If Santa Cruz County, California was a celebrity, it would no doubt have access to the most exclusive clubs behind the velvet rope. But that’s not the style in this laid-back, California beach town. Instead, Santa Cruz County chooses to share the joy of its status with countless visitors annually. From beaches to supermodels, Santa Cruz is tops on many “Best of” lists.
Santa Cruz was named one of 15 top U.S destinations on the rise by TripAdvisor in January 2012. Name checking the town as “one of America’s surfing capitals”, the website also made reference to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and “a beach whose waves are known all over the world”, in addition to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Natural Bridges State Park as “the places to be.
Many know that Santa Cruz offers the quintessential California beach vacation, and Yahoo Travel solidified that notion by naming it “One of the Great American Beach Towns” (and the only destination in California featured!)
Home to the birthplace of mainland surfing in the United States, Santa Cruz was ranked as the top surfing destination in the world (out of 10 chosen) by Surfing expert Alex Wade in the Times of London.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California’s oldest seaside amusement park built in 1907 as the Coney Island of the West Coast, made National Geographic’s list of the Top Ten Boardwalks in the nation.
Santa Cruz and Watsonville, a small rural town approximately 10 miles south of Santa Cruz, ranked number five on a list of the most artistic cities in the nation by Atlantic magazine. The area was described as a coastal location with long-standing artistic communities.
Santa Cruz made Food & Wine magazine’s list of the top 20 healthiest cities in the United States to visit, and cited the Seascape Beach Resort’s bamboo massages and organic plant facials, while La Posta restaurant was praised for its hyperlocal menu that includes eggs from backyard chickens.
Foodie-wise, Shadowbrook restaurant in Capitola was recognized by OpenTable® Diners’ Choice, as a 2012 Most Romantic Winner and included on their Nation’s Top 100 List of Romantic Restaurants.
The Atlantic magazine’s January 2012 issue named Santa Cruz as the second healthiest metropolitan area in the U.S., citing low obesity rates and few smokers, in addition to a lifestyle that supports being healthy and active.
In other campus news, the University of California at Santa Cruz made Out magazine’s list of the Best College Towns in the fall of 2011. The school’s progressive vibe was picked up by this LGBT-friendly publication.
Santa Cruz has long been known for its natural beauty, and the of Princeton Review’s Best 376 Colleges, ranked UC Santa Cruz as the third most beautiful college campus in the United States.
But Santa Cruz has beauty AND brains! On the educational side of things, UC Santa Cruz was hailed as one of the “Top Ten “Coolest Schools” in the U.S. by Sierra magazine, the official magazine of the environmentally-friendly Sierra Club. The school’s mascot, the Banana Slugs, fights against trash by eschewing dining trays and bottled water.
Are you banking on a college degree to land a well-paying job? Are you currently unattached? Santa Cruz ranked 25th on CNN.com/Money Magazine’s list of the Best Places to live for the Rich and Single!
All this exposure leads up to the next honor on the list: local Santa Cruzan Marissa Miller was featured in the E! Network’s special Top 10 Beach Bodies – and came in at #1! Among other career highlights, Marissa appeared in every Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue from 2002 to 2008.
Overall, Santa Cruz was honored with the title of one of the “50 Best Places to Live” by Men’s Journal magazine. So why not visit Santa Cruz and hit the beach? Who knows? You might just meet a supermodel!
Getting There: Santa Cruz County, California is located approximately 70 miles/113 km south of San Francisco and 349 miles/562 km from Los Angeles. Many visitors choose to take scenic Highway 1 along the California coastline to Santa Cruz, or Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Visitors can also choose to fly in to San Francisco International Airport or Mineta/San Jose International Airport.