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4 Ways to Stay in Santa Cruz, California

When you plan a getaway to adventurous Santa Cruz, picking your lodging is half the fun.

From coastal campgrounds to elegant digs surrounded by towering redwoods, this laid-back central California city has it all.

Dreaming of life on the coast? This spring, Visit Santa Cruz County is giving away a two night, three day stay in Santa Cruz. The winner will receive a stay in a two-bedroom condo at Pajaro Dunes Resort, a $150 gift certificate to Capitola Village, a craft bar experience for four at Annieglass Studios, and four tickets each to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Roaring Camp Railroads. Enter here to win!

For those of us who don't win, it's time to start making some plans. We talked with our friends at Visit Santa Cruz to get the lowdown on where to stay in Santa Cruz County.

1. A Night Under the Stars

Photo by Garrick Ramirez // Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County

Camping options abound in Santa Cruz, running the gamut from the truly wild to the wild at heart.

For an offbeat option, check out the surf-themed KOA campground in Watsonville. In addition to spots for wheeled campers and tents, this KOA offers Airstreams for nightly rental along with regular and glamping cabins.

Oceanfront camping is available at state beaches along the coast, including Manresa, Sunset, Seacliff, and New Brighton. Those who prefer forests and mountains to crashing waves will find spots to call their own in the state parks of Henry Cowell Redwoods, Big Basin Redwoods, Castle Rocks, and Nisene Marks.

2. Coastal Inns

Photo by Garrick Ramirez // Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County

Quaint and well-appointed inns, where you're sure to find a welcoming face and a comfortable bed, can be found throughout Santa Cruz County. 

The historic West Cliff Inn has ten lovely guest rooms, many with ocean views, and guests will enjoy included full breakfast as well as the afternoon wine and snacks. Another great spot is the Inn at Depot Hill in charming Capitola. Once a train depot, the Inn now the perfect place from which to explore the Santa Cruz coastline.

3. Upscale Comfort

Photo Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz's resort and upscale hotels offer comfortable accommodations in beautiful locations up and down the coast. 

Beach lovers will want to check out the Dream Inn, a beachfront hotel on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The views are spectacular, and you'll be right in the center of the action.

Inland, the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley is a mountain retreat tucked in the redwoods, and still only ten minutes to the beach. Other options include Chaminade Resort & Spa and Seascape Beach Resort.

4. More Options

Photo Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County

Still don't see what you're looking for? Don't worry, there's a place in Santa Cruz for you. Check out these 15 Dreamy Vacation Rentals in Santa Cruz County and The Best Pet-Friendly Hotels in Santa Cruz County.

Additional Info

Looking things to do in Santa Cruz? Check out 5 Experiences for Your Unforgettable Trip to Santa Cruz County, California.

Want an off-the-beaten path place to grab a bite, give one of these 3 Ways to Fuel Your Days in Santa Cruz a try. 

Cover photo courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Sara SheehyAdmin

Writer | Nomad