Santa Cruz is a storied destination, enviably positioned between mountains and the sea. Its lodging options cater to the visitor interested in enjoying its climate, outdoor pursuits, eclectic dining, and vibrant arts scene. Whether you stay in a vintage motel or an exclusive enclave, you'll find knowledgeable locals and proprietors - even other guests - who will help curate a worthwhile experience.
Santa Cruz is a mecca for artists, outdoor enthusiasts-turned-business-owners, and other individualists inspired by its oceanfront setting. Commerce in Santa Cruz isn't just about selling you something: It's more a transaction between an artist or craftsperson who cares deeply about what they've created and who wants you to enjoy it thoroughly. Be prepared: Your Santa Cruz mementos might become your all-time travel favorites.
To experience the best of this Central Coast surf town, you'll need to accept its own sunny terms. Slow down. Step outdoors and set off to explore its famous beaches, waterfront attractions, and world-class music events. Most important, open yourself to meeting your fellow travelers - and there will be many - from itinerant surfers to families from abroad. By day's end, the casual, kindly atmosphere will have soaked in like sunlight itself.
Santa Cruz, on California's Central Coast, is both beach town and mountain village. Though it's known for world-class surf, acclaimed artists, and one of the nation's grandest seaside amusement parks, the city still feels off the beaten path. You're as likely to find yourself latte-to-latte with a famous athlete as to hear the next generation of jazz greats riff beach-side. Relax, and you'll fit right in.
Known as a laid-back, friendly tour stop for artists traveling to the Bay Area, Santa Cruz is spangled with intimate nightclubs, music venues, and theaters from West Cliff to Aptos. Refreshing ocean breezes in the evenings invite you to stroll from venue to venue, or linger in conversation under the stars.
With temperatures generally around 70 degrees F (21 C) year-round, Santa Cruz naturally inspires kid-friendly activities outdoors. Younger children enjoy tide pools along the county's 29 miles of coastline, while older kids love the challenge of water-sports lessons. Many museums and walking tours in town are free, so you can stack the itinerary with arts and culture and still have pocket money for ice cream.
With one of the highest concentrations of resident artists in the country, Santa Cruz teems with creative culture. From theatrical productions to artisan showcases to original artwork mounted on the traffic signal cabinets, you'll discover the city's creative spirit across town year-round. Come see a beloved musical, watch an artist at work, and snap a selfie next to a public art installation.
The Santa Cruz area grows both amazing ingredients - including premium wine grapes and juicy berries - and a perennial crop of talented foodsmiths. Across town, morning to night, you'll find these artisans hard at work to present the region's freshest produce, seafood, baked goods, and beverages with flair.
Locals attest that Santa Cruz is enjoyable year-round, thanks to its mild Mediterranean climate and its prime location between the mountains and sea. A diverse population makes this city home, from well-heeled escapees from major metropolises to world-class surfers living out of their trucks above the surf breaks. Amid this creative, outdoorsy bunch, you'll enjoy ocean-fresh food, seaside fun, and lots of live music.
Sign up for our latest offers
Download the app and book on the go
Join now to collect 10 nights, get 1 free*