Explore Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is a small tourist location situated on the northern curve of Monterey Bay, California, with the Santa Cruz Mountains as a backdrop. The city's name comes from its mission: Mission La Exaltación de la Santa Cruz, originally founded in 1791. The area is famous for its agricultural products and the laid-back nature of its inhabitants. Surfing addicts can book an ocean hotel here. The city experienced considerable damage as a result of the earthquake of 1989.
When to visit Santa CruzThe city has a mild year-round climate with temperatures of 75ºF in July and 60ºF in January. Summer is popular for users of the beach and boardwalk, and the University of California, Santa Cruz holds a Shakespeare festival every summer.
How to get to Santa CruzThe closest airport to Santa Cruz is the small Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY) but of more use to tourists are the other airports of northern California: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and San José International Airport (SJC). Greyhound buses stop in the center of Santa Cruz and the coastal highway passes through. Many people explore the area by bike.
Santa Cruz attractionsThe city's major tourist attraction aside from the beach is the Boardwalk Amusement Park, an old-style amusement strip with rides and games and a carousel. The standout is the wooden-tracked, mile-long Giant Dipper roller coaster, built in 1924 and now considered a national historic landmark. There are a number of coast hotels and cheaper hostels in this vicinity. Mission Santa Cruz was destroyed by fire in 1856, though the current mission is a rebuilt replica of the original. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is based in a lighthouse. Further west is the Natural Bridges State Beach, a natural arch in the coastal rock.
Where to stay in Santa CruzYou can stay out of town at the luxury Chaminade Resort & Spa or the Hilton Santa Cruz. Otherwise most of the cheap hotels are on or near Ocean Street, which leads down to the coast. You'll also find the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western All Suite Inn there. Wherever you plan to stay, Hotels.com offers the best choice of accommodations in Santa Cruz.