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Where else can you ride a vintage wooden roller coaster but at the renowned Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; walk out a half-mile into the waters of the Monterey Bay on the century-old Santa Cruz Wharf; or visit a surfing museum housed inside a lighthouse overlooking Steamer Lane, one of the best places in the United States to surf?

For beginners, surf instructors provide wetsuits and surfboards and get you up on the waves. Once you’re ready, grab your big stick and head to one of Santa Cruz County’s mellow beaches and experience what “Surf City” is all about.

See the surfing spirit at Lighthouse Point, where surfers glide over the waves. Another great surf spot is Pleasure Point, where experienced wave riders challenge themselves at “The Hook."

A mere 90 minutes south of San Francisco and 30 minutes north of Monterey Bay, California’s Highway 1 passes straight through Santa Cruz County. The most famous scenic drive in California, this legendary highway offers unobstructed coastal vistas, wineries, Mission Santa Cruz and the downtown area. South of Santa Cruz are the picturesque towns of Capitola, Soquel and Aptos. Farther south, you’ll pass strawberry fields through Watsonville.

Santa Cruz offers a diversity of landscapes. Home to 14 state parks and beaches, visitors can experience old-growth coastal redwood forests aboard a vintage steam train, spot gray and humpback whales by boat or kayak as they migrate through the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, explore tide pools or even wander a eucalyptus grove where thousands of monarchs butterflies spend their winters.

Santa Cruz County’s landscape enhances its food and wine scene. Rich, sandy soil combined with warm, sunny days and cool, foggy nights create one of the most distinctive geographical areas in California. The culinary movement begins at the farmers' markets. Menus are created in harmony with the seasons to highlight locally grown items at their peak. The wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation region rank among the best in the country. In fact, this is one of the USA's oldest wine growing regions, home to over 70 boutique, family-owned wineries. The tasting experience is unique as well in local wineries, where winemakers are in the tasting room with visitors, allowing for a more personal experience.

From coastal redwood forests to the sparkling blue Monterey Bay, plus over 300 days of sunshine a year, Santa Cruz is always in season. 

Fun Fact

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the USA's oldest amusement park.
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The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the USA's oldest amusement park.

Aerial view of Asheville, North Carolina
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