SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

County Offices
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz 831-454-2100
www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
725 Front Street
Santa Cruz 831-457-3713
www.santacruzchamber.org

 

Services
Modern transportation amenities ensure quick and easy travel in and through  Santa Cruz County. Highway 1 traverses north/south along the California coast through both Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. The highway provides some of the most spectacular vistas in California as well as access to many of the region’s beaches and scenic attractions. In addition, Highways 17 and 9 move traffic northeast from Santa Cruz to ensure convenient travel through Felton, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, and Scotts Valley.

Travel to destinations outside the county is equally convenient. The Monterey Peninsula Airport, located in nearby Monterey, is served by several airlines offering connecting service to destinations worldwide. For expanded service, international airports in San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco are all within an hour’s drive. The county’s own Watsonville Municipal Airport is well equipped to handle private aircraft and all general aviation needs.

Education
The Santa Cruz Office of Education maintains 10 local school districts. The office is headed by an elected County Superintendent of Schools. The office and each district are also served by a Board of Education that is elected by the community. Within the public schools, test scores tend to be well above average for each district. Alternative education is also possible through charter schools and a number of private schools–both parochial and independent.

For those launching a degree program or completing their higher education, the region offers several quality choices. On the community college level, Cabrillo College offers campuses in Aptos and Watsonville. Offering 40 undergraduate degree programs, as well as Master’s and doctoral degrees, the University of California at Santa Cruz now serves 11,000 students each year in eight separate colleges. For an even wider selection of academic opportunities, California State University-Monterey Bay, Central Coast College, and the Monterey Peninsula College are all located in adjacent Monterey County.

 

Quality of Life
Offering the perfect climate for outdoor activities, the sun shines 300 days a  year in Santa Cruz County. With miles of beaches and acres of lush parkland, residents can choose from a myriad of outdoor activities and recreational opportunities. From the towering redwood trees of Portola Redwoods State Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park to the sandy shores of Sunset State Beach and Natural Bridges State Beach, the area is filled with scenic places to hike, bike, picnic, camp, and swim. The sparkling blue Pacific Ocean waters are ideal for surfing, sailing, and whale watching.

Back on shore, the communities of Santa Cruz County are brimming with cozy cafes, charming bistros, bustling boardwalks, art galleries, and unique specialty shops. Nestled in an atmosphere of rich culture and artistry, Santa Cruz serves as home to an impressive list of artists, actors, and musicians.

Those who appreciate the arts will be pleased to discover an entire array of music festivals, art exhibits, stage productions, and symphony performances. At the same time, the county’s inland valleys are dotted with vineyards, farms, ranches, and orchards.

Here, the county’s fertile soil and mild climate combine to produce a delightful variety of fresh vegetables, sun-ripened fruits–and delicious, award-winning wines.

 

Aptos
County Offices
831-454-2100
www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
831-688-1467
www.aptoschamber.com

Aptos is a comparatively large  unincorporated town that claims a total of 24,000 residents. It is believed that the Native Americans originally named this area “Awatos,” which means “Where the waters meet.” The name is a good reflection of the area’s unique setting in a place where two creeks join before entering the bay.

Today, the town’s primary centers of residential development include Seascape, Rio del Mar, Seacliff, and the Cabrillo area. A smaller portion of residents also live in the more rural area known as Aptos Hills.

The residents of Aptos enjoy an average household income that is among the highest in the nation. This is, in part, due to the large number of residents who commute to jobs in Santa Clara. With no municipal or city government, the local library, the fire department, chamber of commerce, and sheriff’s service center act as community information centers.

Boasting a pleasing combination of redwood forest and majestic coastline, Aptos offers a diversity of lifestyles. Housing options range from rustic mountain cabins to gracious modern homes bordering golf courses. All homesites enjoy the region’s beautiful wildlife and fauna. This varied terrain and geography offers residents an equally wide range of recreational activities. Newcomers to Aptos will be pleased to find clean, sandy beaches, award-winning golf courses, nearby state parks, and shopping centers–as well as the selection of amenities found in nearby Santa Cruz.

 

Boulder Creek
The unincorporated community of  Boulder Creek is located 13 miles north of Santa Cruz at the junction of Bear Creek, Boulder Creek, and the San Lorenzo River. Boulder Creek is the northernmost of the scenic communities along the San Lorenzo River. Once an area bustling with farmers and loggers, Boulder Creek has begun to draw commuters from Silicon Valley.

Offering a respite from the more congested communities of the Santa Clara Valley, Boulder Creek provides a peaceful atmosphere and the scenic beauty of life among towering redwoods. This unique, small town lifestyle includes a library, volunteer fire department, a recreation center, Big Basin State Park, an historical society and museum, vineyards and wineries, a year-round river, annual art and wine festival, and several popular family eateries.

 

Ben Lomond
The unincorporated community of  Ben Lomond lies along winding Highway 9, just three miles south of Boulder Creek. Along with Felton, Boulder Creek, and Brookdale, Ben Lomond is located in the beautiful San Lorenzo Valley, nestled along the Santa Cruz Mountains between Big Basin State Park in the north and Henry Cowell Redwoods in the south. The community is also located directly north of Bonny Doon and Fall Creek State Park.

The name “Ben Lomond” reflects the community’s Scottish heritage that is still prevalent today. An early Scottish settler named the mountain on which he lived, “Ben Lomond,” in honor of his native land. In the 1960s, the town formed the Ben Lomond Scottish Association, adopted the Buchanan tartan as its own, and renamed Newell Creek Reservoir “Loch Lomond” Reservoir. This area that has long been a popular tourist destination will offer newcomers a delightful place to call home.

 

Bonny Doon
The unincorporated community of  Bonny Doon extends north from Davenport to the area above the San Lorenzo Valley. Although Bonny Doon is nestled against the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains, residential areas have been developed on generous lots of level land.

Sharing in much of the region’s Scottish heritage, Bonny Doon was named by Scottish native John Burns. The name came from the celebrated song that represents the undisputed national bard of Scotland, “The Banks O’Doon.”  Nearby Loch Lomond was named for a similar song. Today, the area is best known for its panoramic natural beauty, enviable year-round weather, and numerous wineries.

 

Capitola
Municipal Offices
831-475-7300
www.cityofcapitola.org

Chamber of Commerce
831-475-6522
www.capitolachamber.com

Capitola was originally founded as  the resort, “Camp Capitola,” and was incorporated as a city in 1949. Located along Highway 1 between Soquel and Aptos, Capitola is the state’s oldest seaside resort town. A uniquely charming area, Capitola offers a variety of housing styles and neighborhoods within relatively small geographic boundaries.

The city’s charming riverside and wharf districts are often likened to a quaint Mediterranean village. The city also features a charming village area nestled on a wide beach between two towering bluffs overlooking the waters of northern Monterey Bay. Known as Capitola Village, this area with its breathtaking vistas is home to several art and craft galleries, boutiques, and casual restaurants.

In addition, Upper Capitola Village provides a variety of shopping options from the unique to traditional. The area known as Forty-First Avenue, serving as the city’s commercial and economic hub, is also home to the county’s only major enclosed mall. Each September, Capitola hosts the Begonia Festival. Festival activities include filling the Soquel Creek with flower-draped floats created by local competitors. During September, area residents and visitors also celebrate the Capitola Art and Wine Festival. The recreational amenities of New Brighton Beach State Park rounds out the city, offering outdoor activities on a forested bluff that overlooks scenic Monterey Bay.

 

Corralitos
Newcomers to the community will find Corralitos to be a very pleasing rural area on the mountainous side of Highway 1 just south of Aptos. The community’s unique neighborhoods offer homebuyers the opportunity to purchase spacious lots suitable for extensive gardening or the keeping of large animals.

The wide open spaces of Corralitos and the surrounding region are also known for their fruitful apple orchards and strawberry growing areas in addition to the county-style Corralitos Market. Located just six miles to the south, the neighboring Watsonville is a city known as both the “Strawberry Capital of the World” and the “Apple City of the West.”

 

Davenport
The community of Davenport is a  small historic residential area that overlooks the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary approximately 12 miles north of the City of Santa Cruz on scenic Highway 1. In years past, the community was a tiny seaside settlement famous for its thriving whaling industry. In fact, Davenport was named for an early resident who established his own whaling business after the Civil War. Today, the cliffs and beaches offer some of the best vantage points for whale watching during the mammal’s annual coastal migration period.

The portion of the coastal area that houses Davenport is unique in its ability to remain undeveloped over the years. This unspoiled setting has made is possible for the area’s beauty to be delicately preserved. Here, undisturbed coastal terraces and spectacular cliffs line the sea and a series of pastoral ranches and farms dot the landscape.

Popular recreational destinations include Davenport Beach, Ano Nuevo Elephant Seal Reserve, Greyhound Rock County Park, Rancho Del Oso Nature/History Center, and Waddell State Beach

 

Felton
County Offices
831-454-2100
www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
831-222-2120
www.slvchamber.org

The center of the unincorporated  community of Felton is located off Highway 1 on Highway 9, just six miles from the City of Santa Cruz. A picturesque town nestled within a towering redwood forest, Felton is often considered the gateway to the panoramic San Lorenzo Valley. In spite of the fact that Felton is a rural inland area, residents enjoy good access to coastal areas and close proximity to Santa Cruz amenities.

The community offers its residents the advantage of several outstanding recreational areas including Henry Cowell State Park and Fall Creek Park. Throughout the region, Felton is known for the charming Historic Felton Covered Bridge and the San Lorenzo River. Other nearby popular destinations are Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Loch Lomond Lake, the Redwood Forest, and the Santa Cruz Big Trees Railroad.

 

Santa Cruz
Municipal Offices
831-420-5030
www.cityofsantacruz.com

Chamber of Commerce
831-457-3713
www.santacruzchamber.org

Santa Cruz is situated on the coast of the northern portion of Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz serves as the county seat for Santa Cruz County. In addition, with a population over 53,000, the city is the retail, entertainment, business, and educational center of the county. The major industries include agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and high tech, and food processing.

The city is home to the University of California at Santa Cruz, which serves over 10,000 students each year. Downtown Santa Cruz, known as, “The heart of Santa Cruz,” provides residents and visitors with the perfect mix of retail, entertainment, dining, and adventure. Pacific Avenue, with its modern style and Victorian past, is populated with galleries, theatres, cafes, and boutiques.

Combining this free and relaxed lifestyle with unparalleled natural beauty, Santa Cruz is probably best known for its white, sandy beaches. Recognized as the last of California’s beach towns, Santa Cruz affords its fortunate residents a pleasing blend of tranquility, sun, sand, and surf.

Celebrating its pristine coastal environment, Santa Cruz serves as the gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Long Marine Lab. Local artisans greatly appreciate the area’s undisturbed natural beauty. An array of studios and galleries showcase paintings, sculptures, and glasswork inspired by the surrounding vistas.

 

Scotts Valley
Municipal Offices
831-440-5600
www.scottsvalley.org

Chamber of Commerce
831-438-1010
www.scottsvalleychamber.com

Archeologists have found that over 12,000 years ago, Native Americans from all over the California region converged on what is now known as Scotts Valley to trade goods. Today, Scotts Valley is still a regional hub of trade and commerce. In fact, the city is home to more than six shopping centers and nearly a dozen electronic firms. The town’s close proximity to Silicon Valley technology has spurred rapid expansion in computer-related fields like software and electronics.

Characterized as a thriving trade center, Scotts Valley benefits from an ideal location at the junction of local highways that connect several major metropolitan centers.

Located in the San Lorenzo Valley in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Scotts Valley is situated between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz, six miles north of Santa Cruz and 30 miles southwest of San Jose. While the scenic mountains create the San Lorenzo Valley, they also provide a barrier between Scotts Valley and its bustling neighbor, San Jose. Thus, residents of Scotts Valley are able to enjoy a less populated environment as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding forest. Offering tranquil neighborhoods in rustic rural settings, Scotts Valley is a popular location for homebuyers who commute to jobs in the nearby Silicon Valley.

 

Soquel
The unincorporated, mid-county  community of Soquel is located just inland from Capitola. The unique landscape of the community blends broad pastures and hillsides that climb to the summit of the panoramic Santa Cruz Mountains.

With just over 9,000 residents, the community enjoys an atmosphere defined by friendly residents, fresh air, and charming little neighborhoods nestled among piney woods. Offering a quaint downtown district, Soquel residents frequent Soquel Village as well as the Trader’s Emporium, a distinct collection of small shops and boutiques. In addition, the downtown area is home to a surprising number of gourmet restaurants.

Duplicating images straight from a New England township, Soquel features huge, roadside oak trees and even a historic, white steepled church founded in 1868. Newcomers to Soquel will find that housing options range from modest in-town homes to rural estates located on the outskirts of town.

 

Watsonville
Municipal Offices
831-768-3010
http://cityofwatsonville.org

Chamber of Commerce
831-724-3900
www.pajarovalleychamber.com

The city of Watsonville is located in  the fertile Pajaro Valley on the southern edge of Santa Cruz County. In this region, agriculture remains the leading industry. In fact, Watsonville is known as both, “The Strawberry Capital of the World” and “Apple City of the West.” In the spring, miles of orchards, some over 100 years old, burst into blossom. From acres of orchards and fields, a great quantity of strawberries, lallieberries, apples, lettuce, brussel sprouts, and colorful flowers are gathered to be shipped around the world. Each year, more than 85 factories pack and process over $100 million worth of produce.

Characterized as a quiet, friendly community, Watsonville is known for its historic charm and small-town appeal. The city is proud of its many impressive structures that date from the mid-nineteenth century. Over the years, residents have collaborated and worked to ensure that vintage structures were carefully restored and refurbished to reflect their original charm and grandeur. The broad Main Street of today is a true community center lined with family restaurants, unique shops, and department stores.

Watsonville’s largest annual event is the Antique Aircraft Fly-In. Memorial Day weekend, thousands of visitors and residents alike come together at the Watsonville Airport to see antique and experimental aircraft and to watch demonstration and stunt flying.

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