The city of Santa Cruz (population 56,000) is located on Monterey Bay in northern California, approximately 65 miles south of San Francisco. It was first discovered in 1769, by a Spanish explorer. The first Spanish mission was built in Santa Cruz in 1791, and the city was later incorporated into the new state of California in 1866.
Over the years, the city’s economy has been driven by farming, fishing, tanneries, and mining. Its Salz Tannery was made famous in the 1950’s after being extensively photographed by Ansel Adams. Nowadays, Santa Cruz has remade itself into a tourist destination, however advanced technology, agriculture, and education still play a sizeable part in the local economy.
Santa Cruz is well-connected. One can reach it on California’s State Highway 1, on the Union Pacific Railroad, and through a number of nearby airports including San Jose and San Francisco International Airports.
Santa Cruz has a Mediterranean climate. It receives an average of thirty inches of rainfall a year and its temperature ranges from an average low of 60 degrees in January to an average high of 76 degrees in September. Both its climate and its beaches are one of the main reasons that Santa Cruz has become a preeminent tourist destination on California’s northern coast.
Santa Cruz itself boasts eight beaches, with ten more within easy driving distance. Nearly all of these beaches are suitable for surfing and have proven to be a major attraction for the Santa Cruz area. Downtown Santa Cruz has also built itself into a tourist destination, offering shopping, museums, galleries, historic walking tours, live music, and nightlife.