Although Santa Cruz County is the smallest county in the state after San Francisco, it is an incredibly diverse and beautiful area. There is so much to see and do in Santa Cruz - there is something for just about everyone! Perhaps more than anything else, though, Santa Cruz is known as Surf City USA, and was the site of the first surfing in California in 1885. The area is blessed with 11 incredible surf breaks, which notably Steamer's Lane and Pleasure Point.
Santa Cruz is located on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay, about 60 mi (100 km) south of San Francisco. The area is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild summers and cool coastal fog - nature's air conditioning! While the Silicon Valley broils, Santa Cruz remains cool and comfortable. The winters are often quite rainy and somewhat chilly.
The first people to live in Santa Cruz County were the Ohlone Indians - Native American hunter-gatherers. Later, Santa Cruz was colonized by the Spanish in the mid-1700s. The Spanish established Mission Santa Cruz, as well as a secular settlement known as Branciforte.
Santa Cruz has long been tied to the Silicon Valley, and for years has been concerned with becoming another bedroom community for it. However, the fact remains that many residents of Santa Cruz County make the trip "over the hill" via Highway 17 to the Silicon Valley to work. The growth of the Silicon Valley, coupled with the mushrooming campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, as lead to growing traffic problems and a high cost of housing. In fact, Santa Cruz is regularly to be found on the list of the five most expensive housing markets anywhere in the United States.