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What travelers to Santa Cruz are saying
Feel the relaxed vibes of Santa Cruz, California
About 65 miles down the California coast, south of the ultra-cosmopolitan city of San Francisco, sits the open-minded city of Santa Cruz. The surf beaches, amusements bustling boardwalks and redwood forests of Santa Cruz County are about 90 minutes from the city, offering visitors an escape that feels worlds and decades away from the hubbub of everyday life.
Things to see and do
Perfect for those who like a laidback surf getaway, there is even more to Santa Cruz than catching some waves.
Santa Cruz Mystery Spot
Local legends regarding the infamous Santa Cruz Mystery Spot abound. The gravitational anomaly spot is a playground of puzzling gravity, height and perspective. Some people claim to have walked across the ceiling of the odd architectural funhouse. Visitors who wish to find out for themselves are invited to 465 Mystery Spot Road.
Natural Bridges State Beach
The freshwater wetlands, salty marsh and exquisite natural geology of Natural Bridges State Beach are a marvel, well worth a day of your vacation time in Santa Cruz. The park is open year-round from 8:00a.m. to sunset. Time your visit to coincide with the annual monarch butterfly migration, from late October through January, to see one of nature's greatest shows.
Where to stay
Santa Cruz hotels with a beach view treat your senses, with the sounds of waves crashing and the aroma of on-site seafood being cooked. Santa Cruz Dream Inn celebrates the retro coolness of this town, with its roots firmly in the 60s. Views of Monterey Bay and the adjacent Beach Boardwalk give visitors the full seaside experience.
Leading you from the beach to the center of town via the San Lorenzo River, Riverside Avenue is a handy location to stay on. Super 8 Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East reflects the liveliness of the city and is in close proximity to pretty much everything you need to see and do in Santa Cruz.
Where to eat
The city’s beach location makes for an ideal, housing everything from after-surfing, Baja-style fish taco joints to upscale seafood restaurants. The Crow’s Nest restaurant is a hit with the locals, and serves up fresh seafood specials as well as breakfasts. If you have a hankering for a satisfying plate of absolutely unpretentious shrimp, you can find casual eateries right next to the beach with amazing views such as Harbor Cafe.
For travelers who prefer to graze lightly or make their own in-room meals, Santa Cruz County offers an abundance of farmers markets. Some run from May through to October while others, including the Westside Santa Cruz Farmers Market at the corner of Western and Mission, are open year-round.
Best time to visit
The central coastal location of Santa Cruz in Californiamakes it a nice place to visit any time of year. If you're coming in hopes of finding big surf, visit during the winter months. Summertime draws in a variety of travelers looking to do all sorts of things.
How to get there
Several airports serve Bay Area visitors very well. Travelers who fly into either airport will find plenty of cabs, buses and shuttle services that serve the Santa Cruz area.
From San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Pick up a rental car and head south on U.S. Hwy 101 to highways 85 and 17. To enjoy a super-scenic but somewhat longer drive, take CA Hwy 1 south through Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz.
From Oakland International Airport (OAK)
Follow signs from the airport to Interstate 880 and take it south toward San Jose. In approximately 42 miles, I-880 becomes CA-17. Remain on the road and merge onto CA Hwy 1 S to Santa Cruz.
Recently booked Santa Cruz hotels
|Hotel||Last booked||Stars||Price from|
|Santa Cruz Dream Inn||9 hours ago||$257|
|Oceana Inn Santa Cruz||9 hours ago||$96|
|Continental Inn||12 hours ago||$133|
|Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cotta||13 hours ago||$205|
|Casa Blanca Inn on the Beach||14 hours ago||$238|
|Hotel Paradox||16 hours ago||$227|
|Holiday Inn Express & Suites SANTA CRUZ||16 hours ago||$153|
|Coastview Inn Santa Cruz||17 hours ago||$149|
|Ocean Pacific Lodge||17 hours ago||$126|
|Ocean Gate Inn||18 hours ago||$90|
Recently Rated Santa Cruz Hotels
3.8 / 549 reviews
|Santa Cruz Dream Inn||
4.1 / 5101 reviews
|Holiday Inn Express & Suites SANTA CRUZ||
4.0 / 564 reviews
|Ramada Limited Santa Cruz||
2.7 / 569 reviews
|Ocean Pacific Lodge||
3.8 / 5136 reviews
|Hampton Inn Santa Cruz||
3.4 / 518 reviews
4.2 / 519 reviews
|Bay Front Inn||
3.8 / 540 reviews
|Super 8 Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East||
3.7 / 519 reviews
|Casa Blanca Inn on the Beach||
4.0 / 510 reviews
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Featured Santa Cruz Hotels
175 West Cliff Drive
Save 15% On Your Stay
Only in Santa Cruz is retro so cool. Instead of tearing down this 1960s relic, hoteliers embraced and retrofitted the 10-story property fronting Cowell's longboard wave as a chic boutique hotel in...
101 Main st
Once a luxurious mansion built in 1916, This Charming Seaside Inn overlooks the beautiful Monterey Bay across from the Main Beach & the Santa Cruz Wharf.A true Mediterranean Villa, this...
Charming Restored Historic Santa Cruz
111 Ocean Street
Whether you are traveling on business or on vacation, we know that you have a choice where you want to stay when you visit Santa Cruz, CA. When you choose to stay with us at Ocean Gate Inn, you...
Quick Santa Cruz get away
414 Ocean Street
The Continental Inn is just minutes from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Indulge in the comfort of one of our Deluxe style guestrooms, featuring wireless Internet access, HBO and much more. In the...
525 Ocean Street
Oceana Inn Santa Cruz is just one mile to the shore of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz, California. This budget-friendly motel with a swimming pool and poolside patio also offers a free, daily...
325 Pacific avenue
The pet-friendly and comfortable Bay Front Inn is close to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the shopping and night life of Downtown Santa Cruz, while offering affordable accommodations and featuring...
301 Pacific Ave.
Ocean Pacific Lodge offers a value accommodation in the heart of laid-back Santa Cruz. The ocean and downtown are never more than a five-minute walk away. Personal service and attention to detail...
500 Ocean Street
Palm trees and Northern California sun greet guests at Best Western All Suite Inn in Santa Cruz, located in the heart of suburban surf city near Hwy 1. Large and contemporary all-suite units...
Beds could be softer
301 Beach Street
Coastview Inn Santa Cruz boasts an unbeatable and rare beachfront location just across from Santa Cruz's main beach. A large seasonal courtyard and heated pool offers guests to choice to relax...
Basic room, very close to beach
370 Ocean Street
Central to Santa Cruz, the Motel Santa Cruz is just minutes from the Santa Cruz beach and Boardwalk, the Light House State Beach, Museum of Natural History, the University of California Santa Cruz,...
Glad it was only one night
611 Ocean Street
Book now and save 15%
The new Hotel Paradox in beautiful Santa Cruz, California, is introducing a chic vibe to hotel lodging on the Central Coast. Designed with a fine eye to detail, the boutique Hotel Paradox features...
110 Plymouth St.
Comfort Inn Santa Cruz is convenient for highway travelers to Santa Cruz. This hotel is located at the crossroads of highways 1 and 17 in a suburban area, with downtown Santa Cruz and beaches just...
Good practice room
600 Riverside Avenue
Stay 2, Save 15%
An affordable hotel offering rooms and two-story suites ideal for group or family travel. Stay within walking distance of downtown Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Our hotel features...
Over Santa Cruz
1410 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (0.9 mi/1.4 km)Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium (1.1 mi/1.8 km)Downtown/Pacific Street (1.2 mi/1.9 km)Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and Beach Boardwalk (2 mi/3.3...
516 Water St
Stay 2, Save 15%
For an easy location and basic hotel amenities that include an in-room refrigerator and microwave, Ramada Limited Santa Cruz Water Street provides a good value. The downtown accommodation near Hwy...
1025 Laurel Street
Babbling brook inn holds over a century of history. With a romantic garden gazebo and a running brook through majestic pine and redwood trees babbling brook inn is a romantic oasis within the...
Great Romantic Getaway
126 Plymouth Street
Best Western Inn is convenient and well equipped for business travelers spending time in Santa Cruz. Located at the crossroads of highways 1 and 17 in a suburban area, this small property offers...
Not very clean
130 West Cliff Drive
Stay 2, Save 15%
Take the family to this Howard Johnson Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for your next fun-filled vacation. Nearby Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk offers miles of beautiful beaches, roller coasters and...
338 Riverside Ave
Stay 2, Save 15%
Super 8 Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East gets high marks for easy beach side stays in Santa Cruz at a reasonable price. Motel amenities are upgraded to provide guests with a comfortable basic place...
Will stay again
314 Riverside Ave.
100% non smoking hotel. Famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk and beaches 1 block. Restaurants and shopping nearby. FREE high speed Internet in all rooms. Guest must be 21 years and older to book room.