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Pro tips from our travel blog: Everything you need to know for a perfectly rewarding trip to Santa Cruz

The city of Santa Cruz is located along the coast of California, attracting sun seekers to its beaches, foodies to its wharf, and hipsters to its many vintage stores and coffee bars. It has an alternative vibe that stretches from its coastline into the nearby Redwood Forests.

Where to stay in Santa Cruz, California

Those who want to fully enjoy Santa Cruz’s coastal vibe will want to stay close to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Wharf. The Boardwalk is an old school outdoor amusement park by the beach that has been open to the public since 1907, while the Santa Cruz wharf is a long pier with plenty of shops and restaurants. It splits the main beach area in half, with Cowell Beach to the west and Main Beach to the right.

Shopaholics should head Downtown, where they can also find plenty of cafes and the Museum of Art and History. Nature lovers on the other hand, will want to seek their accommodation located in the north, close to the hiking and biking trails of the Pogonip Park. It is a vast green area covered in redwood and oak forests at the edge of the city.

The Santa Cruz Harbor is the gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and a great place for those who are into water activities. Kayaking, fishing, whale watching, sailing, and SUP. It is all possible here. The nearby Twin Lakes State Beach is a hotspot for surfers and offers great views of the Walton Lighthouse by Seabright State Beach.

3 and 4 star hotels in Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz is home to eight 4-star hotels and 25 3-star hotels. Each star category offers a diverse choice of business hotels, pet-friendly hotels, and boutique hotels in Santa Cruz.

The 4 star hotels in Santa Cruz generally feature one or more on-site restaurants, parking, and free WiFi. Some of them have a pool, spa and/or fitness center. However, all of them have fully equipped rooms with flat screen televisions, hair dryers, safes, coffee makers, and free toiletries.

Santa Cruz’s 3 star hotels offer many of the same services, just a bit more toned down. Additionally, most of them will provide you with free breakfast, WiFi, and parking.

Hotels near Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Intl. Airport, San Francisco Intl. Airport, and Monterey Peninsula Airport

Santa Cruz does not have its own airport, but there are various options both nearby and a bit further out depending on where you are coming from. The Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport is your best bet as it is the closest international airport with lots of both international and domestic flights going in and out every day.

San Francisco International Airport also welcomes both domestic and international flights but adds about half an hour to your travel time should you be renting a car. Another option is the Monterey Peninsula Airport. This one is also located nearby, but it only caters to Central California.

No matter which airport is most convenient for you, they all have hotels nearby where you can spend the night after a late or before an early flight. There are ten hotels close to San Jose International Airport, eight hotels close to San Francisco International Airport, and six hotels close to the Monterey Peninsula Airport.