12 Best Hotels in Santa Cruz, United States - Mar 2019
Dream Inn Santa Cruz
Pacific Blue Inn
West Cliff Inn a Four Sisters Inn
Beach Street Inn and Suites
Holiday Inn Express Santa Cruz
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Santa Cruz
Mission Inn Santa Cruz
Hotel Paradox Autograph Collection
Babbling Brook Inn
Hyatt Place Santa Cruz
Rio Vista Suites Santa Cruz
Hampton Inn Santa Cruz
Your Travel Guide to Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is south of San Francisco, and the northernmost point of Monterey Bay. It offers an intoxicating view of the ocean, as well as beautiful beaches along the coast. You can go surfing, swimming, fishing, or enjoy a number of other water sports. Its scenic boardwalk is famous for its amusement park rides and games--and it has actually been used as the backdrop in a number of movies (the most famous being Clint Eastwood's "Sudden Impact" in the Dirty Harry series).
What are the Must-Do-s and See-s in Santa Cruz?
Santa Cruz Boardwalk
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is an amusement park with both thrill rides and rides for the entire family. The thrill rides include the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which has been operating since 1924! There is also The Double Shot, which is a free fall from 125 feet! There are also rides that are designed for the whole family, such as Freefall, Space Race, and the water slide Logger’s Revenge. There are also carousels and bumper cars for very young children. Please take note of the height requirements for each ride. The park also includes bowling, miniature golf, a maze, and more! You can buy an all-day rides wristband, that gives you unlimited rides, as well as access to games and other attractions.
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has a number of exhibits where you can learn about marine life--there is even a touch pool where you can reach in and touch some of the specimens! Other exhibits teach about the native peoples of Santa Cruz before the Spanish conquest, where you can see some of their tools and other artifacts. The wildlife exhibits display insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals that are native to the Santa Cruz area.
University of California Santa Cruz Campus
The campus of University of California Santa Cruz ( = UCSC) houses much more than the university facilities. The campus encloses 2000 acres of space, and is surrounded by a number of parks. There is the Pogonip Park, which is noteworthy for its numerous scenic trails, of various levels of difficulty. There is also the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, featuring California redwoods as much as 1500 years old! West of the college campus, there is also Wilder Ranch State Park and the Fall Creek Unit.There are further hiking trails, as well as picnic areas and opportunities to go horseback riding and even spelunking (= descending into wild caves).
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
Now this is a museum that not many other places can boast of! In 2012, Santa Cruz was designated as the world surfing reserve, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Santa Cruz should also have a museum devoted to surfing. The sport of surfing was actually imported to Santa Cruz by three Hawaiian princes in 1885. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is located in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz. It contains pictures and exhibits chronicling over 100 years of history of surfing in the state of California, as well as an exhibit on the evolution of surfboards.
Santa Cruz Wharf
The Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is was one of several wharfs constructed in the early 1900s, but the only one that remains today. This is the longest, at 2745 feet long. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs or to grab something to eat. You can take a kayak or a rental boat to observe marine life, or do some fishing. At the end of the wharf, there is an observation deck for looking at sea lions, seals, otters, dolphins, and even occasional whales that come into Monterey Bay. The hotels located closest to the wharf are the Casablanca Inn on the Beach, the Dream Inn of Santa Cruz, and the Beachview Inn of Santa Cruz.
Getting Around in Santa Cruz
Airports in the Vicinity of Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz itself doesn’t really have an airport. If you can fly a plane yourself, you can land it in Watsonville Municipal Airport. If that’s not a option, San Jose International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Oakland International Airport all receive flights from the major commercial airlines.
The Santa Cruz Airport Flyer and Early Bird Airport Shuttle are airport shuttle services that can take you from San Francisco Airport or San Jose Airport to Santa Cruz. The shuttle buses operate from 4 AM to 8 PM, with one bus leaving every two hours.
There is a limousine service that takes you to Santa Cruz. The limousine will pick you up at a prearranged time, which is better if your flight arrives outside the hours of the shuttle bus services.
The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District is a bus service operating within Santa Cruz county. As a last resort of getting out of the San Jose or San Francisco Airport, there is a possibility of using a combination of shuttle, train, and bus to get you into Santa Cruz--but that is the most time-consuming, not to mention confusing!