For information, contact the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council, 1211 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (tel. 800/833-3494 or 831/425-1234; www.santacruzca.org), open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm, Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Special events include Shakespeare Santa Cruz in July and August (tel. 831/459-2159; shakespearesantacruz.org), and the Cabrillo Music Festival in August (tel. 831/426-6966; www.cabrillomusic.org).
Seven Money-Saving Tips for Santa Cruz Tourists
- On Friday nights in summer, head to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Beach Bandstand for free concerts with live music from the '60s, '70s, and '80s -- Greg Kihn, Eddie Money, the Fixx, Survivor -- at 6:30 and 8:30pm.
- On Mondays and Tuesdays after 5pm in summer, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk holds 1907 Nights, celebrating the year it opened by reducing prices to 65¢ a ride (that's $2.50 off). Hot dogs, sodas, and cotton candy are also just 75¢. The special typically runs from late June to the end of August.
- Great Mexican food at cheap prices is served daily from 10am to 9pm at the Las Palmas Taco Bar at 55 Front St. near the wharf (tel. 831/429-1220). This grimy little corner cafe has been a local favorite since 1955. You can smell the frijoles frying from the beach. Get a couple of beef-tongue soft tacos brimming with pico de gallo and salsa verde.
- To skip the entrance fee to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, drive 1 1/2 miles south of the main entrance on Calif. 9 to the Ox Road parking lot. Park free and then follow the trail into the park, which takes you past a popular swimming hole called the Garden of Eden.
- A far better walk than the boardwalk is along the 2-mile oceanside paved path on West Cliff Drive (west of the wharf). The scenery is spectacular, particularly at sunset, and it won't cost a cent.
- Carmelita Cottages, 321 Main St. (tel. 831/423-8304; www.hi-santacruz.org), is a hostel in Santa Cruz that will rent you a bunk bed for $22 to $25. The gaggle of white-washed Victorian cottages is a few blocks north of the Boardwalk, in a quiet residential neighborhood. The hostel also reserves a few rooms for couples and families. (It's not exactly Romance Central, but for $50 a night for your own room at such a prime location, it's hard to complain.)
- Don't pay to park in downtown Santa Cruz. Along Cedar and Front streets are three parking garages and 13 surface lots that offer 3 hours of free parking.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.