What do you get when you combine redwoods, roller coasters, and beautiful beaches with the best surf in the country? You get Santa Cruz, California! This gem on the California Coast, just 75 miles south of San Francisco, is known for its laid back vibes and stunning scenery. Ride one of the oldest coasters in the world, or discover the “mystery” behind the famous Mystery Spot.
Santa Cruz sits on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, about 75 mi (120 km) south of San Francisco. Santa Cruz is known for its moderate climate, natural environment, coastline, redwood forests, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating continuously since 1907.
The present-day site of Santa Cruz was the location of Spanish settlement beginning in 1791, including Mission Santa Cruz and the pueblo of Branciforte. Following the Mexican–American War of 1846–48, California became the 31st state in 1850. The City of Santa Cruz was incorporated in 1866 and chartered in April 1876. Important early industries included lumber, gunpowder, lime and agriculture. Late in the 19th century, Santa Cruz established itself as a beach resort community.