Getting Around Santa Cruz
The best way to get around Santa Cruz is by a combination of driving and walking. Santa Cruz is far too large to get around on foot alone, but a mix of walking and driving gives you the flexibility to see the county on your own terms. The county's public bus system is an option too, especially if you don't want to deal with highway traffic or parking fees.
The closest airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), is located 30 miles northeast of Santa Cruz. If you're not planning to rent a car from the airport, you can get to Santa Cruz via a variety of public and private transportation options. The Santa Cruz Airport Flyer offers service between the San Jose airport, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Aptos, as well as the San Francisco International Airport. Rates range from $40 to $55 per person, depending on your final destination. You can also take a taxi to Santa Cruz, but it'll cost you twice as much: a flat rate from the San Jose airport to Santa Cruz costs $110. If you'd rather rely on public transportation, the Santa Cruz METRO offers a rider's guide with tips on getting to and from the airport via a combination of buses and light rail.
Having your own four wheels will enable you to see everything from the redwoods to the beaches, all on your own time. For a scenic drive, head to Highway 1 and drive north to San Francisco or south to Monterey. You can rent cars from the airport, as well as different locations throughout the county. Keep in mind that although Santa Cruz has plenty of parking, the city charges for much of it too.
Santa Cruz offers plenty of great places to walk, including Pacific Avenue (stop at Bookshop Santa Cruz, a traveler favorite), West Cliff Drive and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. But you'll need to rely on another mode of transportation to travel between these various pedestrian-friendly areas.
The public bus system runs eight routes throughout the county, as well as a ninth route that makes the trip from Santa Cruz to San Jose. Single bus rides cost $2, or you can buy a day pass, a three-day pass or a seven-day pass, among other options, online. Keep in mind: If you're paying cash, you'll need the exact amount since the bus drivers can't make change.
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