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Trip Planner USA  /  California  /  Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz remains synonymous with surfing, but this counterculture bastion offers plenty even if you don't plan to catch any waves. Some of the natural, undeveloped beaches feature calm water for swimming, and the boardwalk serves as a colorful area full of amusement games. The university brings students for much of the year, many of whom choose the school for its strong liberal arts programs and scenic environs. A healthy cafe culture exists here, and the local dining scene includes both restaurants covering a broad swath of global cuisines and establishments that maintain their focus on local ingredients. State parks surround Santa Cruz, making it an ideal base for trips into nature. Santa Cruz is in California. Add Santa Cruz and other destinations in United States to your travel itinerary using our United States travel planner.
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Popular things to do in Santa Cruz

4.7
Duration: 2 hours
4.2
Duration: 2h 30 min
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Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2h 30 min

Side trips from Santa Cruz

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Duration: 3 hours
4.1
Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 3h 30 min

Hidden gems in Santa Cruz

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Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2 hours

Kid-friendly things to do in Santa Cruz

4.6
Duration: 2 hours
4.6
Duration: 2h 30 min
4.0
Duration: 2h 30 min
4.5
Duration: 1h 30 min

Beaches in Santa Cruz

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4.5
Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2h 30 min
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Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2 hours

Museums in Santa Cruz

4.5
Duration: 2 hours
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Duration: 2 hours
4.2
Duration: 1h 30 min

Where to stay in Santa Cruz

Most of the accommodations in Santa Cruz occupy a place near the beach and boardwalk. Inns and bed and breakfasts make up most of the selection here, but you'll also find a few motels and hotels sprinkled in. You might consider staying in one of the inns or bed and breakfasts located inside some of the Victorian houses downtown, which lies just to the north. A number of budget motels line both San Lorenzo Boulevard, which is just across Carbonara Creek from the main tourist area by the beach, and Ocean Street a little farther north.
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Places to visit with Santa Cruz

San Francisco BEST FOR: Island, Bridge, Pier / Boardwalk
Yosemite National Park BEST FOR: Geologic Formation, Hiking Trail, Waterfall
Los Angeles BEST FOR: Theme Park, Specialty Museum, Historic Walking Area
San Diego BEST FOR: Specialty Museum, Zoo, Beach
Anaheim BEST FOR: Disney Park / Activity, Ride / Activity, Room Escape Game

Recently planned trips to Santa Cruz

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