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Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz CountyWhere is Santa Cruz County?

Bordered by the Monterey Bay, the Pacific Ocean, the and the coastal ranges, Santa Cruz County is filled with natural beauty and a unique and vibrant community.

The county is made up of four cities (Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Scotts Valley, and Capitola), 26 census-designated places, and unincorporated communities. Santa Cruz is the county seat, though Watsonville boasts a larger population. Neighborhoods vary wildly, from remote forest cabins to urban townhomes, from luxurious beachside mansions to tiny lowland bungalows, with styles ranging from stately Queen Anne Victorians and mid-century head-scratchers to contemporary smart homes.

Parts of Santa Cruz County are sometimes included in descriptions of Silicon Valley, but it can be a bit of a trek for commuters, especially if  highway 17 gets jammed up at the pass. The road can be treacherous, especially in icy or stormy weather, and it’s not unusual to hear about mudslides after a particularly heavy rainfall.

Work and Play

For many residents of the Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz County is an extremely popular summer destination with beautiful sandy beaches, icy salt water, and the cool redwoods. The Beach Boardwalk is a must-see attraction with a historic roller coaster, arcade, fresh saltwater taffy, free beach concerts and much more. The beaches of Santa Cruz County are reknown in the surfing community, and you can even find a small surf museum under a lighthouse on the cliff. The Wharf, Mystery Spot, and Roaring Camp are some other popular destinations for daytrippers. Of course all this fun in the sun can cause traffic congestions en route to the beach.

But it’s not all fun and games. The county is also known for the respected UC Santa Cruz (go Banana Slugs!), established in 1965 and very much an institution of it’s era which still draws a community of activists and alternative culture. With an amazing and varied climate it’s no surprise that agriculture is the top industry of the area, with award-winning vineyards and vibrant celebrations such as Watsonville’s annual Strawberry Festival.


Learn more about some of the wonderful communities in this California county through the links below: