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Trip Planner USA  /  California  /  Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

4.1
Theme Parks · Dolphin & Whale Watching · Beaches
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. Take stress off the schedule by using our United States tour builder website.
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Popular things to do in Santa Cruz

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Dolphin / Whale Watching
Dolphin & Whale Watching
4.6
Duration: 2h 30 min
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Boat Tour
Boat Tours & Water Sports
4.7
Duration: 2 hours
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Theme Park
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
4.2
Duration: 2h 30 min
Scenic Drive
West Cliff Drive
4.8
Duration: 2 hours

Side trips from Santa Cruz

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Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium Monterey
4.5
Duration: 3 hours
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Scenic Drive
17-Mile Drive Monterey
4.1
Duration: 2 hours
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State Park
Point Lobos Carmel
4.9
Duration: 2 hours
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Beer Tasting / Tour
Monterey Bay Food Tours Monterey
5.0
Duration: 4 hours

Hidden gems in Santa Cruz

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Pier / Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Wharf
4.3
Duration: 2 hours
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Marina
Santa Cruz Harbor
4.8
Duration: 2 hours
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State Park
Wilder Ranch State Park
4.7
Duration: 2 hours
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Fishing Charter / Tour
Chartle Charters
4.6
Duration: 4 hours

Kid-friendly things to do in Santa Cruz

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Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach
4.3
Duration: 2 hours
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Beach
Waddell Beach
4.6
Duration: 2 hours
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Beach
Seabright State Beach
4.6
Duration: 2 hours
Beach
Panther Beach
4.6
Duration: 2h 30 min

Museums in Santa Cruz

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Specialty Museum
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
4.5
Duration: 2 hours
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Specialty Museum
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center
4.4
Duration: 1h 30 min
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Natural History Museum
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
4.4
Duration: 2 hours
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Art Museum
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
4.2
Duration: 1h 30 min

Beaches in Santa Cruz

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Beach
Pleasure Point Beach
4.5
Duration: 2 hours
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Beach
Twin Lakes State Beach
4.4
Duration: 2h 30 min
Beach
Santa Cruz Harbor Beach
4.3
Duration: 2 hours
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Beach
Santa Cruz Main Beach
4.0
Duration: 2 hours

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

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