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Located on the Northern California coast on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz is a unique beach town with vacation rentals scattered throughout. Home to over 40 kilometres of sun-drenched coastline, a number of beaches, old-growth redwood forests, over 14 state parks, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary—known locally as the “Serengeti of the Sea”—Santa Cruz is a nature lover’s paradise. Popular recreational activities include hiking, cycling, mountain biking, golfing, boating, kayaking, sailing, surfing, and swimming. The area also provides opportunities for wildlife watching, including whales, elephant seals, and monarch butterflies. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park, with its two National Historic Landmark rides, is not to be missed. In addition to its protected areas and landmarks, Santa Cruz has long lured visitors with its history, its vibrant arts and culture scenes, its passionate organic farming movement, its boutique wineries, and its unique shops. The town’s tree-lined streets are adorned with Victorian-era homes, art galleries, museums, and outdoor performance venues. The city’s farmers’ markets feature fresh seafood and produce, while the neighbouring Santa Cruz Mountains, one of the oldest wine regions in the country, produce quality pinot noir. Santa Cruz is dotted with charming shops and that display and sell local artisans’ work, including the products of local wetsuit inventor Jack O’Neill. Annual festivals include cultural traditions like the annual Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Scotts Valley Art & Wine Festival, and the Capitola Art & Wine Festival, as well as sporting events such as the O’Neill Cold Water Classic.
Santa Cruz offers an array of natural, outdoors, and cultural attractions, as well as a variety of facilities and rental accommodation options, and is just over an hour’s drive south of San Francisco and its international airport.