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Santa Cruz, CA Event Planning

Key Highlights

Hotels 26
Total Sleeping Rooms 1,486
Committable Sleeping Rooms* 285
Committable Meeting Rooms* 15
Largest Exhibit Space 20,000 Sq. Ft.
Largest Ballroom 6,297 Sq. Ft.
*Maximum for a single hotel

Santa Cruz, CA Meeting Planning Overview

Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Santa Cruz County, a guide for meeting professionals. A captivating meeting and leisure destination situated on California's Central Coast, Santa Cruz County is world renowned for its outdoor recreation, vibrant arts scene, organic farming, and culinary movement; and, it is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the country. Home to natural beauty, from beaches to redwood forests, Santa Cruz County boasts a variety of settings and activities for groups. Groups have their pick of nine full-service venues in the county, as well as plenty of group dining spaces and team-building activities, ranging from ropes courses and ziplines to sandcastle building and group drumming.

Santa Cruz County sits along the West Coast's iconic Highway 1, just 70 miles south of San Francisco, 32 miles southwest of San Jose, and 375 miles north of Los Angeles, and is within a day's drive from most Northern California cities. It is easily accessible from a number of major airports, including San Francisco International Airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport, and Monterey Regional Airport. Situated 65 miles from Santa Cruz and 14 miles outside of downtown San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport is one of the world's 30 busiest airports, serving more than 44 million passengers annually. Situated 33 miles from Santa Cruz and three miles north of downtown San Jose, the sleek, light-filled Mineta San Jose International Airport averages 120 commercial and 87 general aviation departures daily. The airport offers 31 gates among its Terminal A, International Arrivals, and Terminal C facilities, providing nonstop flights to destinations throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Japan. Located about 45 miles from Santa Cruz, Monterey Regional Airport provides charter and commercial service for the California Central Coast, with regular flights to San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, and Las Vegas. Once in Santa Cruz County, meeting delegates can easily hop aboard the Santa Cruz Metro bus system, which operates along 41 fixed routes, providing local service in the cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, Watsonville, and Scotts Valley and the unincorporated areas of Aptos, Soquel, Live Oak, Bonny Doon, Davenport, and the San Lorenzo Valley, as well as the Highway 17 Express route, which connects Santa Cruz County with downtown San Jose and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service.

Aside from its full-service meeting venues, Santa Cruz County is home to a variety of unique venues that function as spectacular group gathering places. The downtown Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History showcases contemporary art and sculpture, as well as welcomes group events in a variety of spaces, including its Rooftop Sculpture Garden, enclosed Atrium, outdoor Courtyard, and more. Designed by golf legend Alister MacKenzie, the award-winning, semi-private Pasatiempo Golf Club regularly hosts group outings, meetings, and banquets in such spaces as its Hollins House, which overlooks Monterey Bay. Groups can catch a show or put on their own event at the 680-seat Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, as well as enjoy a beach party, group picnic, or all-around fun outing at the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which has been recognized as the best seaside park in the world. The University of California at Santa Cruz-affiliated Seymour Marine Discovery Center welcomes groups to immerse themselves in the world of marine science and conservation at the 20,000-square-foot visitor center, complete with exhibit halls, an aquarium, touch pools, and private event spaces.

About Santa Cruz, CA / Additional Info

Iconic, relaxed and stunningly beautiful, Santa Cruz County boasts a unique combination of tranquil natural beauty, exciting outdoor recreation, delicious local cuisine, and entertaining attractions. The county is home to a variety of cities and areas that range from the rural Soquel and quaint redwood-populated Aptos to the vintage Capitola Village, regarded as the Pacific Coast's oldest seaside resort town. Visitors frequent Capitola for its seaside charm, Davenport for its art galleries and cafes, San Lorenzo Valley for its campgrounds, trails, and scenic redwood drives, Scotts Valley for its mix of business and leisure attractions, and Watsonville for its pristine beaches, wetlands, and outstanding birdwatching. The pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets of downtown Santa Cruz serve as the heart of the county, and feature an eclectic mix of galleries, nightclubs, spas, shops, public art, coffeehouses, restaurants, and street performers. Santa Cruz features such attractions as the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum; as the world's first surfing museum, the space showcases photographs, surfboards, videos, and more to chronicle the origins and culture of surfing. The county is also home to the University of California at Santa Cruz, which sits perched on a hillside overlooking Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. The university welcomes visitors to enjoy its performance halls, galleries, gardens, trails, and famous arboretum.

One of the original counties in California, Santa Cruz County originally served as the home of the Ohlone Native Americans before the arrival of Spanish missionaries and colonists in the late 18th century. A centerpiece of the Mission and Pueblo period, Santa Cruz County has grown to become a center of liberal and progressive activism, and still celebrates its rich past in its array of attractions, museums, and architecture. Beyond its history, Santa Cruz County also celebrates its stunning natural beauty, which comes in the form of towering redwoods, white sand beaches, and surf-ready waters. Many of the county's most beloved highlights center on its natural beauty. The classic seaside amusement park, home to two National Historic Landmarks, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk sits along Santa Cruz's Main Beach and adjacent to the Santa Cruz Wharf. A fantastic spot for fishing, whale-watching and kayaking expeditions, the wharf is also the place to go for fresh seafood and seaside shopping. The popular Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of 14 federally protected National Marine Sanctuaries in the U.S., has a visitor center a block from the Santa Cruz Wharf. The sanctuary boasts intertidal touchpools, a submarine canyon, and more natural features. The county encompasses 14 state parks, as well as a variety of wildlife-watching experiences focusing on gray and humpback whales, dolphins, sea otters, and coastal birds. The Santa Cruz Wharf itself is home to a group of sea lions that like to sun themselves at the end of the half-mile walkway.

Santa Cruz County's bounty can also be experienced in its fresh cuisine, local wines, and organic food movement. The county is known for its apples, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables, as well as its fresh salmon, Dungeness crab, sand dabs, calamari, and more, pulled in daily from Monterey Bay. Visitors can explore the county as one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the country, thanks to such groups as the Surf City Vintners, a collection of a dozen micro-boutique wineries that welcome guests to learn about the wine-making process and talk with the winemakers themselves. Visitors frequent the Santa Cruz and Capitola Food Tours, which take hungry travelers to off-the-beaten-path gems throughout downtown Santa Cruz and Capitola Village. Santa Cruz County's commitment to local foods and its wine-making excellence are reflected in its rich culinary scene. Santa Cruz's Hula's Island Grill & Tiki Lounge is a throwback to the tiki restaurants and bars of the 50s and 60s, while Laili Restaurant brings the flavors of the Silk Road to the California coast. The downtown Santa Cruz 515 Kitchen & Cocktails showcases local, sustainable, organic, and seasonal ingredients, while the beachside Crow's Nest Restaurant offers breathtaking Santa Cruz Harbor views and summer beach parties. Nestled beside Soquel Creek in Capitola, the romantic Shadowbrook Restaurant is best reached by its own cable car or scenic garden path.

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