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Best of Santa Cruz Guide

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Santa Cruz
The quintessential California beach town of Santa Cruz! It was here that surfing was first brought to the mainland by Hawaiian royalty. Home to the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined downtown area, and the historic Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, which stretches out a half-mile into the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Other highlights include UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, and nearby redwood forests.

All things to do » Things to do

West Cliff Drive
West Cliff Drive
Attraction type: Scenic Drives; Scenic Walking Areas
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Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach
Owner description: A refuge for wintering Monarch Butterflies, this park boasts a sandy cove, tidepools, a nature trail through the Butterfly Preserve, and several hiking trails. There is also a... more Owner description: A refuge for wintering Monarch Butterflies, this park boasts a sandy cove, tidepools, a nature trail through the Butterfly Preserve, and several hiking trails. There is also a bicycle path around the perimeter of the park. less
Attraction type: Beaches; Geologic Formations; State Parks
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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Owner description: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a classic seaside amusement park. The admission-free attraction features thrill rides like the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster, kiddie rides... more Owner description: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a classic seaside amusement park. The admission-free attraction features thrill rides like the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster, kiddie rides, games, shops, food, and year-round indoor activities. Admission is free. Ride tickets may be purchased per ride, per day, or per season. Free summer entertainment includes Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach. less
Attraction type: Theme Parks
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Santa Cruz Wharf
Santa Cruz Wharf
Attraction type: Piers & Boardwalks
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Mystery Spot
Mystery Spot
Owner description: The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in... more Owner description: The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned. But don't take our word for it, come and decide for yourself! The Mystery Spot was discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors and opened to the public in 1940. The Mystery Spot has amazed and perplexed hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, and many return time and time again to experience these puzzling variations of gravity, perspective, and height. Some speculate that cones of metal were secretly brought here and buried in our earth as guidance systems for their spacecraft. Some think that it is in fact the spacecraft itself buried deep within the ground. Other theories include carbon dioxide permeating from the earth, a hole in the ozone layer, a magma vortex, the highest dielectric biocosmic radiation known anywhere in the world, and radiesthesia. Whatever the cause is, it remains a mystery. less
Attraction type: Mysterious Sites
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All places to eat » Places to eat

Marianne's Ice Cream
Marianne's Ice Cream
Ranked #1 of 372 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Cuisines: American
Good for: Local cuisine, Kids, Families with children, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Parking Available, Seating, Takeout, Wheelchair Accessible
Buttery
Buttery
Ranked #2 of 372 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Cuisines: American, Cafe
Good for: Local cuisine, Kids, Families with children
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Seating, Takeout, Wheelchair Accessible
Laili Restaurant
Laili Restaurant
Ranked #3 of 372 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Price: $7 - $22
Cuisines: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Afghani
Good for: Large groups, Business meetings, Families with children, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Linda's Seabreeze Cafe
Linda's Seabreeze Cafe
Ranked #4 of 372 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Cuisines: American, Cafe
Good for: Local cuisine, Kids, Families with children
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch, Highchairs Available, Parking Available, Seating, Takeout, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Crow's Nest Restaurant
Crow's Nest Restaurant
Ranked #5 of 372 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Cuisines: American, Bar, Seafood
Good for: Large groups, Local cuisine, Kids, Business meetings, Families with children, Bar scene, Special occasions, Romantic, Scenic view
Dining options: Breakfast, Drinks, Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Brunch, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible

All accommodations » Where to stay - Budget

Quality Inn
2.5 of 5
Quality Inn
$102 - $309
Ranked #7 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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Carousel Beach Inn
Carousel Beach Inn
$129 - $255
Ranked #8 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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Best Western Plus All Suites Inn
2.5 of 5
Best Western Plus All Suites Inn
$132 - $323
Ranked #10 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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All accommodations » Where to stay - Midrange

Sea & Sand Inn
Sea & Sand Inn
$200 - $290
Ranked #1 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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Dream Inn
4.0 of 5
Dream Inn
$244 - $571
Ranked #2 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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Beach Street Inn and Suites
2.0 of 5
Beach Street Inn and Suites
$188 - $719
Ranked #3 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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All accommodations » Where to stay - Luxury

Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection
4.0 of 5
Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection
$210 - $451
Ranked #5 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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Chaminade Resort & Spa
4.0 of 5
Chaminade Resort & Spa
$219 - $443
Ranked #11 of 54 Hotels in Santa Cruz
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Additional nearby recommended accommodations:

Seascape Resort
4.0 of 5
Seascape Resort
$304 - $615
Ranked #3 of 6 Hotels in Aptos
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.