Accommodation Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz Travel Course

Exploring Santa Cruz

At the northern end of Monterrey Bay, in northern California, is the fun, funky beach town of Santa Cruz. Famous for its vintage boardwalk, surfing scene, and laid-back atmosphere, this cool little town is the perfect place to experience that classic California beach vibe. Balancing things out is one of America’s top universities―the University of California―and its talented students.

Santa Cruz is enveloped by beautiful, lush scenery, both along its rugged coastline and in the redwood forests that dot its interior. The Beach Boardwalk is a huge attraction here and the West Coast’s only original amusement boardwalk still in operation. Downtown is anchored by Pacific Avenue, a lively strip lined with places to eat, enjoy a night out, and shop. The outdoor recreation possibilities around Santa Cruz are incredible, from surfing and paddling, to hiking, biking, and camping.

Sights nearby

It’s a joy to stroll along Pacific Avenue and check out the quirky local scene. But what makes Santa Cruz so fun is the unlimited potential for activity in the area. This includes a day at the beach, walks through redwood forests, and winery tours in the lush countryside.

The Beach Boardwalk
Originally built in 1907, Santa Cruz’s wooden boardwalk is the oldest operating amusement strip of its kind on the American West Coast. It is absolutely loaded with vintage beach ambience, including some cool attractions like one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the country, lots of carnival grub, and incredible people-watching potential.

Pacific Avenue
The heart of soul of funky Santa Cruz can be found along Pacific Avenue. This central strip is lined with eclectic shops, welcoming cafés, and some of the most interesting people-watching you’ll ever see. The nightlife scene is just as good, with plenty of lively bars featuring live music and craft beers. This is great area to be based, with hotels like the Bay Front Inn and the Ocean Pacific Lodge offering affordable and convenient lodging.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
One of the star attractions of any trip to northern California is its towering redwood forests. Just outside of Santa Cruz are several protected groves, including Big Basin State Park. As the oldest state park in California, it features some of the oldest trees on the planet. Besides easy walks through redwood groves, there is the stellar Skyline-to-Sea trail for a real adventure.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Nearly all of the bars, restaurants, and shops are clustered along Pacific Avenue. This is the main street of Santa Cruz and where locals come to hang out and visitors go to eat, drink, and shop. The nightlife along Pacific Avenue is particularly fun, with loads of bars that cater to just about every kind of personality. Ocean Street, which hugs the coast, is another hot spot for eating and accommodation. There are some excellent hotels along this road, such as the Hotel Paradox and the Oceana Inn, which provide great locations and views of the gorgeous coastal scenery.

Public transport

Downtown Santa Cruz, where nearly all the action is concentrated, is pedestrian friendly and easily walkable. If you stay at a hotel in this area, you can get around on foot and even walk to the beach in 20 minutes. Otherwise, it’s essential to have a car to really see the sights of Santa Cruz as most of the natural attractions are on the edge of town. There is a useful public bus network that covers most of the town, from the university to the beach, and the downtown core in between.

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