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Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California

Introduction to Santa Cruz, California

Situated on the northern part of Monterey Bay, the California city of Santa Cruz lies about 30 miles southwest of San Jose and 74 miles south of San Francisco. Incorporated in 1866, the city is the county seat for the County of Santa Cruz. The principal industries of Santa Cruz are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and education (University of California at Santa Cruz is located here). The city’s proximity to Silicon Valley has in recent years also brought an influx of workers in high-tech industries into Santa Cruz and its surrounding towns.

Santa Cruz was founded in 1769 by Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola, who named the area after the Spanish name for “Holy Cross”. In the late 1800s, agriculture, logging, lime processing, and commercial fishing were the thriving industries. By the turn of the century, tourism took hold as a major industry and prospered to this day, thanks to the city’s scenic beauty, mild climate, abundant sunshine, and 29 miles of coastline. The quintessential beach town often referred to as “Surf City” (despite the fact that Huntington Beach trademarked the moniker), Santa Cruz lays claim to being the place where Hawaiian royalty first introduced surfing to the U.S. mainland.

Things to do in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is famous for its beaches and for the sport of surfing. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, traces more than a century worth of surfing history associated with Santa Cruz. Museum visitors enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the Monterey Bay while overlooking the famed surfing site known as Steamer Lane. The Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the West Coast’s last remaining seaside amusement park, offers more than 30 rides, arcades, food, an indoor miniature golf course and over 15 gift shops. The Cocoanut Grove complex hosts trade shows, conventions, conferences, parties, banquets and more. The Santa Cruz Wharf is famous for its views of marine mammals, its fishing, and other recreational activities.

Included among the cultural offerings in Santa Cruz is the annual summer festival held by Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Typical performances include two Shakespeare plays and one other play. Some of the performances take place in a unique outdoor space among the redwoods. Santa Cruz is also home to the Cabrillo Music Festival. Local Santa Cruz museums include the Natural History Museum and the Surfing Museum.

The nearby city of San Jose, located only a half-hour away, is home to a number of its own attractions. A few of the more prominent are the Winchester Mystery House, the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, the Children’s Discovery Museum, and the History Museum of San Jose. Sports fans can see Minor League Baseball action (Triple-A’s San Jose Giants), Arena Football League action (San Jose SaberCats), and the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks.

Fans of alternative sports will recognize Santa Cruz as home to the De Laveaga Disc Golf Course, which hosts several PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) tournaments, including the annual Masters Cup. De Laveaga was the host venue for the disc golf and discathon World Disc Games overall event held in July 2005. The event was sanctioned by the WFDF (World Flying Disc Federation).

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