Facts, Stats & FAQs




Santa Cruz County is located on California’s Central Coast approximately 70 miles south of San Francisco; 30 miles southwest of San Jose; 40 miles north of Monterey; and 375 miles north of Los Angeles. Santa Cruz County is bordered by the Santa Cruz Mountains and San Mateo County to the north, the mountains and Santa Clara County to the east, the Pajaro River and Monterey County to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The elevation ranges from sea level to over 2,600 feet.

The total Santa Cruz County population is 276,603. The county is 441 square miles in size, and is comprised of four incorporated cities and several unincorporated towns.

Incorporated Cities: Population & Square Miles
Capitola 9,918  – 1.6
Santa Cruz 59,946 – 12
Scotts Valley 11,580 – 4.6
Watsonville 51,199  – 5.9

Unincorporated Areas
Unincorporated areas include Aptos, Ben Lomond, Bonny Doon, Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Corralitos, Davenport, Felton, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Rio Del Mar, Soquel and Zayante. The unincorporated area population is 136,086.

Mild, with summer temperatures the mid-70s and winter temperatures in the mid-50s. Humidity is low for a coastal area. An average of 31 inches of rain falls annually, primarily between November and April. Occasional fog occurs along the coast in the summer months. The spring and fall months offer the most pleasant weather conditions.

Tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and technology.

Strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, apples, roses, cut flowers, landscape plants, Brussels sprouts and wine grapes.

Santa Cruz County is served directly by Greyhound and Amtrak bus lines. Three commercial airports serve the surrounding areas of San Francisco, San Jose and Monterey. Watsonville Municipal Airport in southern Santa Cruz County serves corporate and private aircraft. Highways 1, 9, 17,129, 152 and 236 transverse Santa Cruz County.

Santa Cruz County offers 14 state parks and beaches, dozens of local parks, beaches and preserves, and a national marine sanctuary. The county is home to California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which was established in 1902.

Santa Cruz County offers a myriad of recreational activities including surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, sailing, whale watching, fishing, kayaking, tide pooling, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, cycling, birding, golf, disc golf and more.

Santa Cruz County’s arts scene is rich with museums, art galleries, performing arts companies, nightclubs and over 100 special events and festivals each year. Highlights include the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Open Studios Art Tours and many others.

With Santa Cruz County’s mild, coastal climate and long growing season, regional chefs base their imaginative culinary offerings on the bounty of locally grown organic fruits and vegetables. Seafood caught in local waters and award-winning local wines round out the meals. There are more than 70 family-owned wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation, many with public tasting rooms.

From luxurious resorts and country inns to budget motels and beachside campsites, Santa Cruz County offers an array of lodging options for travelers. The total number of lodging facilities in Santa Cruz County is 140. The total number of lodging units is 4,595.


  • Tourism is a $1.1 billion industry in Santa Cruz County (based upon 2019 figures)
  • Average hotel occupancy for 2019 was 68.5 percent.
  • The average room rate for 2019 was $166.18
  • Average travel expenditures per person are $604.00 per trip or $151.00 per day. Per day spending per person averages $39.60 for lodging, $32.20 for meals, $17.40 for shopping, $10.20 for attractions/entertainment and $20.40 for other expenses*
  • The average travel group consists of 5 people.*
  • The average length of stay in 2019 is 2.4 nights.
  • Santa Cruz County’s primary markets include the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley.

*Some figures are based upon 2014 Santa Cruz County Visitor Profile Conversion Study by Campbell Rinker Marketing Research.


What is the closest major airport?
The closest airport is San Jose International Airport, which is 32 miles from Santa Cruz, or about a 45-minute drive.

How far is Santa Cruz from San Francisco? Monterey?
Santa Cruz is approximately 70 miles south of San Francisco and 40 miles north of Monterey.

How large is Santa Cruz County?
The county is 441 square miles, with 29 miles of beaches.

What are the most popular beaches?
Main Beach, Cowell Beach, Seacliff State Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, Capitola Beach.

What are the most popular surf spots?
Steamer Lane, Cowell Beach, Pleasure Point.

What is the most visited attraction in Santa Cruz County?
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

When do the monarch butterflies visit Natural Bridges State Beach?
Between October and February.

When do the grey whales pass through the Monterey Bay?
Between January and March.

Do you have B-roll footage for Santa Cruz County?
Yes. To request a copy, please fill out the Request for Media Assistance Form.