Flanked by coastal redwoods and Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz blends Southern California’s beach town vibes with Northern California’s rugged good looks. With 300 annual days of sunshine, you’ll find most residents outdoors on bikes, trails, or surfboards. It’s here that surfing was introduced to the mainland in the 1880s, and today, surf culture informs nearly every aspect of daily life. The official dress code is flip-flops and hoodies, yet it’s not all beach bums sleeping in their VW vans. A new wave of young business owners are lending the once sleepy town a jolt of fresh energy with stylish boutiques, craft brews, and modern eateries.
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