Experience Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is a perfect fusion of cool surfer hippie vibes, relaxing seaside walks and a bustling energy of creativity. Downtown you can find lots of interesting places with fun people, who are happy to share their thoughts on the world with you. Thanks to the University Campus, it’s also a city full of young minds looking to change the world to a better place.
At the seaside, by the boardwalk, you can stroll along the beautiful shoreline, and watch the local surfers smash some of the famous waves. Surfing culture is a big thing in Santa Cruz, and if you’re looking for the origins of surfing in California, Santa Cruz is one of those historic places.
Of course you can also enjoy the delicious local cuisine, influenced by the people of Santa Cruz who come from all over the world. Santa Cruz is really the face of the future, of a more colorful and diverse world in all ways!
- Our favorite beach: Mitchell's Cove Beach
- Our favorite restaurant: Oswald Restaurant
- Our favorite watersport in Santa Cruz: Private surf lesson in Santa Cruz
Language and currency in Santa Cruz
The official language of Santa Cruz is American English. So, you won't have any trouble getting around the city if you can speak simple English.
The local currency in Santa Cruz is the US dollar (USD), which is easy to exchange at local banks. A lot of places in the city also accept credit cards. Because exchange rates at airports tend to be higher, it's best to change money at a bank in the city.
Getting around in Santa Cruz
It’s actually quite easy to get around in Santa Cruz without a car. There is a good network of public transportation with the Metro which offers a wide range of bus lines. If you’re staying downtown and around the Boardwalk, you can easily walk the short distances.
Of course there are also taxis and rideshare apps easily available in the city, if you need to travel quickly for a longer distance. In the city center, you can also rent a bike and enjoy cycling in front of the seaside!
If you want to visit some of the surrounding areas of the city center that are also worth seeing, renting a car is the easiest option. There are plenty of car rental companies available at the airport or in the city itself. If you book in advance, you can get the best deal and compare the prices from different companies.
Best things to do during your holidays in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz has lots of amazing things to offer, and most involve the sea! The coastline of Santa Cruz is filled with exciting attractions and things to do!
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
The famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is famous for its colorful ocean beachfront, but also for the fun amusement park that you can visit here. The Boardwalk itself is free of admission, so you can enjoy a stroll along the beautiful oceanfront. To visit the seaside amusement park tickets range between 40 USD and 100 USD, depending on what you want to experience. There is a big variety of super fun rides, right in front of the sea. This makes it one of the most popular amusement parks in the US!
Santa Cruz Wharf
The Santa Cruz Wharf was built in 1914 and is still a popular tourist attraction in Santa Cruz until today. Along the pier you will find lots of different shops, restaurants, fishing options and boat tour operators. The wharf is quite big and during high-season it can get rather busy. Enjoy watching the colorful life of Santa Cruz while enjoying the view over the sea at one of the beautiful restaurants on the Wharf. It is actually the longest pier of the West Coast, and definitely worth a visit during your stay in Santa Cruz!
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is a great example of how marine biology can be made accessible to the public, especially families, without contributing to animal suffering by keeping marine mammals in tanks. The Center is run by the University of California, and offers changing exhibitions and events. The aim is to educate the public about the importance of research to preserve our oceans and marine life. It’s great for families with kids, and offers a lot of exciting activities and discoveries.
The best watersports in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is famous for one thing - surfing! No wonder that there is even a surf brand named after the Californian town. If you’re visiting Santa Cruz and looking for a surf class, look no further!
We have surf classes of all kinds with local instructors who will be happy to help you catch some of the famous waves of Santa Cruz. Whether you want a private class for you, you and your partner or group of friends, we got you covered.
In Santa Cruz we even offer surf classes for corporate events and big groups. Did you know that surfing together is a great team building exercise? Try it out now during your stay in Santa Cruz!
One very special offer we have in Santa Cruz is surfing with Bud Freitas. Bud Freitas is a local legend in the Santa Cruz surfing scene, and he even competed internationally. Surfing with such an icon of surfing in California is a true honor and he will be happy to show you some of his surf secrets and share some exciting stories about the surf biz.
What and where to eat in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is a true Californian city when it comes to food - local fresh produce, healthy smoothies and bowls, and influences from all over the world. In Santa Cruz, you can find lots of really good food and eat a lot without having to feel bad!
Laili Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Santa Cruz, and offers a delicious fusion of Afghan and Mediterranean cuisine. This restaurant is a fine dining experience, where tourists and locals alike enjoy the fresh and innovative food.
Another great spot for local cuisine in Santa Cruz is Walnut Avenue Cafe. Here you can enjoy a delicious Brunch or Breakfast, offering a variety of sweet and savory choices. If you come here on a weekend be prepared to wait a bit for a table, because this Cafe is super popular and one of the best rated in Santa Cruz.
At the famous Santa Cruz Wharf, you can enjoy some of the freshest seafood of the city at the Stagnaro Brothers Seafood. Here you can not only enjoy a huge selection of local seafood, but also the stunning view over the sea right from the wharf. At night, the atmosphere sitting over the water is even more special!
Enjoy the beautiful beaches around Santa Cruz
The West Coast of California is one of the most amazing places with stunning beaches. Around Santa Cruz you will find some unique places for a day at the beach!
Natural Bridges State Beach
The Natural Bridges State Beach is part of a protected State Park area, also because of its population of rare monarch butterflies. They can be seen between October and July, and it’s a unique sight. Besides that, the small and secluded beach is also famous for the fascinating rock formations, that look like a natural bridge coming out of the sea. Swimming at Natural Bridges State Beach is rather dangerous due to the strong currents, but depending on the tide you will find some tide pools at the beach to refresh yourself. If you like untouched nature, you will love this pristine little beach.
Capitola Beach is the heart of the little fisherman village Capitola, in close proximity to Santa Cruz. It’s a very popular seaside destination, and the protected little beach is a very popular spot. The beautiful surroundings of the beach, the calm and crystal clear waters and the little wharf make for a truly picturesque picture. Relax at the sandy beach, or grab a surfboard to catch your first waves. Thanks to the protected bay, the waves here are usually rather soft, perfect for beginner surfers and swimmers. Just behind the beach you also have a lot of infrastructure and even live music during the summer months.
Santa Cruz Main Beach
Santa Cruz Main Beach is located right next to the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which makes it a very lively and popular beach. The waters at Main Beach are quite warm compared to the rest of the coast, and during summer there is quite some buzz at the beach. Beach Volleyball, surfing, sunbathing - people love Main Beach for a lot of reasons! Families in particular love this beach, as you can come here after spending some hours in the amusement park right next to the beach!
Whatever you decide to do during your holiday in Santa Cruz, we promise you will love the boat tours and watersports. Sunshine and a lot of fun are guaranteed! For any further tips or requests, feel free to contact us anytime.