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Santa Cruz

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  • Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz, located on the northern edge of Monterey Bay 75 miles south of San Francisco and 32 miles from San Jose boasts redwood forests and a stunning coastline and is known as one of America’s surfing capitals.

    • Natural Bridge Beach

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    • Santa Cruz Boardwalk

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    • Mountain Cliff Sunset

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    Santa Cruz County beaches offer the perfect setting for seaside fun. Whether you enjoy surfing, playing beach volleyball, or hiking along the coastal bluffs. Spend the day sailing, kayaking, surfing, paddling or head out further into the ocean for a fising trip or whale watching. Spend some time with the kids enjoying the amusements on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with over 35 rides, restaurants and shopping.

    Santa Cruz County is one of the few places where a trail can begin in a redwood forest and end on the beach. Hiking trails wind past majestic old-growth redwoods and graceful waterfalls at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Wilder Ranch State Park, and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Santa Cruz County has 14 state parks in all, including Natural Bridges State Beach, Manresa State Beach.

    With over 70 wineries and tasting rooms, the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation is one of the oldest wine regions in the United States, known for award-winning pinot noir and other wines.

    From quaint shops in Downtown Santa Cruz to specialty shops in Capitola Village and the Capitola Mall beyond town, to antique shopping in Soquel Village and Aptos, there is something for everyone.

    Check out a hip bistro serving modern California cuisine, a neighborhood café, a sunny outdoor terrace with a view of the Monterey Bay or a gourmet fine dining restaurant. You will be spoiled for choice.

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    • Top Tip 1

      Everyone should drive Highway 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway, but our tip is to do it from north to south. Whichever direction you take the scenery is stunning but you get a better view going south because you're on the ocean side of the road.

    • Top Tip 2

      Hearst Castle is a must-see stop as you drive along the coast, taking you back to the early days of Hollywood.

    • Top Tip 3

      Wine tasting tours are plentiful in Napa and Sonoma. Our favourites are Jordan's and Chalk Hill. Try the Library Tasting tour, a wine and cheese pairing at Jordan's and the Culinary Tour at Chalk Hill, a wine and food pairing prepared by Chef Didier. Both are exceptional experiences and amazing value.

    • Top Tip 4

      Visit the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. On Thursdays, from 6pm, enjoy music, cocktails and entertainment whist experiencing world class exhibits and star gazing on the living roof.

    • Top Tip 5

      San Francisco - where do you start? Visit North Beach for the cafe culture, take a tour to Alcatraz (we recommend you pre-book it), see Lombard Street, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a sightseeing tour of the city on a fire engine, shop in Union Square.

    • Top Tip 6

      For spectacular scenery, and to escape from the desert heat, take a ride on the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway. If you're in downtown Palm Springs on Thursdays, you'll enjoy VillageFest, offering live entertainment and an array of stalls selling food and gifts.

    • Top Tip 7

      Yosemite National Park is one of California's great natural wonders. Stay for a couple of nights and include a guided horseback ride for a tour with a difference.

    • Top Tip 8

      Follow the scenic 17-Mile Drive coastal route between Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove for stunning views of the Monterey Peninsula. There's a small fee to drive this route but it's worth it.

    • Top Tip 9

      Rent a bike or rollerblades and enjoy people watching along the boardwalk at Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

    • Top Tip 10

      When visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, book the VIP ticket which allows you to jump the queues and includes behind-the-scenes access.

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