Santa Cruz

Travel Guide
Santa Cruz featuring rocky 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.

Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection
Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection
4 out of 5
611 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is AU$227 per night from 24 Jan. to 25 Jan.
Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Cruz Wharf. Monterey Bay and University of California, ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (976 reviews)
"A nice and unique property located centrally."

Reviewed on 11 Jan. 2022

Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
4 out of 5
175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is AU$328 per night from 20 Jan. to 21 Jan.
Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this beachfront resort is in the city centre and within a 10-minute walk of Santa Cruz Main Beach, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (960 reviews)
"The heated pool and spa were so nice as were the fire pits. The staff was over the moon nice, friendly and funny - we had some great conversations with them. The property was nice and clean and just all around an amazing place to stay."

Reviewed on 11 Jan. 2022

Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Casablanca On The Beach
Casablanca On The Beach
3.5 out of 5
101 Main St, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is AU$257 per night from 23 Jan. to 24 Jan.
Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this beach hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Monterey Bay and Ocean Street ...
4/5 Very Good! (274 reviews)
"Not a bad place to stay. Just needs better pillows"

Reviewed on 15 Jan. 2022

Casablanca On The Beach
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.
Complete Comfort Sanctuary in Santa Cruz Mountains-Private BDRM
Complete Comfort Sanctuary in Santa Cruz Mountains-Private BDRM
5715 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is AU$215 per night from 23 Jan. to 24 Jan.
Located in the heart of Santa Cruz, this holiday home is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Wilder Ranch State Park and within 6 miles (10 km) of University of California, ...
3/5 (3 reviews)
Unbearable
"Long 20 minute dangerous hairpin trip up narrow road, no cell service, no lock on door to keep strangers out of room, a mist shower that took 15 minutes to wet hair until it shut off mid shower--had to fill coffee cup in sink to get soap out of eyes, water cooler with no water and a sign to fill ..."

Reviewed on 29 Jul. 2019

Complete Comfort Sanctuary in Santa Cruz Mountains-Private BDRM
Charming Twin Lakes Beach Cottage
Charming Twin Lakes Beach Cottage
363 7th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
This family-friendly Santa Cruz cottage is located by the sea, within 1 mi (2 km) of Twin Lakes State Beach, Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Ocean ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (23 reviews)
Lovely library stay
"We really enjoyed the original details like built-in bookshelves and charming split door. The cottage was perfectly clean and comfortable, and we especially enjoyed the welcoming touches like snacks and tea selection. It was convenient to the beach, SC boardwalk, and day excursions. Thanks for the ..."

Reviewed on 18 Jan. 2022

Charming Twin Lakes Beach Cottage
Opal Cliff Beach House
Opal Cliff Beach House
3.5 out of 5
4355 Opal Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA
Located in Pleasure Point, this apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Monterey Bay and Capitola Beach. The Hook and Hooper Beach are also within 15 ...
Opal Cliff Beach House
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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