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The New York Times Names Santa Cruz County a Top Global Destination

'New York Times' Names Santa Cruz County a Top Global Destination

Discover why this sustainability-forward coastal locale made the high-profile list

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Posted 4 months agoby Jessica Sebor

Every January, The New York Times releases its much-anticipated "52 Places" list of where to travel that year. While the list historically highlights up-and-coming or trendy locations, in 2022, editors took a different approach. With a global pandemic, climate change, and over-tourism top of mind, the focus of this year’s list shifted to “places where grassroots efforts are pushing transformation, making their patch of the world better.” One of only a handful of U.S. destinations, Santa Cruz County earned a coveted spot thanks to green initiatives, natural restoration, and protection of Indigenous ancestral sites.



Located 70 miles south of San Francisco—another destination that made the list thanks to its pedestrian-friendly Great Highway—Santa Cruz County has long delighted travelers with a naturally beautiful mix of mountains, forest, and expansive shoreline. The 2020 wildfires damaged areas of Big Basin Redwoods, but the park has now partially reopened and there are plans to create new hiking trails and access points. The Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument marks an important cultural site for the Cotoni Indigenous Peoples—and visitors will have the opportunity to visit this stunning expanse of redwoods, woodlands, and coastal terraces when the park opens in 2022.


Santa Cruz County offers nature-focused accommodations that range from rustic to high-end. Pitch a tent at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to sleep among the sequoias and splash in the natural Garden of Eden swimming hole, or let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep at an oceanside spot at Manresa State Beach, overlooking Monterey Bay. Book a stay at the beachfront Dream Inn, located in Santa Cruz proper, for expansive views of Cowell Beach, or head to Chaminade Resort in the Santa Cruz Mountains for well-appointed rooms with forest views and a full-service spa.

Get a taste of the regional bounty at one of the farm-to-fork restaurants in the area. Bad Animal Books in Santa Cruz is both a used bookstore and a cafe, serving wine alongside French-inspired specials like local porcini and pork. At Davenport’s American Abalone Farms, purchase sea urchin and abalone to slurp up raw, straight from the shell. You can also sip locally sourced libations at Venus Spirits (specializing in gin and bourbon), or wine from Lester Estates in Aptos, Soquel Vineyards in Soquel, or Storrs Winery in Santa Cruz.

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