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Where To Stay in Santa Cruz California: The Ultimate guide by areas

Santa Cruz is a vibrant and picturesque coastal city located on the northern edge of Monterey Bay in California. Known for its idyllic beaches, towering redwoods, and a laid-back California vibe, Santa Cruz attracts visitors from all over the world. You could easily spend a day hiking another at boardwalk. Another day visiting amazing restaurants or just a whole weekend visiting its different beautiful beaches.

This city is a popular destination for beach goers, surfers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts, offering a wealth of outdoor activities and attractions. In addition to its natural beauty, Santa Cruz boasts a lively downtown area, filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. With its unique blend of stunning scenery, eclectic culture, and endless recreational opportunities, Santa Cruz is a must-visit destination on the California coast.

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Where to stay in Santa Cruz CA by areas 

Santa Cruz is beautiful and with so many attractions in different areas so depends on your preferences this guide will help you to stay close to your favorite Santa Cruz attraction.

The city is divided into several distinct neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and character.

The Westside is home to the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf, as well as some of the city’s most popular beaches. The Downtown area is a bustling commercial district with many shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as historic landmarks such as the Santa Cruz Mission and the Museum of Art and History.

Areas as boardwalk and main beach and Cowell beach get packed. This area is where you find the most expensive hotels while the most budget friendly hotel are close to the freeway entrance by Ocean street.

The Eastside is known for its natural beauty, with miles of hiking and biking trails in the nearby mountains and state parks. The Pleasure Point neighborhood is a popular spot for surfing and beachcombing, with many beachfront cafes and shops.

Other areas in Santa Cruz include the University District, home to the University of California Santa Cruz, and the neighborhoods of Live Oak, Capitola, and Aptos.

Capitola is a picturesque coastal village known for its colorful Mediterranean-style architecture, sandy beach. Today, it is a charming and family-friendly community with a variety of shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities. Capitola also could be the perfect destination for a relaxing beach vacation or a romantic getaway.

A little bit farther is Aptos, another charming area in Santa Cruz County, known for its picturesque beaches, stunning redwood forests, and relaxed coastal lifestyle. With a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, excellent dining options, and a welcoming community.

However if you come from Highway 17 you will first encounter Scotts Valley, this part of Santa Cruz county is close to the Santa Cruz Mountains, about six miles inland from the coast of Santa Cruz. Known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, Scotts Valley is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, and camping. It also has a growing business community and serves as a commuter town for nearby Silicon Valley.

Where to stay in Santa Cruz California in the West side:

The west cliff area is a busy area and a scenic area in Santa Cruz, California, that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. And access to Natural Bridges State Park but close enough to the boardwalk. A super walkable area.

West Cliff Inn A four sisters Inn: 

If you are looking for luxury but intimate stay this place is for you. This is a boutique hotel in a Victorian-style bed and breakfast located in the West Cliff area of Santa Cruz, just steps away from the ocean.

The inn features a wraparound porch with views of the ocean, comfortable rooms with elegant furnishings, and a complimentary breakfast each morning. It is a popular choice for visitors to Santa Cruz who are looking for a cozy and comfortable place to stay with convenient access to the beach and other local attractions.

It has just 9 guest rooms, each individually decorated with elegant furnishings and cozy bedding, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests. And offers Complimentary breakfast. Also, the inn hosts an afternoon wine and cheese reception for guests, providing a chance to mingle with other guests while enjoying local wines and snacks.

You can book it here

Sea and Sand Inn: 

The Sea & Sand Inn is a situated on a bluff overlooking the Monterey Bay, with direct beach access via a nearby staircase. 

The hotel has 22 guest rooms and suites, most of which offer views of the ocean. The rooms are decorated in a casual, beach-inspired style and feature modern amenities include a rooftop terrace with panoramic ocean views.  Note that the rooms can be on the smaller side, but overall, guests seem to enjoy their stay at the hotel.

Also is pet friendly and it is also known for its friendly and helpful staff, who are happy to provide recommendations for local restaurants, activities, and attractions. 

You can book it here

Seaway Inn:

The Seaway Inn is a great option closer to West cliff and boardwalk. The hotel is just a short walk from the beach, with access via a nearby staircase. Just with 22 guest rooms and suites, all of which are non-smoking and feature a private balcony or patio. Room amenities include flat-screen TVs, mini-refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers.

In addition, the hotel offers a complimentary continental breakfast each morning and has heated outdoor pool and a hot tub, a fitness center, and a barbecue area.

You can book here

Where to Stay in Santa Cruz Close to Boardwalk

Also close to popular Cowell beach. A great small sandy beach with wave perfect for beginners’ surfers. You will find surf schools here. Also, a good place for swimming and some swimming clubs run here!

Boardwalk is one of the main attractions in Santa Cruz and these hotels are in very short walk distance to it.

Dream In:

It is a Boutique hotel by Cowell beach. It has a great restaurant jack O’Neil that is hard to bit by other hotels or restaurants. It has a luxury modern feeling and idealist view.  I personally love their brunch juts going there for special occasions is a gift!

It is one of the favorites for locals and tourist. This due to the great views of the boardwalk.

The Dream Inn has so many rooms with ocean view decorate with modern and colorful beach and surf style.  And it is walkable distance to boardwalk and to the West Cliff.

You can Book it here

Casablanca Inn:

The Casablanca Inn is a historic bed and breakfast and with 10 unique guest rooms, each with its own character and decor. Rooms may feature amenities such as fireplaces, claw-foot tubs, and balconies with views of the ocean or the inn’s garden. It is in just a short walk from the beach and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The inn was built in 1906 and has been carefully restored to preserve its historic charm while also offering modern amenities. The inn’s decor includes antique furnishings, artwork, and other decorative touches.

It is a good destination either for family or romantic getaways. The inn also offers romance. Just note that the inn is a historic building and does not have an elevator. You should be prepared to climb stairs. Also, the hotel enforces quiet hours from 10 pm to 8 am to ensure a peaceful and restful environment for all guests. However, people noted that the rooms can be small, and that noise from other guests or street traffic can be a factor in some rooms.

You can book it here

Beach street Inn:

It is located directly across from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Pacific Ocean, making it a convenient choice for those who want to be close to the beach and boardwalk attractions. 

The hotel offers a variety of room types, including standard rooms, suites, and rooms with ocean views. Some rooms feature balconies or patios. Also, include beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas.

However, the hotel has limited on-site parking for an additional fee. In peak season is hard to find parking because is close to the boardwalk. Also, noted that the hotel can be noisy due to its proximity to the boardwalk and street traffic. So, make sure to you weight that when booking.

You can book it here

Where to stay in Santa Cruz best boutique hotel close to boardwalk:


It a unique boutique hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in a great location for those visiting Santa Cruz. With a range of amenities and stylish accommodations. The decor is sleek and modern, with clean lines and stylish furnishings. The hotel incorporates local and natural elements in its design, such as wood paneling and abstract artwork inspired by the nearby ocean and mountains.

It has 170 modern and stylish guest rooms and suites, each featuring plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, mini fridges, and Nespresso coffee makers. Some rooms also have balconies or terraces.

Has a great outdoor pool and hot tub, a restaurant and bar, a coffee shop, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city. It is within walking distance of popular attractions such as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the Pacific Garden Mall. Very well located It is also a short drive from scenic areas such as Natural Bridges State Beach and Wilder Ranch State Park.

You can book it here

Where to Stay in Santa Cruz for Modern and great access to everything

The Hyatt Place Santa Cruz:

This is a cute hotel. You can expect modern decor, comfortable accommodations as any other Hyatt and in a very central location. Is a good option for those looking for a hotel a convenient location in downtown Santa Cruz within walking distance of numerous restaurants, shops, and attractions. Also is a short drive from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and other local beaches.

You can find here contemporary artwork and unique design elements, such as a living plant wall in the lobby and colorful murals in the guest rooms. These elements add a unique and artistic touch to the hotel’s overall decor.

It is a bigger hotel with 106 guest rooms and suites, each equipped with a cozy corner sleeper sofa, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and flat-screen TV. Also offers free Wi-Fi access and complimentary breakfast. Also, fitness center, an outdoor pool, a 24-hour business center, and a coffee and cocktail bar. And a pet-friendly policy.

You can book it here


The Hampton Inn Santa Cruz is located close to the Hyatt.  It is also conveniently located near downtown Santa Cruz, where there are numerous restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. And a good option for those looking for a comfortable and convenient hotel in Santa Cruz. 

With 46 guest rooms and suites, each equipped with a mini-fridge, microwave, and flat-screen TV. The hotel also offers free Wi-Fi access and complimentary breakfast. Also, the hotel features a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a 24-hour business center, and a lobby with a fireplace. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle service to downtown Santa Cruz and the beach area.

You can book it here

Where to stay in Santa Cruz in Soquel area

Chaminade resort:

Chaminade Resort & Spa is a special place to me. I love visiting during special occasions because it has a restaurant with beautiful view and unique location and great brunch for any holiday occasions.

where to stay in Santa Cruz California Chaminade resort

And of course, as a hotel I have stay here once but I know many people that visit out of town and stay here for a relaxing weekend. Its location is so scenic, and have luxurious amenities, as the spa.

What is unique about Chaminade Resort is located on 300 acres of redwood forest!  and has its own trail for hiking the Santa Cruz Mountains. The resort’s natural setting makes it a peaceful and serene place to stay, while still being close to local attractions like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and downtown Santa Cruz.

The range of accommodations go from standard guest rooms to private villas. Many of the rooms feature balconies or patios with views of the surrounding mountains or forest. 

In addition, the resort has two on-site restaurants, Linwood’s Bar & Grill and Sunset Restaurant, both of which offer a range of fresh, locally sourced cuisine. The resort also has a full-service bar and lounge, The Terrace, which offers drinks and small bites with views of the surrounding mountains.

You can book it here

Where To Stay in Santa Cruz if you want to be close to Capitola:

Venetian hotel a boutique hotel:

This adorable hotel it is a landmark in Capitola. It features a row of colorful Mediterranean-style cottages that were built in the 1920s. The cottages have been restored and updated with modern amenities and are now available as vacation rentals. They are private and secluded, with their own outdoor patios or decks so it is super family friendly.

It is in the heart of Capitola making it super convenient if you want to enjoy everything that Capitola beautiful area offers, as beach and the town’s restaurants and shops.

You can book it here

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott:

It is located on 41st Avenue in Capitola, California. It has comfortable accommodations and outdoor pool. Close to the Capitola Mall, Capitola Beach, and other local attractions.

The hotel has been recently renovated and updated with modern furnishings and decor, making for a comfortable and stylish stay. 

You can book it here

Pleasure Point Motel In:

This is a nice small motel with comfortable amenities in the heart of the iconic surf area called Pleasure Point. If you coming to Santa Cruz because the surf and beach this is a perfect relaxing hotel to stay. Some of the rooms also have private balconies with ocean views.

In addition, the Pleasure Point Inn has a rooftop terrace where you can relax and enjoy the ocean views. The hotel is also just a short walk away from the famous Pleasure Point surf spot, where you can catch some waves or simply soak up the California sun.

You can Book it here

Where to Stay in Santa Cruz in Aptos

Seascape Beach Resort

Seascape Resort is a full-service resort located in Aptos, California, about a 10-minute drive from Capitola. It has guest rooms, suites, and private villas, all with ocean or garden views to choose from.

It has three outdoor beautiful swimming pools and hot tub, and a fitness center, and several dining options. I love of this resort that offers golf carts that takes you to the beach.

One of the unique features of Seacliff Inn is its proximity to the historic Seacliff State Beach and the nearby concrete ship, which is a popular local attraction. The hotel also offers easy access to several local wineries, golf courses, and hiking trails.

Book it here

Where to stay in Santa Cruz in Boulder Creek, Brookdale, and Scott Valley

Brookdale Lodge:

This is a historic hotel located in Brookdale, California, about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz. The lodge was built in the 1920s and has a unique charm with its rustic setting and creek-side location.

One of the most unique features of the Brookdale Lodge is its famous “Dining Room of the Redwoods,” which features a creek running right through the middle of the room. The lodge was also once a popular spot for celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, President Hoover, and President Roosevelt.

Over the years, the hotel has had its share of challenges, including a fire in 2009 that destroyed much of the main building. The lodge was later renovated and reopened in 2019 with updated guest rooms, a new restaurant and bar, and restored features such as the fireplace and the creek running through the dining room. Today, the Brookdale Lodge is a popular destination for those seeking a unique, rustic getaway in the redwoods.

Book it here

Mount Hermon tree house:

It is a unique lodging option located in Mount Hermon, about 6 miles north of Santa Cruz. The tree house is a part of the Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center and offers guests a one-of-a-kind experience in the trees.

The tree house features a living area, kitchenette, bathroom, and loft bedroom with a queen-sized bed. There is also a small deck where guests can enjoy the view of the surrounding redwood forest. The tree house is elevated about 25 feet off the ground and is accessed via a spiral staircase.

Guests staying at the Mount Hermon Tree House can also enjoy the amenities of the Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center, such as hiking trails, a pool, and a ropes course. The tree house is a popular option for couples and those seeking a unique and secluded getaway in the trees.

Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley

This hotel is situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just off Highway 17, and You can access to both the natural beauty of the area and the attractions of downtown Santa Cruz.

The Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley features 178 guest rooms and suites, many with mountain or forest views. The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, and an on-site restaurant serving California-inspired cuisine. There is also a business center and meeting space available for events and conferences.

You can Book it here

Budget Friendly Ocean street For Budget Options

Ocean Pacific Lodge 

It is a budget-friendly hotel located in the heart of Santa Cruz. One of the biggest draws of the Ocean Pacific Lodge is its location and situated just a block from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf, making it an ideal choice for those looking to enjoy the area’s beaches and attractions. The hotel is also within walking distance of downtown Santa Cruz, which features a variety of shops, restaurants, and nightlife options.

It has comfortable accommodations and a convenient location with 56 guest rooms and suites. Some rooms also include a kitchenette and a balcony with views of the city or the Santa Cruz Mountains.

You find here heated outdoor pool, hot tub, and a fitness center. The hotel also provides a complimentary continental breakfast each morning, and free on-site parking is available for guests.

You can book it here

Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East:

 This hotel is located within walking distance of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and offers affordable rates, basic rooms, and free breakfast.

You can book it here

Americas Best Value Inn & Suites Santa Cruz: 

This hotel is located just off Highway 1 and offers budget-friendly rates, basic rooms with amenities such as mini-fridges and microwaves, and free continental breakfast.

You can book it here

Frequent Questions about Santa Cruz California

Is there resort in Santa Cruz?

Yes, they are: Chaminade Resort & Spa, Hotel Paradox, Dream Inn Santa Cruz, and Seascape Beach Resort.

Should you stay in Santa Cruz or Capitola

It depends on your preferences and what you are looking for in a vacation. Santa Cruz is a larger city with more attractions, such as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Natural Bridges State Beach, while Capitola is a smaller, more relaxed beach town with a charming village and a picturesque beach. 

Capitola is also closer to some of the popular attractions in the southern part of the county, such as Aptos, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Carmel-by-the-Sea. I am sure you will have a great time on either place since they are to short driving distances.

How long should I stay in Santa Cruz?

The length of your stay depends on your personal preferences and the activities you plan to do. If you want to explore the city and the surrounding areas, a stay of 2-3 days may be sufficient. However, if you want to take a deep look into the natural beauty of Santa Cruz you could easily fill up 3 more days so it could be up to 6 days.

Also, if you to spend more time at the beach or visit nearby attractions such as Monterey Bay Aquarium or Big Sur, you may want to stay longer.

Is Santa Cruz worth seeing?

Yes, Santa Cruz is worth seeing. It has so many beautiful beaches, stunning redwood forests, a charming downtown area, and plenty of outdoor activities and good eatering and a great vibe you could enjoy. Whether you’re looking to surf, hike, bike, or just relax, you will find plenty to do!

What is Santa Cruz most known for?

Santa Cruz is known for its beautiful beaches, iconic boardwalk, amusement park rides, surf culture, redwood forests, natural bridges, marine life, and eclectic arts and music scene. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, and several historic landmarks and museums.

Are you wonder if Is it worth stopping in Santa Cruz?

The short answer is Yes, Santa Cruz is worth stopping. It has the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf, Natural Bridges State Beach, and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, among others. Additionally, the city has a vibrant culture and lively atmosphere, making it an enjoyable place for you to explore and experience.

What county is Santa Cruz California in?

Santa Cruz is a city and a county located on the central coast of California in the United States. The county of Santa Cruz is part of the larger metropolitan area of the San Francisco Bay Area and is located south of the city of San Francisco in the state of California.

Hotels in Santa Cruz California on the beach: 

The closest hotels by the beach are:

Dream Inn Santa Cruz – located just by Cowell Beach and offers direct access to the beach.

Venetian located right in Capitola beach.

Seascape Beach Resort right by Aptos beach

Santa Cruz luxury hotels

There are several luxury hotels in Santa Cruz that offer high-end amenities and services. Here is my favorite:

Chaminade Resort & Spa: This upscale resort is set on 300 acres of forested hillside and offers luxurious rooms, a spa, two outdoor pools, a fitness center, and multiple dining options.

Dream Inn: This oceanfront hotel features modern, stylish rooms with private balconies or patios, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant and bar with stunning views of the Monterey Bay.

Hotel Paradox: This trendy hotel offers sleek, contemporary rooms with luxurious amenities such as rainfall showerheads and plush bedding. Other amenities include an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a farm-to-table restaurant.

Seascape Beach Resort: This beachfront resort is in nearby Aptos and offers spacious villas with full kitchens, fireplaces, and ocean views. Amenities include a private beach, multiple pools, a fitness center, and a restaurant.

Santa Cruz California hotel near boardwalk

The hotel closets to the boardwalk are the Dream Inn Santa Cruz, the Beach Street Inn and Suites and Seaway Inn. However, there are others short distance as well but not as close.

Santa Cruz Luxury Hotels

There are several luxury hotels in Santa Cruz that offer high-end amenities and services. 

Chaminade Resort & Spa, Dream Inn, Hotel Paradox, Seascape Beach Resort and Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley are all Luxury hotels in the area.

I hope this help you to decide about where to stay in Santa Cruz California. Enjoy!

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I am Rocio

Hello there! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Rocio, and I’m a Latina mother with a wanderlust. I believe that family trips are important in forming well-rounded kids. Even when you have kids, you can still travel, so I help busy parents figure out how. Through my blog, Real world Mami, I want to give you tips that will help you plan epic trips to both well-known and less-known places around the world. Happy Travels!

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