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Santa CruzUnited States of America

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

Westside Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America

Westside Santa Cruz

4/5Very Good!(2,552 area reviews)

Westside Santa Cruz is known for its stunning beaches, and with sights like Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Monterey Bay, you won't get bored spending a day wandering around this part of Santa Cruz.

Westside Santa Cruz
41.5 feet tall, 350,000 pounds and able to withstand a quarter million pounds of wave energy: Walton Lighthouse

Eastside Santa Cruz

4.5/5Wonderful!(75 area reviews)

Eastside Santa Cruz is known for its beaches, and you can plan a trip to Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Harbor while you're in town.

Eastside Santa Cruz
Good pizza if you are downtown Santa Cruz

Downtown Santa Cruz

4.5/5Wonderful!(26 area reviews)

Unique features of Downtown Santa Cruz include the beaches and restaurants. Make a stop by Pacific Garden Mall or Pacific Avenue while you're exploring the area.

Downtown Santa Cruz
Evening stroll at the Seabright Beach. If you are lucky, you might run into Matt performing amazing bike tricks by the lighthouse. #LifeAtExpedia #sunset #goldenBeach #blueSky

Seabright

While visiting Seabright, you might make a stop by sights like Santa Cruz Harbor and Ocean Street.

Seabright
What better way to start your day!

Opal Cliffs

While visiting Opal Cliffs, you might make a stop by sights like Monterey Bay and Pleasure Point Park.

Opal Cliffs
Evening stroll at the Seabright Beach. If you are lucky, you might run into Matt performing amazing bike tricks by the lighthouse. #LifeAtExpedia #sunset #goldenBeach #blueSky

Upper Seabright

If you're spending some time in Upper Seabright, Santa Cruz Harbor and Ocean Street are top sights worth seeing.

Upper Seabright

Top Hotels in Santa Cruz

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Casablanca On The Beach
Casablanca On The Beach
3.5 out of 5
101 Main St, Santa Cruz, CA
$119
per night
Apr 6 - Apr 7

Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this beach hotel is steps from Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Monterey Bay is 0.6 mi (1 km) away.

3.7/5Good! (1,730 reviews)

"great location close to the boardwalk, beach, and the pier. spacious room and nice property. not much in the amenities but the location was prime."…"

Reviewed on Mar 18, 2020

Casablanca On The Beach
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
4 out of 5
175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA
$179
per night
Apr 6 - Apr 7

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. ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (2,157 reviews)

"Property was clean and for the most part quite. With. the virus being a part of my stay there isnt much more that I can say."…"

Reviewed on Mar 24, 2020

Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Hilton Santa Cruz - Scotts Valley
Hilton Santa Cruz - Scotts Valley
3.5 out of 5
6001 La Madrona Drive, Santa Cruz, CA
$118
per night
Apr 9 - Apr 10

Situated near the airport, this romantic hotel is 2.4 mi (3.9 km) from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Pacific Avenue and Roaring ...

4.2/5Very Good! (1,747 reviews)

"They were very accommodating with a late checkout."…"

Reviewed on Mar 17, 2020

Hilton Santa Cruz - Scotts Valley

Popular things to do in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Image for Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

4.5/5(1,998 reviews)

Enjoy the thrills at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and find out why people love this theme park in Santa Cruz. Discover the entertainment choices in this walkable area, or seek out the biking trails.

Mystery Spot
Image for Mystery Spot

Mystery Spot

4/5(619 reviews)

You can learn more about the history of Santa Cruz when you make a stop at a top site like Mystery Spot. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the surfing spots.

Capitola Beach
Image for Capitola Beach

Capitola Beach

4.5/5(439 reviews)

Nothing says vacation like spending a lazy day at Capitola Beach, a popular beach in Capitola. While in this quaint area, you can savor the top-notch restaurants.

University of California Santa Cruz
Image for University of California Santa Cruz

University of California Santa Cruz

4/5(547 reviews)

Walk around the campus of University of California Santa Cruz, a top university in Santa Cruz. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the surfing spots.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Image for Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

4.5/5(78 reviews)

Explore the great outdoors with a trip to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a popular green space in Santa Cruz. Wander the forest or discover the mountain views in this relaxing area.

Roaring Camp Railroads
Image for Roaring Camp Railroads

Roaring Camp Railroads

4/5(15 reviews)

Enjoy an outing to Roaring Camp Railroads during your stay in Felton. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the surfing spots.

Top activities in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Train Adventure
Image for Santa Cruz Beach Train Adventure

Santa Cruz Beach Train Adventure

90% of travellers recommend
$34
Per adult
Wilderness Survival Skills Clinic
Image for Wilderness Survival Skills Clinic

Wilderness Survival Skills Clinic

100% of travellers recommend
$135
Per adult
Beginner Surfing Lessons - Santa Cruz
Image for Beginner Surfing Lessons - Santa Cruz

Beginner Surfing Lessons - Santa Cruz

$109
Per adult
Santa Cruz Scavenger Hunt: Licensed to Thrill
Image for Santa Cruz Scavenger Hunt: Licensed to Thrill

Santa Cruz Scavenger Hunt: Licensed to Thrill

$20
Per adult
4 Hour Summer Whale Watch
Image for 4 Hour Summer Whale Watch

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch

96% of travellers recommend
$51
Per adult
Total Yosemite Experience from San Jose
Image for Total Yosemite Experience from San Jose

Total Yosemite Experience from San Jose

88% of travellers recommend
$209
Per adult

Reviews of Santa Cruz

4.4

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
912
5 - Excellent 50.498338870431894%
4 - Good
738
4 - Good 40.863787375415285%
3 - Okay
128
3 - Okay 7.087486157253599%
2 - Disappointing
20
2 - Disappointing 1.1074197120708749%
1 - Terrible
8
1 - Terrible 0.4429678848283499%

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Mar 30, 2020

Would have loved to went but it was closed due to COVID19

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Mar 19, 2020

I don't know if it was the cloudy, drizzly weather, the looming Corona Virus or the fact that I had traveled across the country that day and was tired - but it seems like Santa Cruz was overrated.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Mar 17, 2020

Great little town, love visiting, and the restaurants are surprisingly varied and excellent for foodies.

4/5 - Good

Jill

Mar 16, 2020

It was ok. Unfortunately the boardwalk was closed because of the corona virus, but the pier was still open. We did check out the redwoods, that was a nice walk

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Mar 15, 2020

Santa Cruz is a nice place even though it’s glory days are over but it’s still a really nice place if you can afford it and find your little area.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Mar 14, 2020

I grew up in Santa Cruz, and it was nice to see family and places I used to see all the time.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Santa Cruz

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