United States

Santa Cruz, CA

The Best Places to Run in Santa Cruz

Often overshadowed by larger coastal cities, Santa Cruz is one of the don’t miss running destinations in California. It’s 30 miles southwest of San Jose and 40 miles north of the Monterey/Carmel area. While the downtown boardwalk area is remarkably festive (think ferris wheels and funnel cakes), local runners agree the best places to run in Santa Cruz are the bike path along West Cliff Drive and the seaside trails of the Wilder Ranch State Park. We also love the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, the fantastic and varied paths on the campus of UC Santa Cruz, great beach running on Seacliff State Beach, and the fire road and trails through a redwood forest in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

Editor's Picks

Some of our favorite runs in Santa Cruz, CA

West Cliff Drive

Wonderful coastal running along a multi-use path that runs from Municipal Wharf to Natural Bridges State Park.... more...

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  • Weather & Climate
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Santa Cruz has that lovely coastal California climate of year-round mild temperatures. Average highs range from the mid-60s (16-18C) in winter to the mid-70s (23-26C) in summer. Nights are cool all year, from the low-40s (5C) in winter to the mid-50s (14C) in summer. Most of Santa Cruz’s 31 inches of annual precipitation falls from November-April. Summers are dry. Note: there can be coastal gog at any time of year, and it can creep in at any time. Often, just a few miles inland, it’s sunny. Always good to bring an extra layer.

Santa Cruz is a fairly popular visitor destination and there’s a good selection of hotels. There’s a good cluster of hotels west of Rt. 1 toward the coast. Try to stay near the river (Riverwalk run) or close to the pier/coast for easy access to great running.

Running Stores

Fleet Feet Santa Cruz. Located in Aptos, is a great indy running store. Group Runs Saturdays 8am.

Santa Cruz Running Company. Another great indy local running store.

Santa Cruz has an active running community and there are great running events throughout the year. See the Fleet Feet site for some upcoming events.