Santa Cruz Beach, in California, is a beach resort community known for its beautiful coastline and redwood forests. It has a moderate climate making it an easy choice for a vacation destination any time of the year. Read on to find out the main attractions in Santa Cruz, fun things to do, where to stay during your visit and how to get there.
Main Attractions in Santa Cruz Beach
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
The boardwalk is arguably the most popular attraction in Santa Cruz. It is an oceanfront amusement park that has been in operation since 1907, making it the oldest amusement park in California and a designated historic landmark. There are a variety of rides, attractions, and events to entertain people of all ages. Be sure to check out the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which was first built in 1924. You can also go bowling, visit the arcade, try your hand at mini golf and plenty more.
Santa Cruz Wharf
The wharf, constructed in 1914, is now the sixth wharf to be built in Santa Cruz. The previous models weren’t sufficient for deep-water ships. This wharf, the Municipal Wharf, has the longest wooden pier in the United States. It offers seaside shopping, dining, and recreation. It is host to a variety of free events and you can enjoy boating, kayaking, whale watching, bay cruises and so much more.
Other Things to Do in Santa Cruz Beach
Hit the Beach
Santa Cruz Beach is known as one of the best places in the world to surf, with 11 world-class surf breaks. Don’t worry, there are lessons available for those new to the sport. Water sports in Santa Cruz are a big hit for locals and tourists alike. Sailing, diving, stand-up paddle boarding, paddling, and swimming are just some of the favorites. The Santa Cruz Wharf is also a hotspot for fishing. The beach can provide a relaxing day on a sailboat or an adventurous day behind a motorboat – there’s something for all ages to enjoy.
Take in the Area Culture
Santa Cruz Beach boasts a plethora of museums, art and has a vibrant social scene. Downtown Santa Cruz hosts a variety of music, sport, art and comedy events. There are more than 100 one-of-a-kind shops, as well as popular favorites. There are dozens of restaurants to try. They pull flavors from the seafood in Monterrey Bay and other local farmers and producers. There is also an abundance of microbrews to try. There is something for everyone downtown, whether a family enjoying the local sports or art enthusiasts taking in First Friday, a monthly celebration of local artists.
Pour Yourself a Glass
The local vineyards have delicious options for a variety of palettes. MJA Vineyards, with the assistance of the Santa Cruz Mountains, produces their wine, the Aloha. They make over eight thousand cases of Aloha each year. They also produce delicious coffee blends, produced on the Big Island of Hawaii, if that’s your preferred cup. The combination of coffee, chocolates, and wine make this a stop you won’t want to miss and a great destination for couples.
Where to Stay in Santa Cruz Beach
Sea and Sand Inn
One of the top ranked hotels in Santa Cruz is the Sea and Sand Inn. Every room has an ocean view and the inn is conveniently located within walking distance of the Boardwalk and the Wharf. There are a variety of room sizes, including cottage suites and studios. Furthermore, selected rooms have spas and suites have hot tubs on their private patios.
Location: 201 West Cliff Drive
Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottage
The quaint Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottages allow visitors to have their own space and kitchen. There are cottages for one or two, or some big enough for a family of six. What’s more, they have access to outdoor barbecues and free continental breakfasts each morning.
Location: 401 Johans Beach Drive (between Capitola Village and the Boardwalk)
The historical Carmelita Cottages are host to a Santa Cruz youth hostel. This a great option for an affordable stay. There are rates for dorm beds or private rooms. The hostel hosted over 10,000 guests last year and gives people an excellent opportunity to witness cultures from around the world.
Location: 321 Main Street
There are also a multitude of vacation rentals if you’re looking for a larger space for your family or even a few friends. Trip Advisor offers great insight on choices by providing lots of reviews from tourists.
How to Get to Santa Cruz Beach
Santa Cruz is located on the northern edge of Monterrey Bay.
There is a variety of public transportation to get in and around Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Trolley is one option. It stops at the Del Mar Theatre, Locust Street Garage and the Sanctuary Exploration Center. It’s a convenient way to get from the beach to downtown. You can also get a day pass for unlimited rides on the Santa Cruz Metro bus system.
Needing to fly to visit Santa Cruz? Your closest option is the San José Airport. The local airport, Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC), has various ground transportation available when you land. Santa Cruz Beach is approximately 30 miles from San Jose. You can access Santa Cruz by going south on CA 17 South.
Some utilize the San Francisco International Airport as well. It is roughly 61 miles from Santa Cruz. Take US-101 South to CA-85 South/Norman Y. Mineta Highway, then CA-17 South toward Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Beach is the perfect blend of oceanside fun and eclectic and interesting city life. Visitors can enjoy sailing, surfing, shopping and the sites. Book your trip to Santa Cruz and it won’t disappoint. Don’t be overwhelmed with all the fantastic things to do. We know you’ll be ready to book your next trip as soon as leave.