Santa Cruz , California is the largest city of Santa Cruz County, California in the US. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Santa Cruz had a total population of 59,946. It is located on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay, about 72 mi (115 km) south of San Francisco. The county is a strip about ten miles (16 km) wide between the coast and the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains at the northern end of the Monterey Bay. It can be divided roughly into four regions: the rugged "north coast"; the urban City of Santa Cruz, Soquel, Capitola, and Aptos; mountainous Bonny Doon, San Lorenzo River Valley; and fertile "south county", including Watsonville. Agriculture is concentrated in the coastal lowlands of the county's northern and southern ends. Most of the coastline is flanked by cliffs.
In the original act, the county was given the name of "Branciforte" after the Spanish pueblo founded there in 1797; a major watercourse in the county, Branciforte Creek, bears this name. Less than two months later, the name was changed to "Santa Cruz" ("Holy Cross"). Mission Santa Cruz, established in 1791 and completed in 1794, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1857, but a smaller-scale replica was erected in 1931.
The present-day site of Santa Cruz, California was the location of an American Indian settlement since ancient times. It was also one of the earliest settlements of the Spanish during the exploration of Alta California in the later part of the 18th century, including a California Mission, Mission Santa Cruz. During the late 19th century, after California became part of the United States, Santa Cruz became widely popular for its idyllic beaches and coastal redwood forests, establishing itself as a resort community.
Santa Cruz, California is now known for its moderate climate, natural beauty, educational institutions, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park.
Santa Cruz, California is well-known for watersports such as sailing, diving, swimming, paddling, kiteboarding, and is regarded as one of the best spots in the world for surfing. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is California’s oldest amusement park and a designated State Historic Landmark. Home to a National Historic Landmark, a 1911 Charles I.D. Looff Carousel and 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster, the Boardwalk has been owned and operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1915
The Santa Cruz Wharf is known for fishing, viewing marine mammals and other recreation. Local parks offer many opportunities for birding and butterfly watching, as well as outdoor sports such as skateboarding, cycling, camping, rock climbing and hiking. In addition to its reputation in surfing and skateboarding, Santa Cruz is known for other alternative sports such as disc golf. The De Laveaga Disc Golf Course hosts PDGA tournaments, including the annual Masters Cup. De Laveaga was the disc golf and discathon venue for the WFDF-sanctioned World Disc Games overall event held in Santa Cruz in July 2005.
Santa Cruz, California offers a wealth of cultural experiences. Santa Cruz County Symphony — Founded in 1958, the Santa Cruz County Symphony is a fully professional ensemble of 65 members which presents an annual concert series at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and the Mello Center in Watsonville. Additional offerings include musician school visits, free concerts for area school children, family concerts, and pops concerts. Shakespeare Santa Cruz — An annual summer festival at UC Santa Cruz, the event typically performs two Shakespeare plays and one other play every summer, many of which are performed in a unique outdoor space among the redwoods. Santa Cruz Film Festival — An annual event for independent filmmakers to share their work with film enthusiasts.
Open Studios Art Tour — The art fair has been run for more than three decades and draws artists and patrons from around the area. O’Neill Cold Water Classic — An annual surfing event that draws crowds at the popular Steamer Lane. Wharf to Wharf Race — An annual race which has been held for more than three decades. Woodies on the Wharf — An annual woodies show that takes place on the Santa Cruz Wharf. Santa Cruz Farmers Market – Several year-round outdoor markets showcasing the agricultural diversity of the Central Coast region with emphasis on sustainable agriculture and organic food. Regional specialties include strawberry, apple, artichoke, artisan goat cheeses and brassica. The main market is held downtown on Wednesdays.
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