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Santa Cruz County is in California just south of the Bay Area. The north half of Monterey Bay is part of the county. It is the state's second-smallest county by land area, with only San Francisco County occupying a smaller physical area.
- 1 Aptos
- 2 Boulder Creek
- 3 Capitola
- 4 Felton
- 5 Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz is best known as a countercultural hub, with a fun bohemian feel and youthful vibe, and weekend tourist attractions like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a historic mission, and the dubious Mystery Spot. The beaches north and south of Santa Cruz are considered some of the more pristine areas of natural beauty in central California, and while conditions generally make them impractical for swimming, several are considered an expert surfer's cold cold paradise.
- 6 Scotts Valley
- 7 Watsonville
- 1 San Mateo County - Located to the north of Santa Cruz County, San Mateo County has a split personality. Its eastern half is a heavily populated urban area, home to Silicon Valley companies, San Francisco International Airport, and all of the hotels, restaurants, malls, and other amenities needed to support a bustling population. The western half is completely different, offering an amazing escape for those looking to hike among redwoods, or who want to see seabirds, seals and whales while enjoying a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, or for couples hoping for a romantic getaway in a quiet B&B.
- 2 Santa Clara County - Santa Cruz County's northern neighbor is home to Silicon Valley, headquarters to hundreds of tech companies including giants like Apple, Intel and Hewlett Packard. Visitors will appreciate the massive array of restaurants, museums, and cultural opportunities offered by the huge city of San Jose, while at the other end of the spectrum the tiny town of Gilroy is famous for garlic, with its annual festival attracting over 100,000 garlic lovers.
- 3 San Benito County - Southeast of Santa Cruz County, San Benito County is an inland county dominated by the Coast Mountain Range. It is relatively sparsely populated, with only about 55,000 inhabitants. Pinnacles National Park and its dramatic rock formations lies in this county, as well as the town of San Juan Bautista and its historic mission.
- 4 Monterey County - Located south of Santa Cruz County, Monterey County is what many people think of when they think of the Central Coast - the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the beautiful 17-Mile Drive, Cannery Row, Pebble Beach golf course, and the rugged beauty of Big Sur. The northern part of the county contains every manner of amenity for travelers, ranging from chain motels to five star resorts, while the southern portion of the county is remote and accessible mainly by the Pacific Coast Highway or on foot by hikers.