Hip Rental Apartments in Santa Cruz, California, You'll Want to Call Home

Find a place to call home in Santa Cruz
Find a place to call home in Santa Cruz | Courtesy of Dream Inn Santa Cruz / Expedia
Tim Rowland

Santa Cruz is a great beach town at the top of Monterey Bay, with a boardwalk, wharf, amusements arcade and, of course, miles of golden sand. It’s fun to be self-sufficient on a holiday like this, and an apartment with a kitchen, and maybe even a private balcony or patio with ocean views, will be a welcome place to retire to after a long day at the beach. Here are the best rental apartments in Santa Cruz.

1. Beach Street Inn and Suites

Bed and Breakfast, Inn, Hotel, Apartment

Beach Street Inn and Suites
Courtesy of Beach Street Inn and Suites / Expedia

Once a 1940s motel, Beach Street Inn and Suites has since been transformed into a mini-resort. It overlooks Main Beach and Cowell Beach, two of Santa Cruz’s most popular, as well as the Santa Cruz Wharf, lined with shops and eateries. The rooms are bright and cheerful, with lots of ocean blues and nautical touches such as crossed oars on the walls. The ocean view balcony room has a kitchen, while the two-bed cabana suite opens out onto the pool deck, which includes a heated pool, firepit and hot tub. Guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, cocoa and espresso in the guest lounge.

2. Casablanca on the Beach

Hotel, Apartment

A simple hotel room overlooking Santa Cruz pier at Casablanca on the Beach.
Courtesy of Casablanca on the Beach / Expedia

This converted mansion just a few paces from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a Mediterranean vibe and great views across Monterey Bay. There’s beach volleyball and soccer right in front of you, and the wharf is a short stroll away. The rooms have coffee makers, organic bath products and either shared or private balconies overlooking Main Beach. Bowling at Boardwalk Bowl and all the amusements at Cocoanut Grove are a short walk away, including minigolf, laser tag and the casino arcade.

3. Hitching Post Studios Inn

Hotel, Apartment

A simple hotel room with bed and armchair with painted brick walls at Hitching Post Studios Inn
Courtesy of Hitching Post Studios Inn / Expedia

You’re in a tranquil spot a little away from the beach here, and the closest beach is a good one, Seabright, overlooked by the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. You should try walking to the beach through mellow Arana Gulch Open Space Park, past Woods Lagoon and Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor. Some of the rooms at this cheerful motel feature a kitchenette, and all have complimentary coffee. If you’ve a hankering for Mexican food, family-owned Taqueria Agave is just across the street, serving Jalisco-inspired fare such as enchiladas with a choice of meat, rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes.

4. Edgewater Beach Inn and Suites

Hotel, Apartment

A private deck on te lawn outside the Edgewater Beach Inn and Suites.
Courtesy of Edgewater Beach Inn and Suites / Expedia

Edgewater Beach Inn and Suites is set back a little from Main Beach, with great access to and overlooking Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. All suites have kitchens and wood-beamed high ceilings; some boast jacuzzis and shared patios. There’s a swimming pool and an outdoor seating area where guests can barbecue. Lighthouse Field State Beach is a 20-minute walk along the coast and is fun to explore, along with Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, housed in the preserved lighthouse.

5. Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz

Hotel, Apartment

Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz: Beach Boardwalk East_6be1e629
Courtesy of Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz, Beach Boardwalk East / Expedia

This fun motel is just yards from the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, and a mellow stroll will take you down the San Lorenzo River to Main Beach and the boardwalk. If you don’t fancy the beach, there’s a pool, and the jacuzzi suite has a jetted tub. Cross the river and you’ll find scenic Riverside Gardens Park and Mike Fox Skate Park, with full bowls, pipe and rails. Jump on Ocean Street and you can be at the Mystery Spot in less than 15 minutes by car, a popular visual illusion tourist spot.

6. Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottages

Bed and Breakfast, Inn, Hotel

A rooftop dining deck with ocean views at Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottages
Courtesy of Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottages / Expedia

Sunny Cove Beach is mere steps from Ocean Echo Inn and Beach Cottages – and a beautiful patch of sand it is too, with a more intimate and relaxed vibe than the busier beaches to the west, closer to the centre of Santa Cruz. This boutique inn’s range of cottages sleep between two and six guests and all have kitchens, plus there are propane grills for your barbecuing pleasure and an ocean-view terrace to enjoy views across Monterey Bay. A complimentary light continental breakfast will set you up for the day.

7. Fern River Resort

Hotel, Apartment

Fern River Resort
Courtesy of Fern River Resort / Expedia

Follow the San Lorenzo River a few miles upstream from Santa Cruz and you’ll come to Fern River Resort, with its array of wood-panelled cabins amid the redwood trees. The majority have kitchens, so you can be self-sufficient, and all have a campground-style pedestal barbecue. There’s a private sandbank on the San Lorenzo River called River Beach for use by guests, with a mix of rocky and sandy areas. Swimming holes further down the river can be hiked to via Henry Cowell State Park. Other amenities include a campfire ring, badminton court, tetherball, ping-pong table, basketball hoop and horseshoe pit. There’s also an outdoor kitchen which can be booked for events.

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