Wharf and Capitola Beach. Monterey Bay is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) away.
4.9/5Exceptional! (15 reviews)
Great for quick retreat and kids under 5
"My favorite part of this trip was the ease of being at the beach with a young child and not have to worry about lugging around beach gear, snacks or having to find a bathroom. Everything is literally at your fingertips or super accessible. The unit itself was nicely decorated, very clean with a great ..."

Reviewed on Apr 30, 2021

Iconic Oceanfront Venetian Court, Located in the Heart of Capitola Village!
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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