About Santa Cruz

About Santa Cruz


For beach living at its best and a laid-back California lifestyle, Santa Cruz can’t be beat. The city of Santa Cruz, California is situated on the sunny, northern part of Monterey Bay on California’s prestigious central coast.  

Santa Cruz is located about 74 miles south of San Francisco and 30 miles from San Jose, the heart of California’s famous Silicon Valley. Scenic Highway 1 runs through Santa Cruz County, overlooking the shores of the Pacific.  


Santa Cruz County is a narrow strip, about ten miles wide, between the Pacific coast and the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A mountainous terrain characterizes most of the county, with some coastal lowlands and sandy beaches. Most of the coastline is flanked by cliffs, providing the coastal city of Santa Cruz with dramatic scenery.  

Santa Cruz County has a total area of 607 mi². 445 of it is land and 162 mi² of it is water. In fact, the total area of Santa Cruz County is 26.6% water.  


Mild weather, natural beauty, a major university, and proximity to the Silicon Valley contribute to the economic opportunities as well as the high quality of life in Santa Cruz. With an abundance of coastline, publicly accessible beaches, and nearby mountains, Santa Cruz County is a popular vacation and recreation area.  

The principal industries of Santa Cruz are agriculture, tourism, education (UCSC) and high technology. Santa Cruz is a center of the organic agriculture movement, and hosts the production of many specialty products. Tourist attractions include many wonderful beaches, the classic Santa Cruz Boardwalk on the beach, trails through the redwood forests, and unspoiled Monterey Bay, which is protected as a marine sanctuary.  

The best known local high-tech companies are Borland Software, Raytek Corporation, Seagate Technology, and Plantronics. Giro bicycle helmets, The Santa Cruz Guitar Company, The Good Earth Tea, and Erik's Deli Cafe are also headquartered in Santa Cruz. The statistical breakdown of industries providing employment is as follows: educational, health and social services (27.1%), professional, scientific, management, administrative (12.9%), arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services (11.7%), retail trade (10.7%).  

In recent years, because of its proximity to Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz has supported a large high-technology population. Many workers from Silicon Valley live in Santa Cruz County. 


The real estate market in Santa Cruz features a wide variety of housing styles from Cape Cod and Mediterranean to cozy log cabins and one-of-a-kind estate properties, many offering ocean and city light views. Condominium and townhome prices begin in the mid-$300,000s and reach up to $1 million and more for homes with ocean and city views. The median price of a home in Santa Cruz is $775,000. Land is also available for custom home building.  


Santa Cruz is definitely a tourist destination. Almost every weekend of the year has at least one event, from Woodies on the Wharf to surf, kayak, or outrigger contests to Clam Chowder Cookoffs to high school band competitions.  

Santa Cruz is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream-come-true. The city of Santa Cruz boasts 22 neighborhood parks, and many state parks dot the region. The diversity of the parks in the Santa Cruz area is remarkable. Within a relatively short period of time, you can walk from the shoreline of the beautiful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and into the cool haven of majestic redwoods. The Santa Cruz area has over 200 miles of trails, miles of public beaches, rock climbing opportunities, surf shops and so much more.  

Natural Bridges State Beach is world-renowned for its yearly migration of monarch butterflies. Visitors can observe thousands during the butterflies' peak season, usually from mid-October to late January.  

New Brighton State Beach is one of the most popular and most visited state beaches in California. This 93-acre park along the gorgeous coast of Santa Cruz offers spectacular views of the Monterey Bay. It is famous for its family-oriented campground, which sits atop towering bluffs high above the shoreline.  

The Henry Cowell Redwoods State park features 15 miles of hiking and riding trails through a forest that looks nearly as pristine as it did 200 years ago. The park is the home of the Redwood Grove, and has a self-guided nature path to help you recognize the Douglas fir, madrone, oak and Ponderosa pine living in the park.  

Santa Cruz County is home to several world-class championship golf courses. Surrounded by the gorgeous Santa Cruz coast and mountains, these top-designed golf courses offer challenging holes, panoramic vistas, and national tournaments.  

Pasatiempo Golf Club was designed by world-renowned golf architect Alister MacKenzie and was rated as one of the top 100 courses in the United States by Golf Digest. The course is nestled in the rolling hills above Santa Cruz, offering scenic vistas of the beautiful Monterey Bay.  

De Laveaga Golf Course is a narrow 18-hole championship golf course that sits up on a hill, offering some gorgeous views of the ocean. The condition of the course is great, considering it is one of the busiest in the area. It has hosted the California State Open Tournament three times. De Laveaga offers full service golfing, a restaurant, cocktail lounge and night-lighted driving range. In addition, DeLaveaga boasts a challenging disc golf course for Frisbee enthusiasts.  

Additional top-notch golf courses include: Seascape Golf Club, Boulder Creek Golf and Country Club, Pajaro Valley Golf Club, Spring Hills Golf Course, and Valley Gardens Golf Course.  

There’s no doubt about it – water sports are extremely popular in Santa Cruz! With miles of beautiful beaches, there is something for everybody. There is a long history of surfing in Santa Cruz. In fact, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum tracks 100 years of surfing glory in the area. Today, there are numerous surf schools and places to try kayaking and wind surfing. Santa Cruz Harbor and Yacht Club also offer opportunities for boaters and sailors, either as passengers or as pilots.  

Santa Cruz Beach is a popular beach with fantastic waves, and is known as one of the top surfing spots in the world. Cowell’s Beach is one of the best and most popular beaches in the United States for learning to surf. Waddell beach is a windy beach that is good for hang-gliding and wind-surfing. Whether you are a spectator on the beach, a novice trying to catch your first wave or an expert wave rider, Santa Cruz is an ocean lover’s paradise.  

If you’re a climber, Pacific Edge is a large, state-of-the-art climbing gym with climbing challenges for all ages and skill levels, as well as a starting point for guided outdoor climbing adventures.  

Special Attractions/Events

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a popular family-oriented attraction. The Boardwalk is a half-mile long historic amusement park adjacent to Santa Cruz’s mile long main beach. It includes more than 34 amusement type rides, dozens of restaurants, shops, games, indoor arcades and mini golf.  

Just within walking distance of the Boardwalk is the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, a drive-on wharf with ample parking and a nice variety of restaurants, shops, fresh fish markets, and fishing. Don’t miss the famous Surfing Museum about a half mile west of the Boardwalk at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive.  

Santa Cruz’s Pacific Avenue, with its boutiques, movie theaters, coffee shops, bookstores, and art centers is a vibrant area of downtown Santa Cruz.  

From Santa Cruz, it is just a short drive up to the mountains for wine tasting and redwood hiking.  

Santa Cruz also hosts abundant opportunities for experiencing fine arts and culture. The Museum of Art and History in downtown Santa Cruz is all about visual culture. The Museum is open all year long with four distinct galleries on three floors with exhibits, family activities, tours, education programs, historical archives, film series and lectures.  

In addition, the galleries at UCSC and Cabrillo College regularly display outstanding artwork and showcase student work yearly. The Santa Cruz Art League and the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center both display the work of local artists, as do Many Hands Gallery and Artisans’, both in Santa Cruz.  

While visiting Santa Cruz, make it a point to check out the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at the Long Marine Laboratory, a research and education facility of the University of California. The lab serves as a base for field research in Monterey Bay and the ocean beyond. The Monterey Bay is one of the richest marine environments in the world. The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is an excellent place to learn more about the rich biodiversity of the Monterey Bay.  

Interesting Facts/Historic Buildings and Places

Santa Cruz has a long history of human habitation. A Native American ethnic group called the Ohlone created fishing villages in the area beginning in 500 A.D. The Ohlone creation story began with a world covered entirely in water, apart from a single mountain peak on which Coyote, Hummingbird, and Eagle stood. The Ohlone gathered fruits and nuts plentiful in the region and fished for survival. This way of life was eventually encroached upon by Spanish explorers and missionaries.  

The parks in the area tell the story of the people who have inhabited the region over time. From the native Ohlone peoples, to the missionaries, and the early settlers you can discover each of their stories through historic structures, artifacts and great interpretive programs  

In 1769 a Spanish explorer came upon the area now known as the City of Santa Cruz. He called the rolling hills there Santa Cruz, which means holy cross. Twenty-two years later, in 1791, Father Fermin de Lasuen established a mission at Santa Cruz. This was to be the twelfth mission founded in California. By the 1820's Mexico had assumed control of the area and within the next twenty years, Americans began to arrive in great numbers. California became a state in 1849, and Santa Cruz County was created in 1850 as one of the twenty-seven original counties.  

By the turn of the century logging, lime processing, agriculture, and commercial fishing industries prospered in the area. Due to its mild climate and scenic beauty Santa Cruz also became a prominent resort community.  

Surfing came to Santa Cruz in the 1930s, and the local teens soon became hooked on the sport. They began building their own 60-90 pound long boards in the high school woodshop. At this time in history, there were no surf shops, wet suits, leashes, or surf music, etc. Surfing was a curious new passion that eventually swept across the country, leaving its mark on Santa Cruz as “Surf City USA”. The wetsuit was invented here by surfer Jack O’Neill, a local character and philanthropist.  

Santa Cruz County's towering redwoods have served as the backdrop for many of Hollywood's earliest westerns. Filmmaking in Santa Cruz County began in 1910, and by 1926, more than 100 movies had been made using Santa Cruz locations. More recently, the film “The Lost Boys” featured The Santa Cruz Boardwalk and mountains as a backdrop for its story about teenage vampires. 

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Contact Information

Sandy Kaplan
Santa Cruz Properties
100 Doyle Street, Suite H
Santa Cruz CA 95062