Important: This destination may have COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, including specific restrictions for lodging. Check any national, local, and health advisories for this destination before you book.

Santa CruzUnited States of America

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.

Where to stay in Santa Cruz

Westside Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America

Westside Santa Cruz

4/5Very Good!(2,580 area reviews)

Westside Santa Cruz is known for its stunning beaches, and with sights like Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Monterey Bay, you won't get bored spending a day wandering around this part of Santa Cruz.

Westside Santa Cruz
41.5 feet tall, 350,000 pounds and able to withstand a quarter million pounds of wave energy: Walton Lighthouse

Eastside Santa Cruz

4.5/5Wonderful!(78 area reviews)

Eastside Santa Cruz is known for its beaches, and you can plan a trip to Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Harbor while you're in town.

Eastside Santa Cruz
Good pizza if you are downtown Santa Cruz

Downtown Santa Cruz

4.5/5Wonderful!(27 area reviews)

You'll enjoy the live music and theaters in Downtown Santa Cruz. You might want to make time for a stop at Pacific Garden Mall or Pacific Avenue.

Downtown Santa Cruz
Evening stroll at the Seabright Beach. If you are lucky, you might run into Matt performing amazing bike tricks by the lighthouse. #LifeAtExpedia #sunset #goldenBeach #blueSky

Seabright

While visiting Seabright, you might make a stop by sights like Santa Cruz Harbor and Main Beach.

Seabright
What better way to start your day!

Opal Cliffs

While visiting Opal Cliffs, you might make a stop by sights like Monterey Bay and Pleasure Point Park.

Opal Cliffs
Evening stroll at the Seabright Beach. If you are lucky, you might run into Matt performing amazing bike tricks by the lighthouse. #LifeAtExpedia #sunset #goldenBeach #blueSky

Upper Seabright

When in Upper Seabright, you can plan a visit to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Cruz Harbor, some noteworthy sights in the nearby area.

Upper Seabright

Top Hotels in Santa Cruz

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Casablanca On The Beach
Casablanca On The Beach
3.5 out of 5
101 Main St, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is ¥18,294 per night

Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this beach hotel is steps from Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Monterey Bay is 0.6 mi (1 km) away.

3.7/5Good! (1,776 reviews)

"I loved the staff who checked us in! They were super accommodating and even gave us an upgrade! Love this hotel and definitely coming back!"…"

Reviewed on May 18, 2020

Casablanca On The Beach
Mission Inn
Mission Inn
2.5 out of 5
2250 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA
The price is ¥11,353 per night

Located in Westside Santa Cruz, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Swift Street Courtyard and Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) ...

4.2/5Very Good! (631 reviews)

"Nice and convenient location. Friendly staff and easy check-in."…"

Reviewed on Jun 2, 2020

Mission Inn
Capitola Venetian Hotel
Capitola Venetian Hotel
2.5 out of 5
1500 Wharf Road, Capitola, CA
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is ¥21,512 per night

Nestled on the beach, this Capitola hotel is just steps from Capitola Wharf and Capitola Beach. Monterey Bay is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) away.

4.2/5Excellent! (306 reviews)

"I love the Venetian because of its unbeatable location- right off Capitola beach. But, it is older and loud. We were on the bottom floor- could hear EVERYTHING above us. And, the power flickered on and off a couple times, which was annoying, but not awful. Very roomy and clean though. Of course we'll ..."…"

Reviewed on May 28, 2020

Capitola Venetian Hotel

Popular places to visit in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Image for Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

4.5/5(2,012 reviews)

Enjoy the thrills at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and find out why people love this theme park in Santa Cruz. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the biking trails.

Mystery Spot
Image for Mystery Spot

Mystery Spot

4/5(639 reviews)

You can learn more about the history of Santa Cruz when you make a stop at a top site like Mystery Spot. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the surfing spots.

Capitola Beach
Image for Capitola Beach

Capitola Beach

4.5/5(451 reviews)

Nothing says vacation like spending a lazy day at Capitola Beach, a popular beach in Capitola. While in this quaint area, you can savor the top-notch restaurants.

University of California Santa Cruz
Image for University of California Santa Cruz

University of California Santa Cruz

4/5(550 reviews)

Walk around the campus of University of California Santa Cruz, a top university in Santa Cruz. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the surfing spots.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Image for Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

4.5/5(81 reviews)

Explore the great outdoors with a trip to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a popular green space in Santa Cruz. Wander the forest or discover the mountain views in this relaxing area.

Roaring Camp Railroads
Image for Roaring Camp Railroads

Roaring Camp Railroads

4/5(15 reviews)

Enjoy an outing to Roaring Camp Railroads during your stay in Felton. Attend a sporting event in this walkable area, or seek out the surfing spots.

Top things to do in Santa Cruz

Wilderness Survival Skills Clinic
Image for Wilderness Survival Skills Clinic

Wilderness Survival Skills Clinic

100% of travellers recommend
¥14,551
Per adult
Santa Cruz Scavenger Hunt: Licensed to Thrill
Image for Santa Cruz Scavenger Hunt: Licensed to Thrill

Santa Cruz Scavenger Hunt: Licensed to Thrill

¥2,124
Per adult
Beginner Surfing Lessons - Santa Cruz
Image for Beginner Surfing Lessons - Santa Cruz

Beginner Surfing Lessons - Santa Cruz

¥11,737
Per adult
4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed
Image for 4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed

96% of travellers recommend
¥5,174
Per adult
California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel
Image for California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel

California Coastline: Monterey & Carmel

94% of travellers recommend
¥11,301
Per adult
Virtual tour of the Big Sur on PCH Rt-1 California from Home
Image for Virtual tour of the Big Sur on PCH Rt-1 California from Home

Virtual tour of the Big Sur on PCH Rt-1 California from Home

¥862
Per adult

Reviews of Santa Cruz

4.4

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
924
5 - Excellent 50.519409513395296%
4 - Good
746
4 - Good 40.78731547293603%
3 - Okay
130
3 - Okay 7.107709130672498%
2 - Disappointing
20
2 - Disappointing 1.0934937124111537%
1 - Terrible
9
1 - Terrible 0.4920721705850191%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 24, 2020

Great little beach town. Plenty of fun for kids, adults, and basically anybody else that enjoys beach towns.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

May 14, 2020

Very laid back beach town! Would love to come back when everything is open and booming again.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Apr 28, 2020

i love santa cruz its my place where i love to get away too

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Mar 30, 2020

Would have loved to went but it was closed due to COVID19

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Mar 19, 2020

I don't know if it was the cloudy, drizzly weather, the looming Corona Virus or the fact that I had traveled across the country that day and was tired - but it seems like Santa Cruz was overrated.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Mar 17, 2020

Great little town, love visiting, and the restaurants are surprisingly varied and excellent for foodies.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Santa Cruz

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Check out our list of piers without peers.

Check out our list of piers without peers.
Check out our list of piers without peers.

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