Few places can rival Santa Cruz, CA for its well-rounded, family beach vacation atmosphere. Spend your days sunning on your vacation rental's private deck or patio, then take just a few steps in the sand to enjoy the vast, blue Pacific. Swim, kayak, sail, fish and windsurf in the morning, then mountain bike, hike, horseback ride, and enjoy the links during your afternoons. With breath-taking views of the Monetary Bay from your bedroom's balcony, spend your evenings watching the twinkling lights of the sea ships cruise by, and then let the lull of the ocean waves put you to sleep.
Santa Cruz is home to one of the best California boardwalks around, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is the perfect place for riding roller coasters, relaxing on the beach, and dining. With free admission and endless opportunities for fun, the Boardwalk is great for the entire family. Santa Cruz is also home to great local talent, and hosts a number of art fairs, music celebrations, film festivals and theatre performances.
Here are a few specific suggestions as you plan your trip:
-Take a ride on the "Big Dipper on Earth": This Santa Cruz landmark is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters around. Built in 1924, the ride takes you high into the sky to give you breath-taking views of the beach and the ocean amidst a Monterey Bay background.
-Witness the Monarch butterfly migration: Santa Cruz is world-renowned for the yearly migration of the Monarch butterfly. See thousands of beautiful butterflies who rest here during their peak season (October through January).
-Explore the Natural Bridges State Beach: The State Beach is famous for its natural bridge and an ideal place to see wildlife, including ocean birds, whales and otters. Low tides are perfect for finding sea stars and crabs too.
-Stroll the Santa Cruz Wharf: This is a great place to relax and people watch. Rest your feet in a cafe, rent a fishing pole, or browse local art shops and boutiques.
-Go horseback riding: Santa Cruz state parks, state beaches and the marshlands around Moore Creek are beautiful places to explore on horseback.
-Play on the beach: Twin Lakes Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Santa Cruz. Come here to take a surf lesson, rent a kayak, or just lie in the sun and relax.
Find the right house rental within a few steps of the Santa Cruz California Boardwalk and start planning the perfect vacation getaway. Camping in Santa Cruz is a beautiful way to spend a night under the stars, but nothing beats coming home at the end of a day of sun and sand to your own luxurious villa with views of the ocean.
Are you planning an important celebration, family reunion, wedding or honeymoon? Vacation rental opportunities are plentiful all year round in idyllic Santa Cruz wedding locations. Find a perfect vacation home within a few steps of the beach and invite your family and friends for a campfire on the sand or a barbeque on the deck. While you're visiting Santa Cruz, be sure to explore some of the other beautiful vacation destinations along the central coast, like Monterey and Newport Beach.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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