The county seat for Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz was initially founded in 1769 by a Spanish explorer named Don Gaspar de Portola. The name “Santa Cruz” is Spanish for “Holy Cross.” De Portola was immediately captured by the beautiful flowing river in Santa Cruz in addition to the rolling hills, that played a crucial role in the early development of the community. Two decades later, in 1791, Father Fermin de Lasuen established the twelfth Spanish mission in what would become the state of California. By the 1820s, Mexico had taken control over most of the area, and in another 20 years, Americans began to arrive, primarily drawn to the area by the Goldrush of 1849. However, many of those American gold-seekers opted to stay in the area, thanks in large part to the agricultural-related possibilities that the land offered.
Today, Santa Cruz, which is also situated on the northern portion of Monterey Bay, lies approximately 30 miles southwest of San Jose and 74 miles south of San Francisco. This proximity to some of the larger, metropolitan areas, the popularity of the tech industry that is so prevalent in the region, and the abundance of other employment opportunities, have worked together to make Santa Cruz one of the most desirable areas to live in all of California.
While the entire Bay Area is known for its quick access to the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz is the community that is most known for beach life. Santa Cruz itself is situated on a broad coastline and provides nearly 30 miles of beaches, ensuring that there’s always something for ocean lovers to enjoy. Surfing is one of the most popular activities in the area, and even if you’re not a seasoned surfer, you can find plenty of instructors in and around the area who can help you figure out how to ride the waves. In fact, surfing is one of the key components of Santa Cruz history. If you visit the famous Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, you’ll find the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum which is housed inside. The museum provides a detailed history and some interactive exhibits that detail more than 100 years’ worth of surfing history that is associated with Santa Cruz. Even if surfing isn’t your thing, visitors to the museum always enjoy the breathtaking view of Monterey Bay and the famed Steamer Lane, which is one of the most historic surfing spots in the state.
The world famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk is also home to Pacific Coast’s last remaining seaside amusement park. Inside the park, visitors can enjoy more than 30 rides, arcades, roughly 15 gift shops, food, and an indoor miniature golf course. In addition to the Boardwalk, residents and visitors to Santa Cruz always enjoy The Cocoanut Grove complex which hosts multiple events throughout the year. During some of these events, there are tons of local vendors, artisans, and artists who set up booths and sell their work. The Cocoanut Grove complex is also a popular spot for parties, wedding, and corporate events.
While Santa Cruz does provide quick access to all of the sports teams in San Jose, there are also alternative sporting options in Santa Cruz. For instance, a popular and internationally acclaimed disc golf course, Da Lavega Disc Golf Course is in Santa Cruz. This course is home to the annual Masters Cup, the largest Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) tournament in the world.
There is always something to do in Santa Cruz. For instance, there are multiple wineries in the area, each of which provide their own wine tasting programs and other exhibits. Thanks largely to its proximity to the ocean, there are multiple charter boat companies in the area that allow you to enjoy a day on the water with a professional captain to guide your vessel. Finally, Santa Cruz is home to 14 state parks, each of which provide their own hiking, jogging, biking trails, and much, much more.
Education is of the highest priority in Santa Cruz. In addition to the large number of private schools in the community, there are 29 public schools, which are some of the best anywhere in the state. Based on state-issued standardized tests, students in Santa Cruz boast a math proficiency of 48%, which is 8% higher than the California state average. Additionally, Santa Cruz students scored a 60% proficiency rating in reading, which is 9% higher than the state average.
In addition to public and private grade schools and high schools in Santa Cruz, the city is also home to the University of California Santa Cruz. The college, which opened in 1965 with 650 students has grown and now boasts nearly 20,000 students. The home of the Banana Slugs (a mascot that was adopted in 1986 and made famous by John Travolta in Pulp Fiction) offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, ensuring that Santa Cruz is producing a large number of professionals in every industry imaginable.
The housing market in Santa Cruz is a competitive one, thanks largely to its proximity to the major metropolitan areas, beaches, and more. Homes for sale in Santa Cruz routinely get snatched up in under 30 days, and have an average sales price just north of $1.25 million. Unlike some other areas in the United States, properties in Santa Cruz don’t all have the same architectural styles, ensuring that you can find a new house the reflects your own personal tastes and design preferences. Craftsman designs, which were initially designed as a simplistic, minimalist response to the Victorian designs that were popular at the turn of the 20th century can be found in virtually every area of Santa Cruz. In addition to these Craftsman-style designs, homebuyers in Santa Cruz can also find a variety of Spanish-inspired architecture, bungalows, and contemporary styles.
With a population of roughly 64,000 people, Santa Cruz isn’t quite as crowded as some of the major metropolitans in the Bay Area, but the population size still produces a competitive market for people buying or selling a house. With that information in mind, it’s a good idea to have an experienced REALTOR in your corner to help you navigate the process. Whether you’re buying a property in Santa Cruz or you’re interested in listing your property, it’s a great idea to work with an agent who is not only passionate and knowledgeable about the area, but also one that has a proven track record of getting clients the best deal possible. I would love the chance to help you make your California dreams a reality. Contact me today if you’re looking for a REALTOR in Santa Cruz.