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Nicknamed "Surf City," Santa Cruz is a quintessential California beach town. Here, surfing was first introduced from Hawaii, and the rolling waters have been thrilling the board set ever since. Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz's internationally renowned surf spot, hosts the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum within the Mark Abbon Memorial Lighthouse. Close by, screams of delight echo around the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, the West Coast's last remaining seaside amusement park, where the Giant Dipper roller-coaster gets the adrenalin pumping. A more sedate ride aboard the Roaring Camp steam train leads through the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz ...

Nicknamed "Surf City," Santa Cruz is a quintessential California beach town. Here, surfing was first introduced from Hawaii, and the rolling waters have been thrilling the board set ever since. Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz's internationally renowned surf spot, hosts the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum within the Mark Abbon Memorial Lighthouse. Close by, screams of delight echo around the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, the West Coast's last remaining seaside amusement park, where the Giant Dipper roller-coaster gets the adrenalin pumping. A more sedate ride aboard the Roaring Camp steam train leads through the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains - known also as a premium wine-producing region. Back in town, the Santa Cruz City Museum of Natural History has interactive exhibits on the redwoods, as well as other local natural habitats. Santa Cruz is a campus town - the sprawling University of California Santa Cruz is set amidst majestic redwoods - with no shortage of lively bars, clubs, and cafés. The pedestrian-friendly streets lead to Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, protecting the twelfth mission built in California, in 1791. The restored adobe structure is a replica, surrounded by Victorian architecture.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and summer