A few blocks from the beach lays Santa Cruz’s downtown area. The pedestrian-friendly, quaint streets are a wonderful mix of beach town, college town and uptown, with vibrant shops, galleries, breweries, bistros and boutiques commingling and embracing “the Original Surf City’s” free-spirited personality.
Those who enjoy outdoor recreation will find no better place to play than Santa Cruz, one of the few areas where a trail can begin in a redwood forest and end at the beach. Surfing is the name of the game, but there’s plenty of fun to be had without a board as well. State parks (14 in total) offer hundreds of miles of hiking trails, mountain meadows and redwood groves. For avid cyclists, the 100-mile Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge is one of the most physically demanding rides in the western United States.
With a bustling wine region, there is a thriving wine culture providing fun and entertaining events throughout the year and an array of local restaurants offer wine and food pairings. For those who enjoy cooking at home, the area’s natural bounty can be found at one of the many farmers’ markets (Santa Cruz County hosts at least one nearly every day).
Educational opportunities range from public, private and charter schools to one of the state’s most notable higher institutions, University of California, Santa Cruz.