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Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County is the Gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, has 29 miles of coastline and includes numerous state parks and beaches. Its quaint shops and restaurants, coupled with a multitude of cultural and recreational activities, including sailing, fishing, golfing, surfing, kayaking and hiking, provide a wealth of leisure activities. The State of California owns and maintains 42,334 acres of parks in the coastal and mountainous areas of the County. The County maintains an additional 1,593 acres of parks, not including the numerous parks also found within the cities. 

City of Santa Cruz

Prior to the arrival of Spanish soldiers, missionaries and colonists in the late 18th century, the Santa Cruz area was home to the Ohlone Native Americans. The Ohlone had no written language, and lived in small villages scattered around the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay regions. Within fifty years of the Spaniards' arrival, the Ohlone culture and way of life had virtually disappeared in the Santa Cruz area. 


The picturesque town of Aptos is in an unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County that includes the Rio Del Mar, Seacliff and Seascape areas. It is also home to historic Aptos Village, and the gateway to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park


Capitola’s seaside charm, combined with the rural feel of nearby Soquel oftentimes leave visitors longing for a more relaxed way of life in these small towns just south of Santa Cruz. Capitola Village, the Pacific coast’s oldest seaside resort town, retains the feel of a vintage beachside town, where galleries and boutiques decorate quaint streets as the lazy afternoon sun paints the colorful Venetian buildings in golden yellow light.


The original settlement now known as Capitola grew out of what was then called Soquel Landing. Soquel Landing got its name from a wharf located at the mouth of Soquel Creek. This wharf, which dates back to the 1850s, served as an outlet for the produce and lumber grown in the interior. 

Scotts Valley

The City of Scotts Valley, incorporated on August 2, 1966, is a general law city with a population of approximately 11,680. Scotts Valley is located in Santa Cruz County and is six miles north of the City of Santa Cruz and 26 miles southwest of San Jose. The City operates under the council-manager form of government.

San Lorenzo Valley

The San Lorenzo River begins in the Santa Cruz Mountains, winding its way through Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, Brookdale and Felton before spilling into the Monterey Bay. Once home to a bustling logging industry, the mountains returned to their natural state, where old and second-growth redwood trees have sprung back to life.


Watsonville's land was first inhabited by an Indian tribe called the Costanoans. This tribe settled along the Pajaro Dunes since the land was fertile and useful for the cultivation of their plants and animals. In 1796, European explorers came to the land where they claimed to have seen a big bird along the side of the river, this symbol helped explorers to establish the name of the main river, which they identified as Rio del Pajaro, or River of the Bird. This river that runs along the boundaries of the city divides the Santa Cruz County and the Monterey County.

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Parks & Activities

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